The security guard at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern was an affable, short and stocky oldish white guy who was trying to use a conciliatory tone with Shae, “oh come on now love, using language like that just aint ladylike…”
“Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck”
Five more fucks. That’ll show him, she felt in her chest. Five more staccato fucks jumped like fight-ready frogs out of Shae’s mouth.
There was a little smile playing on the lips of the guard; a smile that he might give his daughter. He rolled his eyes. Shae was not his daughter. She thought about walking away from this conversation, but as she tried to, she felt the centre of her chest propelled back towards the guard, as if the world had insisted she take this further. It was a familiar sensation to her. Shae described it to her friends as a ‘sense of injustice,’ but more simply, she felt what could be described as ‘necessary argumentativeness.’
What had happened was that Shae and a friend (who she had happened to have kissed that evening while dancing to Erasure’s ‘A Little Respect’) were sitting outside in the dark on the benches smoking. It just so happened that they had their drinks with them, which was in contravention of the premises’ licensing laws. Drinks had to be inside.
In this case, the drinks in question were pints of lager; ice cold in condensation-coated glasses. They were the kind of drinks that ought to be paired with cigarettes and a crowd of laughing friends who are family. The kind of crowd of bodies and objects that must inside by 10pm, apart from the cigarettes of course.
Shae has a law degree, so she knows that might well be true, but she also knows, that this is not the end of the story: the law’s authority is not, and should not be considered, absolute. The guard had a differing view and told the two women to take their drinks inside, before resuming their cigarettes. Shae and her friend said they would gladly do so, just as soon as they were finished. The guard preferred that they did not wait, which heralded a conversation between Shae and the guard as to the veracity to the statement: “it doesn’t fucking matter if we do it now or in five minutes.”
Shae loved saying fuck. She liked saying it when she was a child, since it annoyed her mother. She said it at school because it annoyed her teachers. She said it to her boyfriends, to fight back when they said she wasn’t good enough.
It also felt good to say fuck. It means sex, anger, and a rebuke to power, all at the same time. Fuck you, let’s fuck with this! It’s also a bit illegal sometimes, especially if you published it or said it in the wrong circumstances. It was naughty, shocking, not allowed. She loved to say it, precisely because it was not ladylike.
Victoria Brooks is a writer and researcher on sexual ethics. She can be found writing her second non-fiction book about Mistresses, and writing queer fiction. You can find her on Twitter @V_Eleuteria.