I want to talk about the “C” word today. No, I don’t mean cancer. I mean cunt.
Did that get your attention?
What is it about the word cunt that inspires such a strong reaction?
I’m rehearsing “The Vagina Monologues” this month for a charity production on March 28th. One of the monologues specifically deals with the word “cunt”. It reclaims it, if you will. The woman in the monologue attempts to show us what makes the word cunt so wonderful, so luxurious, and so energizing.
But not everyone feels the same way. In fact, many in the cast don’t like the word. And we’re a pretty open-minded bunch of vagina warriors.
Although its first use is under debate, scholars generally seem to agree that it is derived from a Germanic word “kunto”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it’s first known use was as the name of a London street – “Gropecunt Lane”. How’s that for descriptive? It wasn’t until the 18th century that it became a taboo word, and didn’t generally appear in print until the 20th century. Wikipedia gives a pretty thorough explanation of its history, if you’re interested.
What is clear is that it is one of the only words in the English language that still has the power to shock and provoke.
I daresay the only time I ever hear the word used is in the pejorative. Look it up on Dictionary.com and you’ll find this:
All senses of this word are vulgar slang and are very strongly tabooed and censored. The meanings that refer to a woman and a contemptible person are used with disparaging intent and are perceived as highly insulting and demeaning. There are many words used to refer to people in sexual terms. However, to call a person a cunt, especially a woman, is one of the most hateful and powerful examples of verbal abuse in the English language. See also gash1.noun, Slang: Vulgar.
1. the vulva or vagina.
2. (a) a contemptuous term used to refer to a woman. (b) a term used to refer to a contemptible person.
3. sexual intercourse with a woman.”
I have friends who are careful never to use this word to describe anyone in a negative light. I myself am guilty of doing this, and going forward will try to eradicate from my vocabulary – especially as an insult to another woman.
What does the word cunt inspire in you? Do you see it as bad word? Or do you want to reclaim it, like Eve Ensler?