Tuesday 21 August 2007

Social Convention- What You Make it, Nothing More

The Laws of Chivalry still resonate today, as the idyllic code of perfect bahaviour, a true code that all codes since are a mere dilution of.

We believe that don't we?

Sir Galahad and the Quest for The Grail.
The ideal of ideals.

Medieval knight would meet for a battle, not play dirty, and not charge before the signal from the other side. Just like sport today.

No dirty tricks, you had to show the enemy what you were doing.
No camouflage, make sure you are brightly coloured.
And never strike from behind.

Peasants do not fire their bows at knights, only peasants.
Knights do not mow down peasants, they only fight knights.

When Henry V broke these rules at Agincourt, it was the medieval equivalent, morally, of the Behaviour of the Nazis in the Second World War. Every Warcrime, rolled into one.

But the other side of the coin.
If you offered a city the chance to surrender, and it refused, should you take it, you put all the males to death, and rape all the women.

If you defeat a knight in combat, who has a lady with him, the lady is yours.

Trial by combat, is a a legitimate mode of trial, much preferred by the nobility to trial by jury.

So it wasn't all that great.

Our modern system of manners are likewise a social convention.
It's interesting to see how some of our odd customs evolved.
Table manners, for example.

Cardinal Richelieau introduced the table knife, because his high sensibilities were offended by people picking their teeth with sharp blades.

But more was to come. Ever wondered the point of a fish fork?
The answer is, not much. Most of this cutlery is nineteenth century invention. These complicated codes came in, due to the pressure of the times.
The industrual revolution meant that people born in the gutter ended up richer than descendants of the Conquerer's knights.
How to tell the sacred blood of the Norman, from the peasant blood of the Saxon?

By whether or not you knew which silly knife to use.
By whether you were born in a household to learn the difference.

Conventions serve the need of the society they exist in.
We follow them, because we want to get along with others.

That also affects our word usage.

At one time, only religous oaths offended people. There weren't any taboo words which weren't an oath of some kind.
Sex, the toilet and other 'vulgarities', weren't talked about if you didn't need to, but the ordinary words for these things, were not in themselves considered offensive.

This again, is a late eighteenth- early nineteenth development.
It served a function, to sort out the decorous, from the vulgar.
Let the common people, use common words.
We'll talk about powdering our noses.

Now I'm not stupid enough to think that I don't need to follow these conventions.
I have to make a living.
I don't speak offensively at work, I don't here either.
But at home with my mates, or down the pub, I actually speak quite coarsely and quite vulgarly.
I can affect class, it doesn't come naturally to me.

Words are just words. The power to offend is all in the perception of the hearer. When talking to anyone in everyday life about f**king, I use the word, as it stands. If I'm proposing it to a woman, I use the word. I've not known one take offence at it's use either.
That's the word for that activity. Perfectly good verb. What's the problem with it?
Don't you think now, even five years olds know what the word means?

Who really is offended by it?

These social conventions were in place to maintain a class system.
In an era of mass communication, not only is their maintenance impossible, it is completely pointless.

But hey, as long as you want to maintain them, I'll follow them when I need to, as I do here.
But I certainly don't take any offence at people using the f**k word.
I think there's something very endearing about a woman who doesn't feel men need to stand on ceremony around them.
These conventions get in the way of genuine human interaction, because they stifle us.
We use them in life when we HAVE to, but there's no need to give them support.

People express themselves as they see fit.

But then again, I'm pretty common.


Anonymous said...

There are so many formal and informal social rules that we live by. Home, work, sporting events, shopping and leisure activities. We are defined by how we present in different situations. We are all chameleons, waiting to change colour depending on our comfort level and our location.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Crushed - well, all your posts I've read tonight are. I'm with you on this one. It's just a word and taking offence is in the ear of the listener. It's an invented taboo.

Anonymous said...

I'm not offended by the word fucking.

Fucking. Fucking. Fucking.

See, I'm rather fond of it actually. What everyone else is left to decipher is whether I just like to say the word a lot or if I simply just like to fuck.

Either way, fuck what people think. So much for societies rules, eh?

Anonymous said...

"Words are just words. The power to offend is all in the perception of the hearer."

Abso-fucking-lutely! It's not my fault that YOU are offended by what comes out of MY mouth!

I am the least offendable person on earth...you can say whatever the fuck you like, I don't really care, thats what you think...not me! Call me what you like...that's what you believe. Saying something does not make it truth!

The only time and place that I do censor myself is around children (I try to at least) and at work (I also try)! But I talk like a sailor and would rather cut out the small talk bull shit and get right down to it! I would rather be asked directly, "DO you want to fuck!" rather than some small chitchat crap and sweet talking!

Lay your cards on the table and be honest and open no matter what words come out!

As for being polite and things like that, I am not white trash, you can dress me up and take me out...and I can behave! Playing a lady is all part of my charm! Ha!

Sorry, to ramble...about what I am not sure!

Great post!

Anonymous said...

I am with you on this one and as an outsider I am making a survey of human social conventions... its hard to know which ones are important for example should one always wear pants?

Anonymous said...



Doyou wanna fuck?.....




didn'twork for me...

Anonymous said...

Colin- This is true. I have to change regularly, it's the tools of my trade.
But i don't think a blogger who decides to use language they feel confortable with, has done anything wrong.

Welshcakes- I think we have to be sensitive to the ear concerned.
If none of us choose to be offended, it reverts to being just a word.

Shelly- Actually, I agree with you.
Nothing like a good fuck, is there?
Fucking is definitely one of the better things in life.

Who decided fucking was a bad word?
Next they'll tell us Sleeping isw...

Jenny- Social niceties are one thing, manners are just a game. It is socially nice to hold a door open for a lady, it is archaic etiquette to curtsey.

You are an honest person, I like that about you.
I'll dress you up and take you out any time.

Mutley- I didn't mean as a chat up line.
I meant with your girlfriend, saturday afternoon, after the football scores have come in.

Anonymous said...

What? men are supposed to hold open doors for you??? Kidding...it's actually very polite at work, all the men wait and let ladies get in and out of the elevators first. I don't think manners are JUST a game, they come attached with your upbringing and childhood. Adults with no manners were probably kids that werent taught manners!

Anonymous said...

Mutley...well, why not...you did ask!

Anonymous said...

Words are just words. The power to offend is all in the perception of the hearer.

I don't think you believe this for a second. I don't think anyone believes that.

If words are just words we wouldn't have:

a) slang
b) offensive slang
c) laws and lawsuits built on the use of offensive words (i.e. slander, libel)
d) an entire dictionary built upon the preservation of words (i.e. Oxford English Dictionary)

Comedy, obviously, is built upon treading the sanctity of words. I have first hand experience with ruffling people's feathers. People may choose to be offended, but it's all from upbringing.

I don't care how crass, brazen, offensive a cut-up you are, you are offended by some word. A word with the right use of intonation, can set you off. And that is what we have to worry about, despite trying to feign inoffense.

Anonymous said...

Jenny! said...

Mutley...well, why not...you did ask

Good lord!! It does work .... I shall have to try this in real life! Wish me luck!

Anonymous said...

Mutley - yes fuckin please!

Anonymous said...

Isn't life more fun with rules and conventions ? Isn't breaking rules what makes things funny or sexy ?

And as the rules recede and taboos are illiminated don't people go seeking ever coarser and more dangerous thrills which are harmful to others and, let's admit, less pleasant ?

Anonymous said...

Ah ha! I was thinking exactly what Lucy made her comments on. Of course there are words that offend and it is not just social niceties that keep these words suppressed in social environs.

It is too easy to slip into further degrees of vulgarity once one has begun, which is why, I suppose we try to protect our children's innocence as long as we can.

Anonymous said...

If I'm proposing it to a woman, I use the word. I've not known one take offence at it's use either.

Depends on the class of woman, of course. Certain types wouldn't mind, no.

Anonymous said...

I would be offended by a man saying that to me but not have a problem saying it myself, if I knew him really well.I think though, unless extremely angry or sexy , I do not like foul talk.There is a time and a place for everything.

Anonymous said...

Screw chivalry.
Many men and women find themselves in a justified state of confusion about what is polite behavior and what is a loaded insult. Perhaps the fact that young men fail to offer their seats to "ladies" is not a particularly scary aspect of our times.

Anonymous said...

Stan is yours!
Mutley is mine!
Do we need to mud wrestle over them?

I would imagine that if someone who doesnt use foul language in her own life was approached by someone using foul language it wouldn't be good, but its more direct that way at least...you can then know what their intentions are and not have to beat around the bush with niceties!

Anonymous said...

I thought you were still fixated on Dyck!
Mr Crushed, apologies for grievous digression...

Anonymous said...

Jenny- I usually hold doors open. Then again, i never let a woman buy the drinks.
In some ways, I'm quite old fashioned.

Lucy- My point, everyone is offended by words which offend THEM.
Some words are offensive because of the connotations, such as paki.
It's a nasty word because it it meant in a dereogatory way.
What is the negative connotation of the 'f' word?

Mutley- I didn't mean as a chat up line.
Of course it won't work in that many cases there.
But sitting on the sofa with your partner of two months?
Perfectly appropriate then.

Kitty- Mutley has enough women! He's a very NAUGHTY dog.
Anyway, the best chat up line on EARTH remains 'Fancy coming to a party later?'
Of course, it only works if you actually ARE going to a party later.
Works for me, anyway.

E-K- You kind of summed up my life history. Sad as it is to say, things get dull for me quickly, and I find myself experimenting further.
I'm trying to rein it in now, simply because it makes it very hard to derive satisfaction from the norm, which is ultimately self-defeating.

Helen- In a sense, I agree. I don't want my five year old watching The Omen.
But I would be less concerned by him using the 'f'word.
I can't see that traumatising him.

Sir James- I meant within context, see my comment to Mutley.
I wouldn't propse it that way first time, but if it's the fiftieth occasion?
Most of the girl's I meet are late twenties, professional women with a comprehensive school education, and probably a degree.
Not ladies in the old fashioned since, possibly.

Uber- Exactly, time and place. Down my local, NOT cussing would make you stand out. It's that sort of pub.
If you aren't a working man, you have to at least show that's were your roots were, and where your heart is.

'I think though, unless extremely angry or sexy , I do not like foul talk.There is a time and a place for everything.'
Do you swear a lot, then?

Stan- I'd never offer my seat to a woman, but depending on who she was, sitting on my lap could be an option.

Jenny- That's how I see it. I don't cuss overly, but certain words are reserved for my wrath. I have a whole range of Beavis and butthead style insults which I use as terms of endearment for my mates, but if I actually call someone a 'prick', it's a good sign, I'm close to smacking them.

Anonymous said...

you are like an encyclopedia

Anonymous said...

convention or not... where do you learn about these subjects?

Anonymous said...

> But I certainly don't take any offence at people using the f**k word.
Neither do I.

> People express themselves as they see fit. But then again, I'm pretty common.
Oh, I like the way you ended this post! You have a flair with words; you always get your message across...

Anonymous said...

Chivarly cannot be dead - if it is, I'm joining a convent this minute. I cannot believe that what's out there is the best we can get, either sex, and heck - if somebody can upbring the extreme effort to be somewhat nice to another person... please, be!!!

Anonymous said...

You know me well enough darling to know I only swear when you make me mad.

Anonymous said...

Beavis and Butthead are the shit! Cunt is usually the word when you know I am two seconds from slitting someones' throat! All else, who could really tell!

Anonymous said...

Raffi- I tend to soak up pretty much most things I read, but I only read what interests me.
I think this is useful, because it allows you to relate facts from different disciplines together.
Social history is actually a lot more intersting than people reralise; it's how societry evolved and it puts everything we do as humans in perspective.

Eve- The mark of a good salesman, is shutting up wjen he's delivered the crunch line.
After that, first one to speak loses. That's how to close a sale.

Heart- Chivalry coincided with burnings at the stake, and hanging, drawing and quartering.
All very rosy sounding, but it was a code of etiquette designed to establish some sense of decency in an age dominated by the clash of swords.
Being nice to people IS what it should be all about.
Not whether or not you are plebiean enough to drink beer with your meal (as I do, no matter how formal the occasion. I don't like wine, simple as)

Uber- I don't dispute that at all. You are certainly not a peasant. You'd hate my local.

Jenny- Buttmunch I use a lot. I call most of my friends that.
Or Twathead.
But if I call someone Twat, I mean it.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should say that Jenny- when I am really angry I use a cold , polite formality and use words such as "darling" " sweetheart"..and the like. People who do not know me, mistake it.I also tend to smile & laugh more when I am really mad.

Anonymous said...

Uber...that's kind of frightening!

Anonymous said...

I am cornholio...I need tp for my bunghole!