Women and the dreaded "C-word"

You know the one I’m talking about. Not cash. Not coconut. Not commitment. The one and only C-word, the one that infuriates and insults you like no other. Cunt.

Linguistically speaking, the source of this four-letter delight is relatively harmless. It appears in Middle English (including several citations in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales) in plain speech – not the language of high society, but certainly not profane. It originally meant chink (NOT a person of Chinese descent, okay?), crevice, gap, or niche, and by the Middle Ages had come to be used as a common term for a woman’s genitalia. Really common. Men and women alike used the word with no particular stigma.

Why, then, is it such a deadly curse now? Yes, language shifts over time – I know that better than most people. When used to indicate the body part itself, it’s horribly vulgar, rude and tasteless; when used to address a woman, it’s a grave insult that usually calls for slapping, groin-kicking, drink-throwing and the like. Why such an extreme reaction? You can call me a dick or a prick, and I’m okay with that (since it’s probably true). You can call me a pussy (also common since the middle ages) and I’ll deal with it. If somebody calls you a cunt, though, it’s about the worst thing in the English language (in America, anyway) that can be said to a woman. Why this particular word and not others?

Let’s get the debate rolling. Clearly, it isn’t because it’s a bodily reference – again, there are too many others that don’t elicit this response. Why then? Forgive the pun, but what’s up with that?


–Da Cap’n

I think it depends on the woman. Personally, I find the word extremely erotic. shrug


>^,^<
“Cluemobile? You’ve got a pickup…”
OpalCat’s site: http://opalcat.com
The Teeming Millions Homepage: fathom.org/teemingmillions

Well, for starters, what an ugly word just in and of itself!

But also, it seems to be used to convey the highest level of misogyny available in the English language. I know your question is more how did it mutate over the years to attain this infamous position, and I don’t know. But it certainly is the one word no man should use in my presence!

Misogyny? I think not. I’ve known radical lesbian feminists that had a preference for cunt over its alternatives. OpalCat, though in the minority, finds the word erotic. I don’t understand most women’s hatred of the word, either. I think it depends on how it is used. I don’t use it disparagingly, but I don’t use sex/gender words for insults as a rule (see other posts on this).

My preference? I’m usually a pussy man, but my favorite word is the antiquated quim.

With me it’s just a cacophony issue…it’s an ugly-sounding word. I also hate “twat”, which is much less vulgar.

I like “pussy” & “beaver”. Those terms make me think of cute, cuddly, fuzzy little animals…pet the kitty, hee hee hee…


“All you need to be a superhero is a heart that is pure, a mind that
is strong, and underwear that is fresh!”

~Dav Pilkey

Ah, look no farther than the dictionary:
cunt "kent\ noun [ME cunte; akin to MLG kunte female pudenda] (14c)
1 : the female pudenda; also : coitus with a woman — usu. considered obscene
2 : woman 1a — usu. used disparagingly — usu. considered obscene

Odd, I didn’t know it meant to have sex with a woman.

StellaFantasia: I like “pussy” & “beaver”. Those terms make me think of cute, cuddly, fuzzy little animals…pet the kitty, hee hee hee…*

I remember a cartoon in some tasteless men’s magazine: A woman camper was walking around her campsite naked from the waist-down. She bends over to pick something up just as two beavers are looking at her from the woods. One beaver says to the other, “That’s unfair. We don’t look nuthin’ like that!”

:slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

My impression was that it had something to do with that oft-used phrase, “objectification of women.” That is, if you called a woman a cunt, you’re saying that none of her exists except that one part, and she isn’t good for anything except sex.

I developed this theory in the early years of high school. At the time I was often labelled as a “brain”, and most people acted as though that’s all I was; they’d ask me for homework help or for my opinion on a tough test, but ignore me for all other purposes.


Laugh hard; it’s a long way to the bank.

When I say I find this term misogynistic, I mean when applied to a woman as a label, not when used about anatomical features. I guess I’m the only talking about this usage.

Except Auraseer.

OpalCat, you hysterical, naughty cunt!


Hell is Other People.

Sure, I’m interested in how the word got to where it is today, but it’s probably more important to understand why women react to it the way they do. I’m actually a bit surprised that it doesn’t elicit a stronger response among the Teeming Millions With Breasts – but I’m okay with that.

[quote]
My impression was that it had something to do with that oft-used phrase, “objectification of women.” That is, if you called a woman a cunt, you’re saying that none of her exists except that one part, and she isn’t good for anything except sex.

I developed this theory in the early years of high school. At the time I was often labelled as a “brain”, and most people acted as though that’s all I was; they’d ask me for homework help or for my opinion on a tough test, but ignore me for all other purposes./

[quote]

AuraSeer – been there and done that re: the “brain” thing – since kindergarten, in fact. Objectification of women makes some sense too, but it doesn’t explain why similar words don’t get the same sort of response.

I myself am a big fan of “beaver,” but only when said in a high-pitched, cutesy baby-talk voice. When speaking normally, I find “box” to be a good alternative to the clinical terms – vagina et al. A lot of women I know would use “cooch” in the same situation. And ANYTHING is better than just saying “down there.”

(confidential to OpalCat – cuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcunt – I need me some lovin’!) :wink:

PS – I’m not gonna do it, but somebody should start a thread listing favorite terms for male and female erogenous zones. Those are always fun.


–Da Cap’n

Oh yeah, I forgot “box”. It’s a good one, I agree.

My SO says “vagina”, which always sounds so clinical that I feel I shouldn’t be enjoying whatever it is that he’s doing to it.


“All you need to be a superhero is a heart that is pure, a mind that
is strong, and underwear that is fresh!”

~Dav Pilkey

I like that word, and I hate words that strike me as vulgar. I guess there’s something powerful and…uh, triangular, like cuneiform, wedge-shaped…about cunt. But most people can’t say it out loud as if it were a word like any other, and I don’t the way it sounds when folks say it out loud.


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I think “twat” sounds like something that would smell. “pussy” is ok, but it just reminds me of porn movies. “beaver” just bothers me for some reason. Not offensive, just kinda unattractive. I think I like “cunt” because it is sort of raw and dirty, you know? It is the kind of word I like to hear in bed during rough sex (wow, I remember sex…)

As for calling a person a cunt, it is just sort of a one-up on calling someone a bitch… doesn’t particularly phase me.


>^,^<Cluemobile? You’ve got a pickup…”
Teem with the Millions: www.fathom.org/teemingmillions

It depends on how it’s used, I suppose. I, like Opal, find it erotic, if used in the appropriate context. Reading it here isn’t doing much for me, but if it’s my husband telling me what he’s going to do to it, well, that’s another story. :wink:

Over time, this word seems to have lost its “zing” slightly. When I was in high school/ college, the C-word was considered the epitome of insult and vulgarity. I have had several conversations with women in their early/mid 20’s, and most are no more offended than by any of the other terms. I rarely use the word and have only directed it at a woman once in my life (in a relationship-ending scream fest).

OTOH, last year in a pick-up hoops game, two close friends , both 34 years old got into a huge fist fight because one called the other the C-word. These two had been best friends since childhood, best men at each others wedding, etc. I still remember several of us walking Mike away from the situation and one said “Dude, if you’re going to pull out the C-word, you better be ready to fight.” Not very poetic, but words to live by.

They didn’t speak for weeks.

My best guess is that, like all words referring to genitalia, it became improper around the Victorian Era. Just like it was wrong to say “pregnant” on television in the 1950’s. I’m sure “fuck” met a similar fate in Victorian times. I have no problem with anybody saying any word, but, as I realize some people do, I try not to use “vulgar” language in the company of those who [Southern accent] might faint and die!! [/Southern accent].


“There are many sweeping generalizations that are always true” -Space Ghost

My brother-in-law called me a cuntface once when I was a bratty teenager. I ran to my mother and told her, but she didn’t even know what it meant! The word sort of lost all its zing for me at that point, although, like Opal, now I find it rather erotic.

I can’t stand the word “pussy”, though - it’s so trashy. “Beaver” just makes me laugh. “Snatch” is a funny one, too.

In an old blues song I love, the author referres to a vagina as “an orchard”. I find that to be rather poetic and heartwarming.

For some reason, the word “pussy” bothers me more than “cunt.” They both give me the creeps, though.

I suppose it’s the combination of general ugliness and vulgarity PLUS the fact that these words refer to the most intimate parts of one’s body. It makes me feel slightly violated in a way that other cuss-words don’t. (That still doesn’t explain why men don’t react as strongly to the word “dick,” but it’s the best I can do…)


“I can call spirits from the vasty deep.”
“Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?”

  • Shakespeare, I Henry IV