Freedom To Talk Dirty (Deborah Tannen Summary)

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate August 2001

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Freedom to Talk Dirty- Summary The entertainment industry and politics have had a combined effect on our common, everyday conversation. In this essay, Deborah Tannen examines this big media effect, and how big media events affect our language and discourse.

Sex is a big issue that has become more common and accepted in our everyday conversation. In Tannen's introduction, she explains how she realized while driving in a cab, that sex has come to be so common in everyday conversation that it is not even offensive anymore. She explains how different matters such as the Lewinsky matter, AIDS epidemic, rape trials and even commercials about Viagra have opened us up to talk dirty.

Another contributing factor that seems to pollute our language is the use of bulky dialect of law and the involvement of people in political conversation. People demote themselves by not knowing the precise meaning of common phrases: this leads to ignorant responses.

As far as politics are concerned, "talking about current events creates the sense of involvement required to make individuals into citizens." This directly refers to the Lewinsky matter. When individuals start getting involved in political conversation, they tend to take sides. Nevertheless, both sides do agree that sex in conversation is evil.

Issues of sex in conversation have also led to other effects such as teen pregnancy. It is unique how America is so prude about sex to children, yet the United States has a higher teen pregnancy rate than Europe. If children were exposed and taught about sex at an earlier age instead of it being such of a secret, they wouldn't be as tempted to explore sex at earlier ages.

What is most disastrous in this whole ordeal is that people start to let the remarks of the press and politics enter into their personal lives. The press starts to add to the problem even more by trying to use the legal system to destroy the political enemy. As a result, people tend to blame both parties for convincing voters that the fight about the sex scandal was what should be done.

The media and the politicians have blown up the sex scandal, and sex in general, to the point of disgustion. The media has disgusted so many people that it has actually turned people away from voting. Sex has just become such a natural dirty way of talking in everyday conversation. Tannen says, "this is the legacy we have to find ways to repair."