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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.

MrBloomsMarrow Thu 11-Apr-13 14:04:49

Ok, I've shifted very slightly and thanks for all the info about the origins - I'm genuinely interested in word origins and will quite happily seat leafing through a dictionary (sad I know). One thing I don't agree with is that the whole argument can be dismissed by saying "it's just a word". Words are important and, by using that logic, I'd just be being oversensitive when I get offended when people call my disabled niece a retard or a spastic because they're "only words". Anyway, if Germaine says it's OK, I'm not going to argue with her.

OhLori Thu 11-Apr-13 14:11:53

I have never used this word, ever! I loathe its liberal use on MN, though on rare occasion it works. In real life I think if anyone used that word I'd just think they were the prize idiots. Though I do get Tethersand's point that the word 'Cunt' has a dual meaning- it means both a vagina, and a despicable person (usually male).

The fact that its "losing its impact" is not a positive thing IMO. It just means people are using rude and unpleasant language more regularly. I often hear naice young middle class say this is "shit" and that is "shit". I was in M&S the other day and an educated young man shouted at the top of his voice to his friend as I passed "this pasty's fucking bullocks" shock.

The odd swear word has its uses, but I believe how people speak influences how people actually are inside. You are what you eat, so goes the saying. How about you are what you speak?

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 11-Apr-13 14:15:54



But that is very funny.

lori - ah, but he may simply have been being literal. A lot of pasties (and sausages, and ...) are bollocks.

AdmiralData Thu 11-Apr-13 14:20:47

compos my son isn't called fanny no, but we call him Cammy occasionally. Is that close enough? :p

YoniLoveCanBreakYourHeart Thu 11-Apr-13 14:36:59

It always comes out very high on the list Ofcom compiles of "most offensive words" from the consumer research it does on this from time to time. (N- is first - I would feel very uncomfortable even typing it - and fuck is, I think, third after cunt.) So I think it's very unlikely to be fully normalised any time soon. I like that - wouldn't expect to hear it on the radio or TV except where clearly flagged although I use it a lot, mainly as a swearword but also - not that this comes up a lot - as my preferred term for mine. I bend this rule at the doctor's, you will be pleased to know.

I think it is offensive if it's used to refer to "women" simply in respect of them being women - the old advertising shorthand "2 C's in a K" for ads selling floor cleaner and washing powder is an example of that. The women comparing floor shininess are in no way despicable as far as the ad execs know so as mentioned above, it's a reductive and dismissive term.

But generally, in the UK it is used for any person, and I love the more recently-heard variations like "cunting" and "cunt off". It's got a great sound and a great sweary feel in the mouth which must explain those - and they also seem to demonstrate that there was very little recognition of its other meaning when they were coined. Of course, in informal speech in parts of Glasgow and other places it has become a suffix like "one" or "body", stuck on after any-, every- and no- and can simply refer to a person.

Hmmm, longer than I thought it would be. But I think the point is, it is used differently in different registers, and people do know when to use different registers. I do not think children in the West of Scotland employ the above use in their history essays, any more than all we MNers use it in job interviews. It would be a loss to both civility and expressive language if we did.

YoniLoveCanBreakYourHeart Thu 11-Apr-13 14:38:09

when I previewed that post I saw I had originally said "in Glasgow and roundabouts" but of course, while it is the universal term for people at roundabouts, it is not value-neutral.

seeker Thu 11-Apr-13 14:39:23

I agree with the OP. but I am an unreconstructed 70's feminist, and I can remember how the word was used back then- with such hatred and venom. <shuddesa>.

It's unreclaimqble for me. I know younger women feel differently.

FruitOwl Thu 11-Apr-13 14:42:35

Hmm. I prefer 'yoni'.

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