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to think that calling anyone a cunt is always mysogynistic?

(58 Posts)
MrBloomsMarrow Wed 10-Apr-13 20:57:38

OK,I know this has been done before but it's really bugging me how anyone can believe that using the word cunt as an insult isn't misogynistic. I think it's really refreshing that swearing isn't moderated on MN so I've kind of let the liberal use of the C word wash over me but,taking some space to think about it, I do feel really uneasy about it.

Calling someone a cunt is generally considered to be the worst insult in the English language. Cunt is slang for female genitalia. therefore, the most despicable thing you can be described as is resembling female genitalia.

I have sometimes heard the "reclaiming" word used as justification. The way I understand reclaiming a word is the example of "queer" which was used for a long time as a term of abuse for gay people. Gay people then began to routinely describe themselves as queer (the biggest gay nightclub in the UK is called Queer Nation) which meant that the word then lost its power to hurt or offend. A black friend of mine has told me that there is a similar movement to "reclaim" the word Nigger ie by Black people calling themselves niggers, the word loses its power to hurt or offend.

The only time I ever see cunt used on MN is as an insult so I genuinely don't see how the "reclaimimg" argument can be used to justify equating female genitalia with being a vile person. The only argument I could possibly get is that, by using the word constantly, its shock power kind of gets diluted.

I am genuinely prepared to have my views corrected.

CajaDeLaMemoria Wed 10-Apr-13 21:02:16

I think you've already explained it.

By people using it freely, not only does it become 'normal' and lose any shock value, but it becomes a word that is used like any other expletive. It no longer refers to female genitalia.

In feminism at high school, we conducted a study (fully ethically approved and with parental permission!) on swear words. Cunt was one of them. We asked people of varying ages whether they used the word, how they responded to it, what it meant. We asked over 700 people. The results found that only around 35% of people knew that it originally referred to female genitalia. 90% of young people had no idea.

It is losing its impact, and you don't use it and actually think you are describing someone to female sexual organs. Like when you shout fuck you probably aren't thinking about sex.

While I can see both views, I think the vast majority of people who say cunt do not mean it in a misogynistic way, and that the more people use it, especially women, the less impact it will have.

HollyBerryBush Wed 10-Apr-13 21:02:26

Perhaps you should look up the actual history of the word?

HollyBerryBush Wed 10-Apr-13 21:04:11

It only became a taboo word in Victorian times, it was generally used throughout Chaucer and Shakespeare and in Egyptian means 'woman' with no derogatory inference.

IvorHughJangova Wed 10-Apr-13 21:04:45

Why aren't you getting all annoyed about people calling others dicks or knobs? Same principle, isn't it?

GlaikitFizzog Wed 10-Apr-13 21:05:01

You've obviously never been to fife then! Tis a term of endearment there!

If y feel uneasy about seeing it used here, perhaps you need to think about whether this is the place for you.

Shallishanti Wed 10-Apr-13 21:05:57

what? it's an Egyptian word?

kinkyfuckery Wed 10-Apr-13 21:08:00

No more so than calling someone a dick, or a cock is misandristic.

wigglesrock Wed 10-Apr-13 21:08:38

cunt is used a great deal where I grew up and now live. It's used as an adjective ie the cunting car has broken down again and its also used in a more affectionate manner. I think bitch is a much much more horrible word.

elQuintoConyo Wed 10-Apr-13 21:08:47

So, how could I tell anyone I lived in Norwich on Gropecunt Lane?
I only use the word sparingly, where appropriate and where it won't offend. Not in front of parents, obviously! Not really out loud, either, like on a bus.
Words come and words go.

HollyBerryBush Wed 10-Apr-13 21:09:06

google tells me (I had to go and validate)

Believe it or not, calling a woman a cunt wasn’t always an insult. In ancient Egypt, an early form of the word was used as a neutrally connoted synonym for “woman.” (Egyptologists were pretty surprised to find it in the writings of Ptah-Hotep, but as writer Barbara G. Walker notes, “Its indelicacy was not in the eye of the ancient beholder, only in that of the modern scholar.”) Centuries later, Anglo-Saxons used it as a utilitarian term for female genitalia. The Oxford English Dictionary traces its earliest English usage back to 1230, when the street that made up London’s red-light district was called—not even kidding—Gropecunt Lane. And before long, the term started cropping up in English literature. Chaucer uses the Middle English variant “queynte” liberally throughout his randy Canterbury Tales, and though Shakespeare never used the word outright, he loved to use highly suggestive puns, as evidenced in Twelfth Night (“There be her very C’s, her U’s, and her T’s: and thus she makes great P’s”), as well as in Hamlet and Ophelia’s infamously entendre-crazed “country matters” exchange.

HolofernesesHead Wed 10-Apr-13 21:09:57

There are several roads in UK cities that were called 'Gropecunt Lane'. Magpie Lane in Oxford is one of them. The word cunt is also used in the Canterbury Tales and Shakespeare uses 'cut'. It's been since the Puritans that it's become such a taboo word, it was once bawdy and a bit rude but not the shocker that it is today. Maybe we should try and petition local councils to bring back Gropecunt Lane and reclaim the word properly!

HolofernesesHead Wed 10-Apr-13 21:10:51

Ah, x posted!

HappyGirlNow Wed 10-Apr-13 21:10:58

I'm also in Fife glaikit and it is indeed a term of endearment grin

YABU OP. So then if you call someone a prick/knob/dick you hate and disrespect all men?? No, not so.

I'm totally sick of this argument tbh. I think it's a knee jerk reaction from lots of women to 'hate that word!' - it's only a word. I just think 'grow up' tbh. Sorry.

Ps that's not to say a misogynist may not use the word, but the use of the word doesn't then make it definite the user is a misogynist!

LynetteScavo Wed 10-Apr-13 21:13:53

Cock, knob, dick, prick, wanker.

The whole nigger thing is another kettle of fish.

MrBloomsMarrow Wed 10-Apr-13 21:20:31

Obviously, I know that knob, dick, prick are used as insults but I don't think they're in the same league as cunt. Thanks for your replies - as I said, I am quite prepared to be corrected and, as a bit of a etymology geek, it's inspired me to go and do a bit more research.
I know it's a bit of a regional thing - I've read a few Scottish novels where practically every 3rd word was cunt. Interestingly, the Black colleague I was talking about was quite happy saying the word nigger but said that she would never use the " C bomb" (her words).

GlaikitFizzog Wed 10-Apr-13 21:26:05

I'm across the water Happy, but work with fifers!

QueenCuntyChops Wed 10-Apr-13 21:26:47

Some of my best friends are atrocious cunts.

HappyGirlNow Wed 10-Apr-13 21:29:48

Ah glaikit , well I just moved to Fife last year. Originally from S Lanarkshire. Term of endearment there also grin

tethersend Wed 10-Apr-13 21:30:33


"Calling someone a cunt is generally considered to be the worst insult in the English language. Cunt is slang for female genitalia. therefore, the most despicable thing you can be described as is resembling female genitalia"

I disagree- you've added two and two and made five.

'Cunt' has a dual meaning- it means both a vagina, and a despicable person (usually male).

This does not mean that to call someone a cunt is to insult vaginas, just that the word is being used to mean the second definition; in the same way that nobody thinks that cricket is played with small, blind, flying rodents.

'Cunt' is not a bad word- it's the best word for a bad thing.

HappyGirlNow Wed 10-Apr-13 21:31:55

One of my extremely intelligent and highly educated friends likes to write in friends' birthday cards 'Happy Birthday Cunt!' - still does make me laugh <childish>

HappyGirlNow Wed 10-Apr-13 21:33:01

Good reply tether

Stepissue Wed 10-Apr-13 21:39:18

I don't get the cricket thing <thick> aren't they insects??

HazardLamps Wed 10-Apr-13 21:41:03

Thank you Tethersend, that surely has to win the prize for the best response on an internet forum this week.

AllyEttie Wed 10-Apr-13 21:48:21

I think finding 'cunt' the worst most offensive most vile word ever is more misogynistic.

I love the word cunt. I use it all the time. You cunt. Cunt off. Cunting 'ell!

I don't see why a slang term for my genitals is deemed so utterly shameful in a way that cock or prick is.

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