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Calling his wife a cunt under his breath

(160 Posts)
toomanydaisies Fri 16-Nov-12 20:12:07

Please give me advice.

My friend called me in tears just now. She and her husband had had an argument - but she said it was nothing major. He went off into their bedroom and called her a cunt under his breath.

Not the first time he's done this apparently.

She told him she'd heard and he wasn't apologetic - just said he was speaking to himself.

I think this is terrible. Is it emotional abuse? I just don't know what to say to my friend...

Casmama Fri 16-Nov-12 20:17:48

I think it is extremely unpleasant and she should discuss it with him in a day or two. However, I don't think it is emotional abuse but if he continues despite knowing how she feels about it then it is a problem. It depends a little on his normal language though- if he had said FFS under his breath would you think that was abusive?

NoraGainesborough Fri 16-Nov-12 20:18:13

Name calling is out of order, but I would just be a shoulder for your friend at this point.

Give her support if she decides to leave.

MrsWolowitz Fri 16-Nov-12 20:19:53

I don't think its abusive.

It wasn't screamed in her face he muttered it under his breath.

Unpleasent yes, does it need an apology? Yes. It is abusive? Not really imo.

toomanydaisies Fri 16-Nov-12 20:25:10

Thank you all. That's helped me get some perspective.

janelikesjam Fri 16-Nov-12 20:26:58

Depends on the context too. But I think the C* word is probably as non-negotiable as you get in terms of contempt...

But don't tell me, she told her best female friend about her upset rather than tell him to F.O to the far side and then F.O. again (sorry can';t remember traditional MN quote, wine but if anyone wants to clarify I would be more than happy to see again ...)

janelikesjam Fri 16-Nov-12 20:32:53

And, I would add something else.

The C* word is quite specific and a very strong swear word. Either used in the really low-down women-are-scum domestic or outer world or possibly in more salubrious but nevertheless anti-female world. People know when they use this word because its vile intention is unmistakeable.

If someone called me a C* (which they never have by the way) I think they would have crossed some line.

AnnaFurLact1c Fri 16-Nov-12 21:03:01

Of course it's abusive!

On what planet is this acceptable? A muttered FFS is a completely different thing.

HappyGirlNow Fri 16-Nov-12 21:10:21

I really don't see what the big deal with the word cunt is. Really, it's just another word. People say 'oh, it's because it relates to female genitalia andmis said as an insult in a negative manner blah blah' - well what about 'prick', 'dick', 'knob' etc?

It's only a word at the end of the day and I can't believe people give it so much power. It's like everyone just jumps on the 'oh, that's a terrible word' bandwagon!

Having said that its not good that he's name calling and your friend does deserve an apology. But it's no worse a word than many others.

AnnaFurLact1c Fri 16-Nov-12 21:14:32

Of course it's a big deal! The word itself is not...being called it by your husband is.

Glad to be in a minority!

ImperialBlether Fri 16-Nov-12 21:17:21

There'd be no going back if someone called me that. He muttered it knowing she'd hear and didn't apologise. Bad enough if he had.

HappyGirlNow Fri 16-Nov-12 21:18:27

I agree that it's wrong he called his wife that and he should be apologising big time. I'd be furious if it was my partner. I'm just saying that I'd be saying that whatever name he called her. He was out of order, not specifically for using the word cunt though.

NorthernNobody Fri 16-Nov-12 21:23:52

I would not be married to anyone who called me that

SorryMyLollipop Fri 16-Nov-12 21:46:05

HappyGirlNow I agree. I think we should step away from the idea that the worst thing you can call anyone is a cunt. Why should that word be given that much power?
Personally, I find it insulting that the "worst" word in the whole language is a word for female genitalia. Are female genitals that horrendous? Why should the most insultingly terrible thing be female parts ffs? We should reclaim the word and refuse to be insulted by it.

OP - calling someone a name is not necessarily abusive in itself, esp if its a one off when emotions are running high. Your friend should discuss it with her DH, if it continues I would be concerned.

struwelpeter Fri 16-Nov-12 22:04:18

My abusive ex called me a c***. I tried to explain that I didn't like it and he said but you are a c* aren't you. He was physically and emotionally abusive too.
If they happily call each other all sorts of names then that's fine, but if someone says don't call me a c* or a cow or anything even more innocent than that and the other person continues then it is abusive. So support your friend, find out how she feels, listen to her and if it's a deal breaker for her help her find the strength to stand up to him over this.

HappyGirlNow Fri 16-Nov-12 22:16:31

Thanks Sorry , glad someone else feels the same. Where I come from people use it for men and women so it's not specifically an insult thrown at women. It could even be used as a term of endearment at times grin But yet you'll still find grown women talking about the 'c-word' in hushed tones - I just don't get it.

And we have reclaimed it! A highly educated (think PhD) friend of mine and her equally intelligent friends regularly send birthday cards to each other saying 'Happy Birthday Cunt!' - that does make me laugh! grin

But as I said, name calling in a negative way is wrong and if I was he wife I'd be giving the husband very short shrift!

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Fri 16-Nov-12 22:22:01

I'm with HappyGirl: I think some people give way too much power to certain words.

WRT this specific couple and their quarrel: some people are much more sweary than others, and they don't actually mean 'I am calling you The Worst Name In The World Because I Hate You', they mean 'I am currently exasperated with you and I am a sweary person so I'm using a swearword.' If you know someone well enough to have married them then you surely know whether they swear lots or hardly ever and will have some idea of the intention behind the words.

Mind you, some people are such precious little flowers that they burst into tears if a toddler calls another toddler Bumface in their hearing...

timothyclaypole Fri 16-Nov-12 22:29:09

Happygirl are you Irish by any chance? The first time I met DH's Irish family I was shocked how easily they chucked that word into conversation, it really was just another word to them.

OP I hope your friend is ok, and that her DH just had a particularly exasperated sweary moment.

HappyGirlNow Fri 16-Nov-12 22:30:56

Scottish timothyclaypole grin

Bluegrass Fri 16-Nov-12 22:31:39

Was she being a cunt at the time?

<gets coat>

It's a bit one sided though isn't it.

We don't know what she called him...she could have stood infront of him and called him something equally abusive and personal.

Did she follow him into another room - perhaps he went off to mutter to himself, or did he mean her to hear it?

toomanydaisies Sat 17-Nov-12 03:15:25

Thank you all. So helpful. I think it's blown over now but I have a better idea of how big a deal this sort of thing is to other people!

Offred Sat 17-Nov-12 10:48:03

Somewhere in the middle of all of this for me. It wouldn't matter so much for me what had been said on either side if the marriage had descended to that I'd want out.

OneMoreChap Sat 17-Nov-12 13:14:29

There'd be no going back if someone called me that. He muttered it knowing she'd hear and didn't apologise. Bad enough if he had.

What nonsense.

What "magic" word could you mutter that your DP would kick you to the curb?
More probably none.

I think he's a a bit of a dick and a bit uncontrolled and I tend not to use words like that. I'd certainly walk away if someone was shouting at me..

But note:
She and her husband had had an argument - but she said it was nothing major.

Maybe he thought it was...

BelaLugosisShed Sat 17-Nov-12 14:06:33

OneMoreChap, it would be the the end if my husband ever called a me a cunt too, and that's after 30 years together, it's a truly awful thing for a man to call a woman, any man calling a woman that has absolutely no respect for her.
My husband wouldn't stand for me saying it to him either, before you start your usual "but what about the menz" .

OneMoreChap Sat 17-Nov-12 14:27:27

^OneMoreChap, it would be the the end if my husband ever called a me a cunt too, and that's after 30 years together, it's a truly awful thing for a man to call a woman, any man calling a woman that has absolutely no respect for her.
My husband wouldn't stand for me saying it to him either^

Cool. So if you call him that word, that's finis after 30 years. He'd walk and divorce you. Vice-versa, too.

You actually mean that?

Wow, relationship sundered on a word. That's one stable relationship.

before you start your usual "but what about the menz"

Grow some new lines, and try them on someone who either cares or is interested.

HellothisisJoanie Sat 17-Nov-12 14:29:05

oh fgs people row

hurricanewyn Sat 17-Nov-12 14:36:50

I call DH names under my breath when he annoys me - gobshite, most frequently. I probably wouldn't apologise straight away either. Don't get me wrong, once I've calmed down I would - especially if I thought I'd hurt him, but mid row isn't the right time for these kind of discussions.

I have a mouth like a sewer though.

CabbageLeaves Sat 17-Nov-12 14:42:35

Maybe if you are used to using the language, used to insulting each other and it's more normal for you OneMoreChap then it's not such a big deal.

I've never used that word. I wouldn't say fuck off to DP. We don't row. We talk. If my relationship involved him calling me a cunt it would symbolise the fact that it was over.

Yes I would leave

BelaLugosisShed Sat 17-Nov-12 14:43:09

Do I really have to explain that it's not about a particular word, just that the words used signify such a massive lack of respect, that's what I would never be able to come back from - he has never , ever , sworn at me, not once since we met in 1980, because he respects me.

I dont actually think that you know much about stable relationships tbh, not going by some of the utter rubbish you post on these boards anyway.

If people didn't put up with being spoken to like crap, this board wouldn't be full of women asking if being called a fat, lazy cow is abusive, there is no place for abusive language in happy, healthy, respectful relationships.

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 14:45:25

I agree onemorechap , who would honestly end a marriage over one word..
No good will come of name calling.. but it's just a word!!
But I suppose once you're on that 'oh but that's the nastiest, meanest, most awful word in the whole wide world' bandwagon it's hard to get off! Such a cliche.

HellothisisJoanie Sat 17-Nov-12 14:46:55

oh ffs oyu sound so PRIM - get over it

HellothisisJoanie Sat 17-Nov-12 14:47:31

i dont swear and we rarely row. I wouldnt divorce anyone for thought crime either

HellothisisJoanie Sat 17-Nov-12 14:48:26

lol at me
i obv DO wear but not to h.

BelaLugosisShed Sat 17-Nov-12 14:48:34

Yes, such a cliche, wanting to be treated with respect by your partner. hmm
A man calling a woman a cunt is an act of abuse, always .

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 14:49:20

Oh goodness.. Ok, we'll clearly if there's a pattern of name calling and disrespect, of course leave.. But to say you'd leave after being called a bad word once ? hmm

BelaLugosisShed Sat 17-Nov-12 14:52:46

There are a whole lot of women on this board who wish they would have left the first time they were verbally abused, instead of putting up with it/thinking they probably deserved it, for years on end.
A man who speaks to his partner like this is not a good partner and is abusive.

CabbageLeaves Sat 17-Nov-12 14:55:00

grin at OneMoreChap suggesting a woman who's been married for 30 years to a man who doesn't call her a cunt .....hasn't got a stable relationship

I am physically chuckling at that one

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 14:55:42

It may well be a red flag, but c'mon, no one in their right mind would end a long marriage just because of that one instance.. hmm

She might have called him a mealymaggot dicked peadophile first though, mighn't she?

You don't know the context of it. She might have the mouth of a sailor. She could have done or said something to really really upset him.

He muttered it under his breath, so it could have been an exclamation about the argument, or he could have been saying "obviously I'm a complete cunt" or something similar. He didn't spit it directly into her face whilst she was backed up against the wall.

He should be entitled to have some time to cool off in private too, if he is a reasonable level tempered bloke.

But she should be talking to her husband about it surely.

CabbageLeaves Sat 17-Nov-12 14:58:16

It's choice. You get what you choose. Bela doesn't get called names and has stayed.

If you're happy with name calling then you stay and presumably you also use names - which is fine because that's your normal.

It doesn't mean one relationship is better than another.

Some partners stay with others who are lazy, repressed, extravagant, wtc. It's just what you decide is acceptable to you

BelaLugosisShed Sat 17-Nov-12 15:00:39

I would bet my house on it not being just that one instance, abusive behaviour can be very subtle in the beginning, abusive men never start by calling their partner a cunt, this is just pushing the boundaries to see if she will accept more.
I depspair for young women if they don't think that being called a cunt is much of a big deal within a relationship.

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 15:01:21

I don't believe even someone extremely averse to name calling would leave a long relationship after one instance of it

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 15:03:31

Well we can only go on what were told can't we??
And nobody is saying being called names isn't bad because it clearly is and should be strongly addressed. But cunt is no worse than many other words.

BelaLugosisShed Sat 17-Nov-12 15:03:45

OP said it wasn't the first time though. wink

JugglingWithPossibilities Sat 17-Nov-12 15:05:32

Hmm, my DH has said similar and worse quite often - sometimes in a very angry and shouty way - not good at all sad

CabbageLeaves Sat 17-Nov-12 15:05:47

Happy - no possibly I wouldn't
I was in an abusive relationship. It started like this.
You tolerate one instance
Next time... is also only one more instance

and so on

My tolerance levels are set on zero currently. I would rather be single than compromising and I know how it starts. You fail to see it until you're right in it

But that's me and I'm a fairly non confrontational, even kind of person who doesn't swear much

BelaLugosisShed Sat 17-Nov-12 15:05:50

HappyGirl - it is worse when it's man calling a woman a cunt, it's intended for one purpose only , to remind a woman of her status, just a woman, not a real person like a man .

CabbageLeaves Sat 17-Nov-12 15:08:05

What would I want for my DDs

Would I say... it's just a word. Don't make such a fuss.

Or You're worth more than that...don't accept it <---- this

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 15:08:41

Oops blush missed that bit! oh well that's different and really does need addressed.. But I still maintain its about name calling in general not because of that particular word..
I do award biscuitto myself though blush

strumpetpumpkin Sat 17-Nov-12 15:09:10

i dont see the big deal about walking away and muttering that the person you were arguing with was some sort of unpleasant swear word under your breath.
Havent we all done it??

Maybe she was being a cunt?

BelaLugosisShed Sat 17-Nov-12 15:12:06

Exactly Cabbageleaves.
HappyGirl, a man who calls a woman a cunt, even if he's nice the rest of the time ( which is highly doubtful) , is an abusive man who doesn't respect women.

BelaLugosisShed Sat 17-Nov-12 15:14:06

Everyone is fixating on the word instead of reading the intent of the man saying it , <bangs head on keyboard> there is only one reason a man says it to his partner.

AnnaFurLact1c Sat 17-Nov-12 15:14:18

At last..some sense on the thread.

I seriously wonder about some folk...

For a man to call his wife a cunt...well, it's kind of indicative that he is an abusive man. But if it makes some of you feel better to rationalise it as 'just a word' and 'maybe she was being a cunt .. ' well, go right ahead. Or maybe attempt to educate yourself a little better and raise your self esteem.

BulletProofMum Sat 17-Nov-12 15:16:19

Dh called me that recently. Now separating.

It was in front of the children too

BulletProofMum Sat 17-Nov-12 15:16:56

Dh is not abusive... Just a c@nt ;-)

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 15:23:40

grin at anna -I haven't once said name calling is ok, but it is just a word like any other . Try educating yourself and stop giving it so much power.

strumpetpumpkin Sat 17-Nov-12 15:24:16

is he being abusive if he calls her a twat, or a wally, or a meanie, or a bitch?

is it just the word cunt thats abusive?

Is a woman being abusive when she calls him a pig or a cock?

In my opinion, the word abusive can be overused to an extent it loses all meaning.
When we shout or argue with a partner we are already abusing each other. Fact. Its never ok to make someone feel bad, but we all do it to each other all the time. Its a side effect of living with other people and complex relationships. Theres always going to be a certain amount of compromise and a certain amount of conflict.
If hes calling her names and shes upset by it, then they need to sort it out. Not just assuming that shes a victim and hes an abuser. Certainly not just by what has been said here, but it sounds like hes upset with her behaviour and vice versa, but we dont know how it all started, so its really impossible to jump to conculisoions

AnnaFurLact1c Sat 17-Nov-12 15:26:35

And that's just fine Happy.... you can allow your dh to call you a cunt if you so wish and rationalise it and minimise it... after all, it's just a word. I choose to be with a man who'd never dream of saying it.

Horses for courses. And this thread has been an education for me... so many women who shrug and think it's no biggie because they've been brainwashed into thinking 'it's just another word like 'dafty' or 'silly billy ' eh....

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 15:28:25

Well said strumpet grin

drizzlecake Sat 17-Nov-12 15:30:47

It's the tone in which is was used imo which matters.

Though a bit strong.

AbigailAdams Sat 17-Nov-12 15:33:25

Really strumpet? You need someone to tell you which of those words you should accept being called by the person who is supposed to love you? Would you call your children any of those?

Abusive behaviour is not recognised or identified enough.

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 15:33:51

Once again, grin at Anna , how very presumptuous. Actually, my fiancée has never called me a name and I've never called him one. If I saw a pattern of that emerging I would address it and if it didn't stop I would end the relationship. But I wouldn't end it after one instance, not would I end it because he used the word cunt in particular.. I'm a big girl grin

strumpetpumpkin Sat 17-Nov-12 15:36:52

Abigail adams. Without knowing how the argument started, what it was about, how it went, and the backstory behind it, im very reluctant to label a guy an abuser for muttering the word cunt under his breath AFTER an argument.
It sounds like whatever they meant to sort out, wasnt sorted out at all, and hes left feeling still pissed off.

I wouldnt like it. I dont fight like that, but if you would shout ABUSER about that without knowing any other details, then id say that you were being a bit hysterical

AbigailAdams Sat 17-Nov-12 15:42:15

"hysterical" hmm.

Just another word I suppose?

AbigailAdams Sat 17-Nov-12 15:44:49

Words have meanings, history and context. You choosing to ignore that doesn't eradicate it.

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 15:46:53

Yes just another word grin unless you have a bunch of people over thinking and allotting it more power than it actually has..

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 15:47:35

It means female genitalia and I rather like mine.. grin

BelaLugosisShed Sat 17-Nov-12 15:51:14

In this particular scenario, where an angry man is calling his wife a cunt, it is verbal/emotional abuse underlined by a misogynistic attitude - it is the worst thing a man can call a woman (along with whore) and if men don't understand that then they need educating as to the reason why, only men who hate and despise women would call a woman a cunt. The only thing I can think of as comparable in reverse is if a woman called her husband a paedophile or a rapist when she was angry with him.

AbigailAdams Sat 17-Nov-12 15:57:54

Lots of words used as an insult are female genitalia. It isn't a coincidence.

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 15:59:28

And you know that's his underlying thoughts and emotions do you? I hmm don't think so! Who put you inside his head?? Maybe he calls anyone who's annoyed him a cunt and its nothing at all to do with her being a woman?
Really, must be fantastic being able to mind read...

BelaLugosisShed Sat 17-Nov-12 16:01:01

HappyGirl, you would do well to read up on abusive men.
If all the word cunt meant ( in the context of a man calling a woman) was vagina, I wouldn't be remotely upset , it's simply the fact that men who call women cunts regard them as lesser human beings, it's meant as the ultimate putdown.
Calling a man a "cock" isn't abusive because there is no innate hatred behind it.
Insults that involve calling people by a female name (usually genitalia related) , are hugely woman-hating, always inferring that anything do with being a woman is inferior by default.

FiercePanda Sat 17-Nov-12 16:01:14

If my DP called me a cunt/bitch/fucking XYorZ, it would be a pretty clear indication of his contempt and utter lack of respect for me. He'd be binned, no exceptions.

I feel sorry for anyone, male or female, who tries to rationalise things like this as "it was one time", "everyone swears", or "it's just a word". It's nothing to do with the word or swearing, it's an example of him/her showing just how little he thinks of you, and how comfortable he is in showing it because he knows you won't stand up for yourself. That's why I won't tolerate any kind of name-calling, and if having some self-esteem makes me "prim", "boring" or "old fashioned", so be it (although I think it's pretty desperate that being unwilling to stand for being called names is considered "prim".)

AbigailAdams Sat 17-Nov-12 16:04:57

Yy to Bela and FiercePanda.

BelaLugosisShed Sat 17-Nov-12 16:05:33

HappyGirl, are you being deliberately dense?
Only a particular type of man deliberately calls his wife a cunt, no matter of it's a word in his general vocabulary or not. If he doesn't see anything wrong with it and doesn't understand the inferrance, then he must be really really stupid.

Whatnowffs Sat 17-Nov-12 16:05:52

My FIL is a lovely man, i'd go so far as to say that he is a gentleman. The is respectful, polite and kind. He also uses the word cunt in general conversation (i have had to ask DP to pull him up on it in the past, obviously not acceptable in front of children. Its just the sort of person he is - think Alf Garnet without the racism. He might say, "oh you know that silly cunt down the road........."

My DP has called me a cunt before, now i COULD get all on my high horse about it, i was thinking about it today, we had a "play" argument in the car today, we got lost (sort of) he didn't MEAN it, it made me think about this thread. We also might use it if we one of us said we were going to do something ridiculous or being UR about something, "don't be a cunt" other people might say don't be a twat and that would be perfectly acceptable. I'm not sure i would like "you are a cunt" or "cunt" muttered under breath in an argument - because walking away from me in an argument fries my head and is garunteed to escalate things. I'd be more angry about that than the word that was used.

I cannot say that this man isn't abusive to his wife, because i don't know the rest of the circumstances, but for me, this doesn't make him a woman hater. I am just not that BOTHERED by the word. I reserve cunt for times when i am immediately angry or frustrated, i used to have a job that involved doing something stupidly fiddly, it would take a long time and it could go wrong easily and it would be back to stage one - i don't think i have ever used the word cunt quite so frequently, the other guy in the lab was the same - everything would be quiet then all of a suden one of us would utter - you Cunt!!!! It really was the only word that was appropriate for the level of frustration. Its a great word.

My DP also uses it in a sexual context, if i am aroused i actually find it quite horny, but in an non aroused state if he were to call my vagina my cunt he would get a hmm face.

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 16:09:45

Oh we have a whole stable of mind readers now...
I know plenty of people who use the word cunt (and other swear words) frequently.. They'd be as quick to call a man a cunt as a woman. Who are you to say they mean it differently.
I personally don't swear very much, but that's my choice..
How you can honestly say they you know the intention of everyone who uses the word and that they're all misogynistic ?? Some will be, some won't! Some real misogynists won't even use the word cunt. Imagine that!!

Well, your talents know no ends..

Oh and dick, dickhead, knob, prick.. can be used as insults too.

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 16:12:53

Oh god Bela do grow up and stop seeing things so simplistically..

lovemenot Sat 17-Nov-12 16:13:15

My fw knows how much I hate the word so if called me a C* it would certainly deemed abusive.

After an argument where he called me a fucking bitch over and over, and then told me he reserved the right to call me this if I deserved it, he only backtracked when I asked him how we were going to handle seperation. No more chances when it comes to name calling.

AnnaFurLact1c Sat 17-Nov-12 16:22:04

You are completely and utterly wrong happygirl.

And a minimiser of abuse.

WantToMakeThingsRight Sat 17-Nov-12 16:26:08

It's a word ffs nothing more nothing less don't give it power...sticks and stones and all that..

Seriously ending a 30 year marriage over a word get a life

It should not be about the word it is more about the lack of respect

AbigailAdams Sat 17-Nov-12 16:31:18

Well yes Wantto makethingsright. That is kind of the point. The word conveys the disrespect.

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 16:32:59

Have you actually read any of my posts Anna ?
Oh I forgot, you don't have to, you can simply read my mind.. wink

Offred Sat 17-Nov-12 16:43:07

I think it is valid to examine what calling your wife a cunt might mean in this context. It is an insult which reduces a woman to nothing more than a cunt, it is not the same as vagina, it is about the sexual pleasure a man can take from the vagina, it is extremely threatening.... Sometimes, and sometimes it is just a nasty word... How do you know which and why would you take the chance? Being realistic I think I would not leave over one time although I think it would be perfectly rational to do so as once you have crossed the line and it has been tolerated it is very hard to then redraw it.

DioneTheDiabolist Sat 17-Nov-12 16:47:47

Jeez. My mum used to use the word cunt. I heard her call my father this quite a few times. They just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. They sometimes get angry and argue. Big deal. It doesn't mean that they don't love eachother and are abusive.

By contrast my ExH was abusive. He never called me a cunt.

No one here knows what is going on in this marriage so to shout abuse because the H muttered cunt is more indicative of what is going on the head of the posters than in the relationship being discussed.

AnnaFurLact1c Sat 17-Nov-12 16:49:26

I'm not interested in reading your mind happy. I have a feeling it wouldn't be an entirely fulfilling exercise anyway.

MrsWolowitz Sat 17-Nov-12 17:06:58

HappyGirl I agree with you.

I say cunt sometimes, it's just an word. Not everyone analyses the meaning if every word they say. I say fuck a lot too, that doesn't mean I am literally referring to sex just as saying cunt doesn't literally mean they are referring to a vagina.

He muttered it under his breath. It's not abuse! It's people having an argument. He needs to apologise yes and not do it again but it's not abuse.

HappyGirlNow Sat 17-Nov-12 17:13:10

Your prerogative Anna grin
Thanks Mrs Wolowitz, glad someone else has a balanced view..

strumpetpumpkin Sat 17-Nov-12 17:13:26

I use the word fairly freely myself.

It generally shows my contempt for the washing machine or whatever im having trouble with at the time. Ive probably muttered it about many people during times of PMT.

I dont think im a nasty or abusive person, just a bit prone to swearing under my breath

50shadesofgreyhair Sat 17-Nov-12 18:12:05

For some people, the word is completely taboo - and for others, it's frequently used and means far less. I work with a doctor who frequently calls the photocopier this, and have members of my family who would be appalled and shocked if they heard him say it. In this context, because I know him, I just laugh it off when I hear him because the photocopier doesn't give a shit about the language he uses! Yet if he called me or another colleague it, he'd be out of a job. So it is a frequently used four letter word and the effect of it is surely determined by the circumstances it is used in, and the feelings people have about it's use.

We don't know the dynamics of the couple involved, and regardless of our opinions of the word, the lady called it is upset, and her friend, the OP doesn't know what to say to her, so wants our advice.

Mine, for what it's worth, is that the word is forgiveable if this guy uses the word a lot, about a lot of stuff. If he just uses it about her, then there's a lot of anger, rage, resentment and undermining of the lady concerned.

So, if it's a word he only reserves for her, then I'd tell her to talk to him about the issues leading up to the word, not the word itself.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Sat 17-Nov-12 18:47:01

Thing is, people do use words referring to male genitalia as terms of abuse, as well. People call unpleasant or unsatisfactory men (or even nice ones that they are having a go at) pricks, knobs, bellends, dicks.

And I do think an insistence that everyone who uses a particular word to express annoyance, anger or exasperation is meaning exactly the same thing and conveying the exact same attitude is pretty immature. It puts you in the book-burner camp. Making certain words taboo can also actually be a bullying tactic: if you are in the wrong and someone who is angry with you resorts, in exasperation, to using a Bad Word, you can shit your pants and scream and reclaim the moral high ground because of the Terrible Thing S/he Said even if you were wholly in the wrong at the start of the argument.

50shadesofgreyhair Sat 17-Nov-12 19:01:24

Exactly Solid Gold.

So many of use on here (me included) call our exes 'Twunts' but I never say that as an attack on fellow women....

Offred Sat 17-Nov-12 19:10:55

I agree with you sgb but for me it wouldn't be about the particular word but that the relationship was an environment where disrespectful and offensive names were being used. Ultimately I'd like to think I'd not value any relationship so highly that I'd keep it going on in those circs, just what is the point? I'd be happier on my own than being with someone who called me any nasty name when we argued. Actually ending things is a different matter and this is my view on my own boundaries for some people names/language doesn't matter or mean disrespect. To me it does.

Offred Sat 17-Nov-12 19:13:14

Still think it is valid to examine the particular word and the ways people use it though as it would be to think about any word; dick, bastard, bitch etc

BelaLugosisShed Sat 17-Nov-12 20:03:49

That's odd SGB, you have said before that a man calling a woman a cunt is a big red flag towards abusive behavior.
I was talking specifically about a man calling a woman a cunt in anger, not about use of the word in general , although I abhor it and think it shows a massive lack of respect towards others if used in conversation, but that is just my personal viewpoint .

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Sat 17-Nov-12 21:08:55

Bela: Not something I remember posting, but it would probably be in context of several red flags showing at once.

ccarpenton Sat 17-Nov-12 21:32:32

Muttering it indicates it was some attempt at feeling in control. The fact he didn't yell it in your friend's face shows he probably doesn't feel particularly dominant.

I would hazard a guess that your friend's husband had "lost" that particular argument. If your friend was shocked by him using it, then chances are he has never used it or anything like it before.

Sorry to say, I think your friend's husband is the one at the end of his tether here. He clearly has something very, very heavy on his mind to go that far when it sounds like he has not done anything like this before (based on your friend's shock at hearing it).

For the word to spill out, he has probably been shouting it in his head for days beforehand. I would say this was a snap. If there are more over the coming weeks, then there is something big on the horizon.

Gennz Sun 18-Nov-12 07:06:50

this thread is unintentionally hilarious. I don't think it's a sacking offence, in and of itself.

I've def called DH a cunt before. He was probably being one. Not sure if he's called me one or not. Probably, though.

(and we've been together 11 years, both well educated, and I'm 100% sure he respects me. We're just gutter mouths).

SorryMyLollipop Sun 18-Nov-12 08:28:04

What 50shades said.

None of us can be sure of the "power" of the word cunt in this relationship. She was upset so obviously it is a BAD THING in this case. But he may not have known how offensive she finds that word. He does now. If he continues then that would be very bad.

It was muttered, not screamed in her face as she was being pinned down.

Personally I find "bitch" more of an insulting, woman-hating word. As other posters have said, men can be called cunts too.

I love the word cunt. I have a potty mouth though.

I don't use it aggressively though.

Offred Sun 18-Nov-12 09:10:03

I don't find the thread "hilarious", I'm not particularly hung up about any word in particular, I feel they get their power from how they are used but you equally shouldn't divorce them completely from their origins; those should be understood.

People are perfectly entitled to set their own boundaries for how they want to be treated. Something I really dislike is the idea that people should adjust their boundaries or standards according to what other people say, do or think; this "what is normal?". I think some on this thread are going to some lengths to bully others snidely about "balance", reason and hysteria because they don't share the same (lower) standard.

I don't really get why finding the use of, what are generally considered offensive terms, offensive deserves such sneering? Ok if your personal standard is different that's your choice but other people setting their boundary differently shouldn't threaten you if you are completely comfortable with your choice.

TurnipCake Sun 18-Nov-12 09:20:52

Brilliant post, Offred.

NorthernNobody Sun 18-Nov-12 09:23:10

Yes. Excellent post

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Sun 18-Nov-12 09:41:05

Offred: Of course people should set their own boundaries for their own interactions. But some posters on this thread are insisting that their definitions of the Bad Word are the only valid definitions and therefore the word must be taboo. It's the pro-censorship dead end of feminism, basically.

(It's also a common woman-hater tactic, especially among left-wing men, to get all Student Gwant about 'policitally incorrect' language when a woman disagrees with them...)

DrinkFeckArseGirls Sun 18-Nov-12 09:44:17

What if she called him a nob under her breath? Would you say she was abusive?

JugglingWithPossibilities Sun 18-Nov-12 09:46:42

Yes, I have to say I don't find anything hilarious here either.
But then I've been on the receiving end of this type of behaviour sad

NoraGainesborough Sun 18-Nov-12 09:54:31

Its a word. For some people its, clearly, extremely offensive and a deal breaker. For others it depends on circumstances and for for another group its along the same lines as saying 'oh ffs'.

Basically whether its abusive or not depends on the situation and couple. People are allowed to feel differently and have different expectations. What's ok for one couple may not be on for another. Its life.

ProcrastinatingPanda Sun 18-Nov-12 09:55:18

People would seriously end their marriage over this? hmm

Where I'm from, the word cunt is used to describe men more often that it's used to describe women.

HappyGirlNow Sun 18-Nov-12 10:10:30

Offred it's the fact that we're being told that the use of this word in these circumstances (of which we know very little) must be abuse
Sorry, I find that ridiculous.

And I do know lots of women who jump on some kind of hysteria bandwagon at the mere utterance of the word without really thinking about it.. It's just 'the done thing' to say it's the most awful word ever. This exasperates and annoys me in equal measure and I find it difficult not to challenge this at every opportunity.

If someone has genuinely thought about it and still finds it offensive fair enough but I think this is often not the case.

My opinions on this (for further clarification as I've been called a 'minimiser of abuse' hmm or some such nonsense upthread):
Name calling is not good and should be addressed but
We can't say someone is abusive or misogynistic based solely on the use of a single word because:

Some men are abusive and don't say cunt
Some men are abusive and do say cunt
Some men aren't abusive and don't say cunt
Some men aren't abusive and do say cunt

I don't swear much but when I do I can be a real potty mouth and I would use the word cunt as easily as I'd use the word dick or fuck or knob or bastard.. I've been a really potty mouth on this thread blush

JudeFawley Sun 18-Nov-12 10:19:24

I don't have a problem with the word cunt; I am partial to any swear word.

But I would have a big problem with my husband calling me names.

Offred Sun 18-Nov-12 10:43:17

Calling someone a cunt is verbal abuse though. What people differ on is the significance of it. I don't think anybody could reasonably argue that it wasn't verbal abuse; how bad it is depends on the power behind it.

HappyGirlNow Sun 18-Nov-12 10:46:19

I think everyone is agreed that the husband shouldn't be calling the wife names..

JugglingWithPossibilities Sun 18-Nov-12 10:47:57

If you have a good enough relationship with your partner that you're not upset when he calls you a cunt then lucky you.
For some of us it's very distressing, and sadly indicitive of wider issues and emotional abuse in our relationships.

Offred Sun 18-Nov-12 10:49:29

Yeah, that's all I thought people were saying. It is the word "abuse" which got people's backs up BUT I think people need to get used to it. An incident of verbal abuse does not an abusive relationship make if it isn't an abusive relationship when looked at holistically then that incident is still an incident of verbal abuse IYSWIM.

HappyGirlNow Sun 18-Nov-12 10:51:39

juggling of course I would be upset being called a cunt or any other name. Name calling should be tackled. The argument was over the perceived meaning and strength of the word itself.
But as you say, there are other issues in abusive relationships too. No woman should tolerate a man who is abusive to them.

Offred Sun 18-Nov-12 10:55:04

But happy do you not think another problem on this thread is the over perceived meaning and strength of the word abuse? It is also just a word and calling an intimate partner a cunt is absolutely factually described as verbal abuse.

SorryMyLollipop Sun 18-Nov-12 11:02:59

So is muttering "a bad word" under your breath abusive?

SorryMyLollipop Sun 18-Nov-12 11:05:43

What I mean is, is muttering "@%23*€" to yourself as bad as saying "you're a @%23*€" to someone directly?

Some people seem to be equating them

Offred Sun 18-Nov-12 11:07:28

How about we say if you call your wife a cunt and she hears that is an incident of verbal abuse? That's as accurate as I think I could get it. If you mutter it instead of thinking it there is a presumption it is probably because you want to say it directly to her but arent really all that confident about it so leave it somewhat to chance as has been said previously. You can't say that he wanted her to hear or that he meant it to be private if it is muttered so there's some arbitrariness about that situation.

JugglingWithPossibilities Sun 18-Nov-12 11:08:22

No, definitely not Lollipop - so I'd agree it's all about the context - the relationship in general, how it's said, whether there's an apology - all that Jazz.

Offred Sun 18-Nov-12 11:10:44

Whether it is an abusive relationship depends on factors other than whether it might be said directly, muttered or thought I think.

badtime Sun 18-Nov-12 11:14:28

If she was supposed to hear it, it was verbal abuse. If she wasn't supposed to hear it, it was someone muttering swears; it would still be abusive language.

However, it is not necessarily indicative of an abusive relationship. The OP asked if it was emotional abuse. It isn't, in itself, and it depends on the context and the rest of the relationship.

Juggling, in your comment about people having such a strong relationship they don't mind if their partner calls them a cunt, I think you are still missing the point. If someone says 'cunt' all the time, in many different contexts, it may be that they ascribe little particular meaning or power to the word - they could just as easily have called the other person a fool. It is the sentiment behind the word that is important, not the word itself.
I am sorry if you are in a situation where you are being called names in the context of emotional abuse. In the past, I have suffered emotional abuse from someone who was scrupulously polite, but constantly undermined me. It does not come down to the words, but the attitude.

HappyGirlNow Sun 18-Nov-12 11:15:18

Offred I think the strength and power and horror associated with the word 'abuse' may be being worrying diminished by its overuse.

I have, a long way in the past, been in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. I am now (and have been for some time) in an incredibly loving, supportive and respectful one. I know the difference

In my current relationship we have never called each other a name, we have swore during an argument (we rarely argue) although not at each other directly iyswim


people are human and flawed and a very occasional display of less than perfect behaviour does not an abuser make

Of course such behaviour may well be a red flag and we should all be vigilant but to call someone an abuser for swearing under their breath after an argument.. Well, where does it end?

The others posters were specifically talking about the use of the word cunt as evidence of abuse which I objected to.

HappyGirlNow Sun 18-Nov-12 11:17:40

Sorry Offred also meant to say that I don't think I over estimated the strength with which some posters used the word 'abuse' when they ware also saying they would instantly leave 30 year marriages if they were on the receiving end of this treatment even once.

Offred Sun 18-Nov-12 11:23:13

But the thing is it isn't overuse of the word abuse to describe calling your intimate partner an offensive name. It is just factual to call it an incident of verbal abuse and I don't think people really getting used to and understanding things like this is harmful. I think it is helpful. I also think it would be great if people felt totally justified in ending relationships just because they wanted to rather than looking for "reasons", which is probably what happens a lot of the time when people are asking "is this normal?". Quite often they mean "I'm not comfortable do I have to put up with it?"

Offred Sun 18-Nov-12 11:27:57

I would like to think I would leave a marriage because of this though. I think I wouldn't be able to live with a partner who had called me a bad name without being exceptionally paranoid. One bad word would seriously damage my trust and I think I'd be thinking "well if you think that why are we together, if you don't think it why say it?". If I'm going to be with a partner at all then I do expect they love and respect me even when angry with me.

Offred Sun 18-Nov-12 11:29:11

And whilst they may live and respect me even though they called me a cunt I'm not sure I'd be able or willing to trust them on that.

Offred Sun 18-Nov-12 11:29:21


NoraGainesborough Sun 18-Nov-12 11:30:50

How about we say if you call your wife a cunt and she hears that is an incident of verbal abuse?

Depends. It he says it to her retaliation because she said 'you smell arsed added.

Saudi would not called that abuse. I would call it a couple who need to explore better eays to communicate.

AbigailAdams Sun 18-Nov-12 11:31:09

But surely that's up to them Happy. They are allowed to set their own boundaries.
Why do you feel the need to belittle them?
Plus if they have been in a 30 yr relationship where they haven't been called names then being called a cunt would be a massive change from the norm and would warrant serious consideration as to whether to continue the relationship.

As Bela eloquently said up thread verbal abuse (using what many consider to be the worst of all swear words) like this rarely happens in isolation and the OP has alluded to such as well.

AbigailAdams Sun 18-Nov-12 11:33:24

Excellent posts btw Offred.

Offred Sun 18-Nov-12 11:33:53

I would call both things verbal abuse, because factually, that's what they actually are!

strumpetpumpkin Sun 18-Nov-12 11:34:41

whats worse. Acting cuntish, or being called a cunt?

AbigailAdams Sun 18-Nov-12 11:37:54


AbigailAdams Sun 18-Nov-12 11:38:41

Why put up with either? Why even bother making the comparison?

strumpetpumpkin Sun 18-Nov-12 11:44:59

because youre more up in arms about the word, than you are about the behaviour which QUITE POSSIBLY called for using the word

HappyGirlNow Sun 18-Nov-12 11:45:05

abigail this is a discussions forum and I'm entitled to disagree with or have an opinion on other posters viewpoints as they are with mine..

And some people have strongly disagreed with my viewpoint. Why, I've been called a 'minimiser of abuse' and 'dense' and 'un-educated' already on this thread..


For the record, I'm none of those grin

So if calling someone names immediately indicates an abuser......? Well I've just been well and truly abused online.

Offred Sun 18-Nov-12 11:59:28

Strumpet - the thread is about the word. There's no mention of any "cuntish" behaviour whatever that might be.

Offred Sun 18-Nov-12 11:59:54

Abuse is different to abuser I think.

HappyGirlNow Sun 18-Nov-12 12:05:38

So what is someone who perpetrates 'abuse' if not an abuser?

Offred Sun 18-Nov-12 12:12:24

Everyone perpetrates abuse from time to time. Abusers are people who behave abusively and either do it deliberately or subconsciously because the effects benefit them personally. It is more about a pattern of behaviour and the balance of power and is not easily recognised from inside the relationship.

strumpetpumpkin Sun 18-Nov-12 12:23:16

exactly Offred. As i said earlier. Even arguing with somebody is abuse of sorts. Calling someone names, yes its abusive, as is shouting and arguing, slamming doors.

An incident of abuse does not an "abuser" make.

Anyone who thinks they have never acted abusively to anyone ever is in denial.

I think its pretty much always a bad idea to get involved in other peoples relationship arguments. It never ends well. If you were talking about your own relationship then we'd have more info and background im sure.

Was her husband justified in calling his wife a cunt under his breath after a big argument? Maybe he was, maybe he wasnt. How on earth are we to know?

HappyGirlNow Sun 18-Nov-12 12:27:10

You may use different terminology from me but I agree with your point and have said this myself upthread - a pattern of mistreatment is what should be looking out for. That's why I find the extreme reaction to a vague example (we don't really know the ins and outs) of bad behaviour bizarre.

JugglingWithPossibilities Sun 18-Nov-12 12:33:25

"Why I find the extreme reaction to a vague example ... bizarre"

Maybe it brought up a lot of issues and previous experiences for people though HappyNow ?

To me the OP is often just the starting point for a wider discussion

HappyGirlNow Sun 18-Nov-12 12:45:57

I understand what you're saying juggling , and as I've explained I also have previous experience of abuse. I totally agree that name calling should set alarm bells ringing and I also agree that it may have been the tip of the iceberg but some of the reactions seemed (to me) not in line with the crime we know about. That's just my opinion.

JugglingWithPossibilities Sun 18-Nov-12 12:49:06

That all seems fair enough HGN smile

OneMoreChap Sun 18-Nov-12 12:56:53

there is only one reason a man says it to his partner

Mindreading; untrue as evidenced by other posts in this thread.

suggesting a woman who's been married for 30 years to a man who doesn't call her a cunt .....hasn't got a stable relationship

Reading comprehension; I expressed surprise that a 30 year relationship could be ended over the single use of a word. I'd go so far as to say disbelief.

AbigailAdams Sun 18-Nov-12 13:38:19

Happy, it isn't about disagreeing. It is about respecting other people's boundaries. Disbelief, bizarre, precious little flowers are all words that have been used on this thread to belittle those boundaries. There have been implications that people should get over themselves, ignore the modern origins, intent and meaning of the word and should grow up. None of this is respectful of their boundaries.

Fair enough if it isn't a deal breaker for you but no need to ridicule others and what they expect from their partners.

HappyGirlNow Sun 18-Nov-12 13:50:10

And that's the point Abigail , how can anyone know his intent? There is no other evidence to provide proof of intent and no-one can actually see inside the husband's head.. So all this misogynistic/sexist talk really falls a bit flat.

And actually, I consider being called un-educated, dense, not well read and someone who minimises abuse rather disrespectful of my opinions and boundaries!

And I respect people who have reasoned opinions demonstrated by the content of their posts (whether I agree with them or not) and not just knee jerk reactions to certain things.

I do think it's distasteful to label the man in question an abuser worthy of divorcing based on the very little information we have. My opinion.

BerylStreep Sun 18-Nov-12 14:58:39

I'm sad to say that my DH has called me this in the past.

I recognise it as being a sign that he is totally out of control and trying to inflame the situation and goad a reaction. The most effective response is none at all.

Our marriage didn't end because of it, but it was during a pretty dreadful time, when I seriously considered ending my marriage. Not for the use of the word in itself, but because of all the other connected anger and vitriol towards me, IYSWIM.

Quite a few threads on here, under other names. Things are better now though.

HappyGirlNow Sun 18-Nov-12 15:02:28

Glad things are better Beryl , although I'm sorry you had to go through that.

AbigailAdams Sun 18-Nov-12 16:56:13

Well, he spoke it in anger as a parting shot to an argument, within earshot of his wife. It was a misogynistic comment. (Using a part of a woman's anatomy to be offensive is misogynistic). It was an abusive comment. His wife found it offensive (and as she was called it she gets to name it as such). If someone in the street called you a cunt, that would be abusive. If you called your children cunts that would be abusive. Why isn't he being abusive and how much more about his intent do we need to know?

I can totally understand people wanting to reclaim the word cunt as it has only been an offensive term for the last 100 yrs or so. However, you can't reclaim it by accepting it being flung at you, offensively in anger by someone who is who is supposed to love and respect you.

HappyGirlNow Sun 18-Nov-12 17:50:07

Oh so by that 'logic' if a woman called an individual man a 'cock' or a 'prick' in anger it automatically means she has contempt for men as a gender and sees them as inferior to women? Really? hmm

In that scenario she really shouldn't have called him a cock but you can't just assume the rest..

This whole thread just highlights our insecurity/chip on the shoulder as a gender that we add meaning to words like that. The man may be a misogynist or he may not - you really have no conclusive proof from the OP.

It doesn't matter how often we rake this over, I stand by my opinions and everything I've said on this thread as I'm sure your do. So lets agree to disagree.

AbigailAdams Sun 18-Nov-12 18:46:41

We (as women) haven't added meaning to the word cunt. Men did that for us.

And no reversing sexes doesn't work because prick and cock aren't hate words and there is no system of oppression against men as a sex. Cunt, bitch, slag slut etc are words that have been used to oppress women. Prick and cock don't oppress men (although they can be offensive).

HappyGirlNow Sun 18-Nov-12 18:53:42

You're adding meaning to it in this context. How on earth can you say that this man definitely meant it in that manner? You can't.

And prick, dick, knob can be words of hate.

So any time a man insults a woman bu calling her a female type insult he's a misogynist, no ifs nor buts? But women can insult men using 'male' words and they're not bring sexist?,

Sorry, your arguments in this context make little sense to me. And frankly, in this context, I find it a bit ludicrous - don't mean to be rude, I just do.

AbigailAdams Sun 18-Nov-12 19:44:57

Well you are being rude.

I'm out. I hadn't really intended to discuss misogyny on a relationship thread. But any man who calls his wife a cunt has zero respect for her. That would be deal breaker for me.

AbigailAdams Sun 18-Nov-12 19:49:43

Sorry, that was meant to say "has no respect and because of the wider connotations of the word, mot much respect for women in general"

HappyGirlNow Sun 18-Nov-12 20:21:28

Not respecting her (if that is the case) is not the same as being a misogynist. As I said, we'll agree to disagree..

Gennz Mon 19-Nov-12 00:52:35

All this thread proves is that every relationship is different, context is everything and some people are more offended by some things than others.

Yes it may very well have been abusive in the context of the fight/their relationship/their background/how offensive the wife found it – and so on. But to extrapolate from that, that “any man who calls his wife a cunt has zero respect for her” or “not much respect for women in general” is totally illogical.

DH and I sling the word around like nobody’s business. People at my work use it. I’m not offended by it. So in my life, this scenario wouldn’t be abusive. My DH is certainly no misogynist (if he was I wouldn’t have married him) – he’s a hard worker, supports me in my career, does his fair share round the house, yada yada and because he uses the word ”cunt” he has no respect for women. Come on.

Prick and cock arnt hate words? Can't say I've ever told someone they're a prick and meant it in a nice way

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