Picture the scene, I walk out of a gig at Edinburgh fringe, it’s raining and am laughing and saying goodbye to some folks and I get straight into a cab as someone shouts “Loved the show Janey” and the taxi driver asks “Are you a comedian?” I reply quite proudly “Yes I am” and I forgot in my elation that I usually don’t speak about comedy in taxi’s as I know what he is going to say next…I forgot and before I could think another thing I heard him say the inevitable “Do you swear?”.
I have my stock answer “I don’t swear anymore than the male comics or less than the local priest”.
That usually makes them look into their mirror and then I hear him say “Ah…your one of those feminist women” as if the only way I could possibly answer them back is because I have a political agenda and some buckwheat sandals that I wear as I breastfeed foundlings on my lactating pendulous braless titties.
“No more a feminist than most of the male comics but usually more than the local priest, have you ever asked a male comic if he swears?” I add and hopefully this will end this painfully awkward corner we have talked our way into.
I just pull on my headphones (always great to get out of these situations) and nod to music as he mouths some shit I cannot hear but his eyebrows look knotted and angry.
I don’t know why ‘swearing’ is something that female’s have to be told not to do. Is it really that bad? Has anyone ever really hated Kevin Bridges, Frankie Boyle and Billy Connolly’s language onstage to the point where they discuss with a pursed mouth?
Dara O’Briain says the word ‘Feck’ live on television, we all know it means ‘fuck’ does Dara get belittled for being an uneducated ill-informed swearer? No, he doesn’t he is one of Ireland’s most intelligent funny men.
So it is a class issue? I have seen very well spoken middle class English women swear in comedy and somehow it is more acceptable, especially if said by ‘apparent slip of the tongue’ or by the medium of a ‘puppet’ (see Nina Conti’s filthy mouthed Monkey).
Does my swearing sound worse because I am a working class Scottish woman?
If I was a Oxbridge graduate swearing onstage would it be seen as ‘urban and gritty’ like a hipster getting angry at a flat tyre but in my accent does it sound really harsh and filthy and all you hear is a slovenly washer woman taking us back years with her filthy language?
Recently I attended a “Vote Yes” event for Scottish creative’s.
All lovely people, authors, musicians in a Glasgow basement.
The male author swore, the musician had some choice language in his songs and not a word was spoken, but the female (who spouts the values a gender equality independence group) got up to introduce me she told the audience…
“Next up is comedian Janey Godley, she might use offensive language so if you are easily offended, please bear this in mind”.
I walked to the stage so angry. I know she didn’t do it to hurt me but despite being part of a gender equality group she was hardwired to apologise for a woman before that woman spoke. She never apologised after the men onstage swore. I never got that chance. The audience were told I was probably going to be offensive.
One day this will end.
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11 September 2014