Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Save Our (British) V-Sign

The good old British V-sign is under threat. Not the hippie peace one or the Churchill victory salute but the palm inwards f**k you or f**k off display of obscene anger.
I can just about stand having a Starbucks on every corner, watching English traditions like Guy Fawkes Night give ground to Halloween, and Americanisms such as meet with enter the language but the increasing popularity of flipping the bird for the V-sign is downright unpatriotic.
It’s such a feeble gesture that I missed it in M.I.A’s performance in the Super Bowl’s halftime show on Sunday in the same way Janet Jackson once flashed her nipple faster than these old eyes could see.
If the UK rapper had ended her contribution to the Madonna-led entertainment with a vigorous index and middle fingers' V-sign, she would have indicated her unmistakable intent – and avoided a lot of controversy that followed her single finger salute.
I don’t buy the V-sign dates from the Middle Ages when English longbow men taunted French adversaries that their fingers were intact; the French, so the story goes, had threatened to cut off the bow fingers of any enemy archers they captured.
I haven’t studied the subject but somewhere along the way I came to consider the V-sign represented external female genitalia.
Flipping the finger is clearly phallic in origin, with the curled fingers the testicles; there may or may not be some anal reference.
A case could be made for the emphatic bras d’honneur favoured abroad in which one arm is bent in an L-shape, the bicep grabbed by the free hand before being raised in an ‘Up yours’ movement.
But this is almost exclusively a male gesture. Too much testosterone, where the single finger lacking agression smacks of an excess of oestrogen.
So much better the unisex V-sign invariably accompanied by a scowl and snarled obscenity. As British as fish and chips, binge drinking, and Nike looting.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, British culture is disappearing fast and our V-sign is being replaced so much by the American middle finger which I think looks much more brutal and it also has more obscene origins. The one-finger sign has been in the UK since at least the 1990s as I remember someone doing it to me for the first time over 20 years ago.

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