When and why did we decide that showing someone the middle finger was saying f*** you?

Why don't we use any of our other fingers? We use a thumbs-up when we're showing approval or satisfaction. Drinking tea with your 'pinkies up' is often associated with elites and members of high society.

We traditionally use our ring fingers for engagement rings and wedding rings because ancient Egyptians believed that a "vein called the vena amoris, which is quite literally ‘vein of love’ in Latin, ran directly from the tip of that finger to the heart," according to Lebrusan Studio.

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Did we believe that the middle finger was feeling left out and that it needed to be represented in some way? We've come so far as a society that we can even send a middle finger emoji in a text message if we'd like. How did this rude gesture start?

Unsplash - Annie Spratt, Canva
Unsplash - Annie Spratt, Canva

Middle Finger Origins

Flipping someone the bird dates 2,500 years ago in ancient Greece. According to CNN "Greeks developed a phallic gesture to offend, taunt, and literally poke each other." 

Everyone today knows what the middle finger represents but supposedly it was created as a sexual reference by some naughty Greeks. Once becoming popular in Greece, the gesture made its way to ancient Rome. Romans referred to this gesture as "digitus impudicus or "the indecent digit."

Today's Middle Finger

The rude and obscene gesture made its way to America in the 19th century from Italian immigrants, according to CNN. The middle finger became "the bird" in the 1960s because birds have been known for taunting. This became a gesture commonly associated with "anti-authority rebels" and many people today recognize the popular black and white Johnny Cash photo of him flipping the bird when asked what he thought of a San Quentin State Prison Warden.

*WARNING Obscene Gesture is Used in this Video. Please View At Your Discretion.*

Many other popular artists have famous photos of them using obscene hand gestures which vary from Joe Strummer of The Clash to Hip Hop Artists Tupac Shakur.

Today, the middle finger is considered vulgar and frequently blurred out on TV, which in my opinion...seems pretty silly. Why blur it out when everyone watching knows exactly what's happening? It almost brings more attention to the gesture when there's a giant blur on the TV screen.

Next time you want to flip someone the bird, you can thank ancient Greece for creating a unique way to express yourself!

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