Photo from The Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania
I have a long history with the word cunt.
Nineteen years ago I was born with what the word historically refers to – female genitalia.
I was 14 when a boy named Joel called me a cunt in Year 8 Art class.
I did not know this boy well; we were not friends. In fact, I stayed away from his crowd of bully boys at school.
But as we sat on adjoining tables in the art room, as I politely asked him if I could borrow a drawing pencil, I could not have imagined what his response would be.
I was shocked.
And I didn’t even know what the word meant.
The definition of cunt has been widely contested. Modern revisions define cunt as an unpleasant or stupid person (“What a cunt!”). Some people even use the word with a positive qualifier (“What a sick cunt!”). Yet cunt is the only word in the English language which refers to the whole of the female genitalia (vagina only refers to the entrance FYI). Historically, the word has maintained its anatomical definition. These negative and positive revisions have come and gone, with some dictionaries even acknowledging slang usages of the word.
In my experience, it is very rarely that I hear the word used by a woman. Generally, I find that it is men calling people they find disdainful “a cunt”.
So, does this make the word cunt an insult?
Perhaps I should take an anatomical word and begin using it as an insult. Left shoulders are pretty insulting, right? Wrong.
The use of the word cunt as an insult is derogatory. Its use seeks to portray female genitalia as, well, bad. And given the fact that a difference in genitalia separates men from women, does that subsequently make women bad too?
Today, the use of the word cunt is seen as taboo. The word should not hold such negative connotations, and when it does, it is a reflection of a society with a poor attitude towards women and their genitals.
The way I see it is, we have plenty of insults in the English language. In addition, we have plenty of compliments. But, we have one word for the entirety of female genitalia. So I believe we should stop using the word cunt out of the context of female genitalia.
I am calling for women to reclaim the word cunt, and for both sexes to begin using the word in its correct context.
One could propose that if we stop using the word cunt as an insult, then we must eradicate other specific-sex genitalia-related insults like “dickhead”. But I’m not going to speak for men and what should or shouldn’t offend them and their genitals. It’s not my place.
All I know is that when I hear the cunt word used as an insult, my genitalia and I are offended, because my genitalia are not bad.
And I, as a woman, I do not feel respected when my genitals are used to offend others.
So, fuck you Joel.
We acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which Woroni, Woroni Radio and Woroni TV are created, edited, published, printed and distributed. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and emerging. We acknowledge that the name Woroni was taken from the Wadi Wadi Nation without permission, and we are striving to do better for future reconciliation.