Last week my mother came down to visit me. My mom is pretty cool. She’s easy to talk to, she can swear like a sailor, and to date she is the only person to beat me in a game of cards against humanity. She accepts me for the terrible person I am and has no problem sinking to my level when we hang out.
That being said, there has always been one thing I could say that was sure to have her frowning and exclaiming my name in the tone of irritation and disappointment that all moms know how to do. One word that never fails in offending her and getting me in trouble. The C-Word.
It makes no sense to go on talking about a word while completely avoiding the word itself so lets just get the shock factor out of the way and say it together on 1… 2… 3… Cunt.
There we go. Now we can move forward with our mature conversation about slanderous terms for female genitalia.
I didn’t grow up in a home free of cursing. “bad words” were pretty commonly heard around my house though not wildly used by myself until my teen years. I’d picked up many colourful terms throughout my childhood but cunt was not one of them. I don’t think I even heard the word cunt until I was maybe fifteen and it was probably a good year after that before I found out what it meant. It was just a bad word. A really bad word. I didn’t think I needed to ask what it meant, I just knew it was one of the worst words you could use based on the reaction it provoked from the adults around me.
When I did finally find out what it meant it lost a lot of stigma for me. You mean to tell me that this whole time people were so upset about being called a vagina? That’s it? Vagina. It seemed silly. Since that revelation the word cunt has had a spark of humour for me. I decided I liked it. It had the silliness of ‘vagina’ but packed the punch of ‘fuck’. It was shocking, but to me it was just another animated piece of vocabulary, even if my computer doesn’t acknowledge it as a word even now. I started using. Sporadically at first and never in front of my mother. Now I probably use it on a daily basis, though my reasons for doing so have changed.
I haven’t lived with my parents for two years now. I’m not terribly far away from them but far enough that it’s not unusual to go two or three months between visits. This has improved my relationship with my parents in a lot of ways but it has completely dulled my ability to censor myself in front of them. As my mom was visiting last weekend I couldn’t help but have the c-bomb drop in front of her. She was not impressed. I felt the need to defend myself and my use of what is arguably my favourite word.
“What’s wrong with saying cunt?”
“It’s not a nice word. When people use it it makes them sound ignorant.”
“But it’s just another word for vagina. Are you offended when someone says vagina?”
She said it wasn’t the same. The context of vagina and cunt are two different things. She’s right. They mean the same thing but the intent behind someone saying vagina and someone saying cunt are completely different. Vagina is clinical and objective. Cunt is used when you want to call someone the worst thing you can think of. Why is it that the worst thing people can think to call someone is a cunt? Why is it that the worst thing someone could be is a part of female anatomy?
On the flip side penis is a clinical term and dick is an insult but when was the last time you saw a rational person be genuinely upset at being called a dick. People brush it off. No one is offended at being referred to as a dick or a prick the same way people are offended by cunt or even pussy when there really shouldn’t be any difference. One genders private parts aren’t any worse than the others. It’s the stigma that being a woman is a bad thing that makes cunt such a bad word. In a world where we still tell people they, “throw like a girl”, or that they need to, “man up and stop acting like a chick”, it’s not surprising that cunt is still considered as derogatory as it is. It’s sexist.
For some people the word being loaded with sexist connotation is why we shouldn’t use it, but for me it’s exactly why I feel I should use it. I use cunt ironically mostly. As a term of endearment in the same way close friends call one another “bitch”, “asshole”, or my roommate’s personal favourite “dickhole”. I nearly never use it in an angry context and when I do it’s mostly reserved for inanimate objects. I used to joke I was “taking it back” but the more I made that joke the more I realized that was what I wanted to do.
Upwards of 80% of incidences where I’ve ever heard cunt used it was a man using it to berate, shame, or devalue a woman. Occasionally I’ve heard women use it to tear down other woman, and once I heard a man use it to insult another man. It’s disproportionately used as an oppressive term towards women and that shit needs to stop. The best way to do that is to repurpose the c-word in the same way rappers repurposed the n-word.
We use it on our own terms and when some jerk uses it in a derogatory manner we come down on him like a ton of politically correct bricks to let the rest of the asshats know that their cunt privileges have been revoked. Then it’s use among misogynists will be confined to comments on the morally bankrupt cesspool that is 4chan where the rest of us will never have to see it.