Now for as long as I can remember sticking your middle finger up to anyone was a straight up insult and went hand in hand with strong verbal abuse.
This gesture got shortened to just the hand action without the need for words, nowadays however the middle finger often comes with a smile! Or a sticking out of the tongue, or a wink! And moreover it's coming from a lot more females than it ever has before!
Like a lot of new trends or behaviour I've witnessed over the last couple of years, social networking sites have had a big part to play behind it (sorry social networking sites, I know everyone seems to be blaming you for everything but...) Facebook was where I first saw those familiar 'GIRLS NIGHT OUT' albums with females enjoying themselves, getting lashed, and taking pics with their middle finger up uploading the day after for all friends/family to see.
This behaviour wasn't coming from loud rugby-playing, lager ladettes, no! These were hot-looking chicks that could pass as extras in Hollyoaks or Made In Chelsea! Pretty girls! They weren't pulling ugly faces, (or trying to pull ugly faces) or even drunk, they did it with winks, pouts and big sober-looking smiles!
Back in the day, (before the internet was big) If your mum saw a picture like the one above, put up somewhere your friends and family could easily see, you'd have a bit of explaining to do, but since seeing more of the same middle finger poses in Facebook albums such as 'GIRLS NIGHT OUT 2' and 'SHANNIES BDAY' I started to sense that the meaning behind the 'middle finger up' seems to have been super watered down.
Tumblr, the blogging social networking tool (in my opinion a Wordpress for kids, less text more pictures) was not the first, but definitely one of the most influential online hubs that took the female 'middle finger up' to commercial, acceptable heights. This is where girls swearing with their hands became cool. Some would say it was now fashionable and art, take a hottie looking like she just got out of bed, take a black and white grainy pic with her sticking up her middle finger, cap it off (no pun intended) with a Bulls or Raiders snapback hat and voila! You've successfully made swearing sexy.
Fashion without a doubt comes first from the streets, then it gets elevated to the stars. This hand swearing trend I would say is one of the only times a trend has come from celebrities first and then filtered to the general public.
Rock stars, rappers and celebrities coming out of courthouses were who we were used to seeing throwing up the finger, then middle-of-the-road, less dynamic stars started chucking up their 'onces' at the papz while walking the dog, at a restaurant and driving off from night clubs.
Slowly but surely a lot of these pictures of hand swearing celebs in tabloid papers and trashy magazines stopped being blacked out or blurred, and thats when it dawned on me, someone, somewhere, suddenly decided since it was a popular personality that gave the bird, it was now somehow seen as cool to cuss!
The likes of huge celebrities like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, who both have over 20 million followers on Twitter, and constantly trend on the number one social networking medium, show that a lot of what they say or do can influence their army of fans whether it be their call to stop bullying or cry to support a particular charity organisation.
Whatever Gaga's legion of 'monsters' (her nickname for her fans) see her wear it'll be known as fashionable, and if, like the above picture, she throws up her middle finger at a photographer
(who in most cases they may claim to be violating their privacy), her fans will probably dilute her gesture down and Tweet ''she rocks".
Justin Bieber has the same influential power, but his is more dangerous in the sense he can tap into a younger, easily manipulated public. Not suggesting kids will go to the extreme claiming ''Well I saw Justin Bieber put his middle finger up at a photographer so I thought it was cool to do it to my maths teacher" but they will be a constant battle between what their parents or guardians teach them about decorum/manners and what their favourite singer has been seen doing so casually and whether or not its as bad as the oldies are making it out to be.
I'm now waiting for the next watered down gesture or word to infiltrate pop culture and see if the media and internet is again, the catalyst.
*Chucks up deuces*