I pray they are not known as badass

I am the father of two daughters, one a junior in high school, the other a 7th grader in middle school. I long ago realized they are raising me as much as I am raising them. But of all the things my daughters are one day known for, I pray they are not known as badass.

There is a strange blending of language going on in the current cultural conversation, and the word badass has come to be equated with brave. I can begin to understand where some of that comes from, I really can, but I’m sorry, those two words are not synonymous with me. Badass is the ballsy boast and swagger mask of insecurity I’ve never been able to stomach from men, so why in the name of all that is beautiful would I desire that in the women my daughters are quickly becoming?

Brave, fierce, indomitable, brilliantly wild – these are all words and phrases I would hope readily come to mind when people think of Sarah and Abbey Blase in the near future. But badass? That’d break my heart because I tried to raise them better than that. I also hope my daughters are known as kind, tender, forgiving, and magnanimous – all words I find in no way opposed to those that began this paragraph, in fact I believe they feed off each other in that wonderful tango dance of language that takes your literal breath away. And should you wonder, I wish all of those same words to be said of my son as well.

Am I old-fashioned? I won’t argue that, and I’m probably leaning further in that direction with each passing day. Next question. Is this just semantics? That I’ll argue. Words are symbols for meaning. I do not wish for our planet to be populated by badasses. This precious place deserves better than that. We deserve better than that.


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  1. Sue on September 26, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Yes, John, yes ….. and would that people would look to blase and to buechner and to dillard and to collier, and all others who love the language – for words that express and form the human spirit. Thank you –

  2. Susie Finkbeiner on September 26, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    I don’t use the word ‘badass’ all that often. However, while watching Ken Burns’s documentary on the Roosevelts I found myself remarking to my husband, “The Roosevelts were badasses”. They got things done and didn’t give a hoot what anybody thought. And I don’t know that they were entirely good at personal relationships, really.

    You’re right. I don’t want my kids to grow up to be like that. I like this post. Thanks, John.

  3. Lorretta @Dancing On The Dash on September 26, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Ah yes. As a former “Badass” I can tell you true that it was an outward bravado masking an inward fear all the while. Now I am brave instead.There is a difference– location, location, location. It comes from within and thus continues to make war against my former badass tendencies (including the messes they made) as a daily part of my battle. Good points. Thanks John.

  4. Lindsay Terry on September 26, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Proverbs 22:6New King James Version (NKJV)

    6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
    And when he is old he will not depart from it.

    John, cling to that promise, with all of your being. Believe God who promised you that. He (the child) will NOT, NOT, NOT depart from it.

  5. Sharon Hersh on September 27, 2014 at 2:31 am

    I’m not a fan of the normalization of profanity until nothing means anything, and maybe that is why young women have grabbed on to descriptors like “badass,” because it gives some hint to the profane world girls (and boys) grow up in – where it takes supernatural courage to be fierce, outspoken, bravehearts. My heart aches for young people who cannot even find the right words to describe who they have to be to live outside the dark and destructive forces of “Gotham.” (Most high schools should have a banner in their hallways announcing, “Welcome to Gotham.”)

  6. pastordt on September 27, 2014 at 3:47 am

    Amen, John. And thank you for saying out loud.

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