There is an episode of "Sex and the City" where Charlotte (the "prude") criticizes the desired length of Samantha's (the "floozy") bridesmaids dress by saying "Is it so much to ask that you not wear your dress up around your see-you-next-Tuesday?" I never forgot that scene because of the word it was alluding to which you really don't often hear. CUNT.
Saying it feels jarring and abrasive, doesn't it?
Of course it does. After a long time of misuse, it grew fangs. So did pussy. So did whore. But let me help us drop all of this...
The word "cunt" is actually the only word in the English language that we can use for all of our genitalia (a big thank you to Lisa Lister for this bit of information). In Lisa's book "Code Red" she asked Colette Nolan to go into the origins of the word which I will summarize now from the text:
In several African languages, Kunta means "woman".
In Sumeria, the word Kunta means "one who has female genitalia". Also, Inanna who was known as Queen of Heaven which is related to the word "qu" which can also mean love, sensuality, sexuality, and the divinity present in all females. Cuneiform (one of the earliest forms of writing) was related to the Quadesha (accountants at the Temple of Inanna) who wrote cuneiform on clay tablets.
In India, the word Kunti is hte name of a goddess also known as Cunti-Devi who is the ruler of Kunta which is what we know as the Kundalini energy- the coiled serpent-like energy at the base of the spine that travels upward as it is awakened. Also, in India, Kunda means hole or pit in the ground for storing fire on altars (which to me reminds me of a chalice).
In China, Japan, and Korea there is Kuan-Yin (aka Quan Yin and Kannon). She is the protector of women and children. According to the Japanese, Cunda was the name of the Buddha's mother.
In Britain, the river Kennet in Wiltshire was known as Cunnit until a several centuries back. It is said to be a beautiful, vibrant river and a home to many species of plants, animals, and fish.
In Ireland, "cunt" is used a lot but not in a derogatory way. It is used in a more playful way. They also use the word "cunteen" to describe a young person. One legend recounts that in Ireland, "cunt" was once a birthing call for women in labor.
What I find interesting about all of this is that there is NOTHING in the history of the word "cunt" that means anything derogatory or ugly. Its origins are actually very strong and sensual and the word is actually rich with deep and beautiful history and meaning. So, somewhere along the line, anything having anything to do with women or being a woman became grotesque.
I'll venture to say that the disconnection went even deeper and went all the way down to separating us from anything sensual or sexual. Look at all the euphemisms used to not say the word "sex"... doing it, humping, shagging, bumping uglies, hooking up, bedroom rodeo, doing the nasty, horizontal hula, fucking, getting busy, getting it on, getting laid, laying pipe, and on and on and on. Then look at all the euphemisms used to talk about our genitals... private parts, hoo-has, baby maker, vag, vajayjay, the snake, vajingo, tea bags, man muscle, snatch, muffin, willie, vazhine, punnani, twig and berries, taco, peen, and on and on and on. And just for funsies, let's look at euphemisms for ejaculate/ejaculation: bust a nut, blow your wad, shoot your load, spunk, nutted, curd, baby batter, cream of sum yung gai, jizz, splooge, load, and on and on and on. And finally, let's look at the euphemisms for menstruation: Aunt Flo, the crimson wave, the girl flu, shark week, red tide, on the rag, anal sex week, bleedies, bloody mary, closed for business, code red, lady days, leaky basement, monthly curse, monthly visitor, girl troubles, Mother Nature's curse, my friend came to visit, out of commission, panty painting, ragtime, the red scare, the scarlet letter, that time of the month, and so on.
I know people use a lot of these to create lightness and humor around uncomfortable words and situations but do we ever ask why they are uncomfortable? If we continue to use euphemisms to further separate ourselves from our biology and sexuality, we keep these things difficult to talk about. We also keep pretending they have nothing to do with us when in reality they have everything to do with every single one of us. We all deal with biology and sexuality daily on some level and so keeping up this separation continues our denial with major parts of ourselves. Is it a wonder there is severe sexual dysfunction in many people and that we deny our biology to the point were we can take pills to deal with symptoms and not care what are the real underlying issues in our very own bodies?
The word "pussy" went from meaning a tame and sweet cat to being a conduit for misogyny. There are a lot of questions about where and when it went from one to the other but the point is, it did. So, at the present moment, women are trying to reclaim it and I'm all for it. At the end of the day, it's just a word but what it symbolizes for some people is very important. My feelings are just to drop the unnecessary negative connotations attached to it and make it mean what it means- a vulva. Period.
"Cunt", "pussy", and "whore" are words used to emphasize something, yes? Today, however, we are emphasizing the wrong things with their use. I've already explained "cunt" and "pussy". Here is the deal behind the word "whore". "Whore" became derogatory when priestesses (who were also sorceresses, healers, and prophets) were no longer deemed holy and were then denigrated to prostitutes. In different parts of the world whore means a deep, dark hole like a well or a hole in the earth. The Hebrew folk dance, the "Hora", is named after the dancing circle of sacred whores, so the holy element of the word whore still remains but is highly unrecognized.
From Nancy Qualls-Corbett's book "The Sacred Prostitute":
"I began to see that the pervasive emptiness people complained of could be explained in terms of the loss of the goddess — the one who renews life, brings love, passion, fertility – and the sensuous priestess – the human woman who brought the attributes of the goddess into the lives of human beings. The connection to an important layer of instinctual life – joy, beauty, a creative energy that unites sexuality and spirituality – had been lost. . .
When the divine feminine, the goddess, is no longer revered, social and psychic structures become overmechanized, overpoliticized, overmilitarized. Thinking, judgment and rationality become the ruling factors. The needs for relatedness, caring, or attending to nature go unheeded. There is no balance, no harmony, neither within oneself nor in the external world. With the disregard of the archetypal image so related to passionate love, a splitting off of values, a one-sidedness, occurs in the psyche. As a result, we are sadly crippled in our search for wholeness and health."
Today, "whore" has become condense and acronymed as if it wasn't bad enough already. I won't even get into the term that "whore" has come to- "THOT" (or "That Ho Over There"). That's just misogyny on ludicrous speed.
I've been trying these charged words on for size lately... and not just during hushed or intimate moments. I will be honest: I still feel some sharp pangs when I say them and this nags at me so much. I desperately want to be okay with them so I can chip away at the collective charge around them. I suppose it will and I should have patience with myself, but patience is something challenging for me when it comes to all of this. There are many, many words that have morphed into meaning something else completely different over time so why make a big to-do about these few words? Because these words in particular evolved with a dark purpose which is why I think it is important to reclaim them.
I was only ever was ever called a "cunt" once in my almost 4 decades of life, which goes to show how serious people take that word and how far removed everyone wants to be from it. It was spoken to me by a woman- a yoga studio owner no less- who was trying to blackmail me into removing a review of honest accounts of mistreatment at her studio. She said if I didn't do so immediately, she would call the health department and tell them she saw rats and roaches all over my husband's restaurant. When I reminded her that was absolutely untrue and that she was bullying me, she responded with, "that's just too bad." Obviously, this version of "cunt" was meant to be very insulting and hurtful. If she only knew, like I fully know now, the compliment she had given me and the power she vested in me at that moment.
I want women, our emotions, and our body parts to have our place in the world without having to excuse ourselves. Lots of work to do though... a friend of mine just texted me her friend was told by her employer that she would have to start wearing a bra to work or her job would be in jeopardy.
We are badass cunts. I'm happy we're starting to act as such. We've heard the call, now let's see about that response...