Friday, July 07, 2006

The Worst Word

'Cunt' has allegedly been the nadir of the English language since, god, when did the Victorians decide everything that looked like a leg should be discreetly covered with a valance and gilded ruffles?

I love this word, but I can't deny it has power. Negative as well as positive. How did it accumulate such a mixed bag of karmic resonance? Has it always been both the weakest and the strongest point of a woman?

Zoe Williams in the Guardian has issued a challenge. 'Bring on the cunt warriors'.

I might take her up on it. But should the goal be to render the word cunt anodyne and inoffensive? Strong words are rare currency these days. Or does it hold that power exactly because it's describing something so powerful? The word isn't sexy, it isn't coy, it's direct and assertive. Maybe we should play with it rather than disarm it.

A close male friend recently muttered how all the suppression of women was a reaction to their ultimate power - the power to hold life within themselves, males being a necessary but disposable part of the fertilisation process. I'm not sure this is true, in fact. We could reduce men to sperm-donor status, but then women could logically become egg receptacles and baby-incubators.

The point is, brothers and sisters, there's nothin going on without both sides getting on.

The cock or the cunt are not the important bits, it's the trembling in between that matters...

2 comments:

Saskia Walker said...

I didn't see the Zoe Williams article but -- good stuff!! I would say show it in positive contexts to break the pattern. I think the American erotica writers and sex educators have done a lot more to reclaim the 'cunt' word than we have in the UK. Reading the Herotica books back in the early 90's I was impressed with it's positive usage, and yet here in the UK it's predominant use is still as the ultimate insult. Hate that.

Anonymous said...

Then again, it's not what you say but HOW you say it. I can distinctly recall cringing under the verbal assault, "cunt" thrown like a hand granade and with terrible accuracy. I may have even retaliated in kind. But when used as a directive, or worn as a badge, hmmm... you may be on to something!