Friday, 19 August 2011

Feminist Friday XIV: Linguistics

I don't often give warnings at the start of posts but if you are offended by strong language or only read my blog to see cute pictures of Blondie Boy (hint hint Grandma) just stop right now.


This week's theme is linguistics; I say linguistics as that is the study of language rather than just language itself or maybe I'm trying to make y'all think I'm smart, whatever reason I'm talking about words and how they are used.


Unless you live under a rock or in an Amish community you'll have heard some horrible events took place in London and other parts of England last week. My twitter stream was full of tweets about the riots and looting and I was shocked by a lot of it and I'm not talking about the actual crimes themselves.



So let's step back a second; Rufus Hound is a "comedian" and tweeted this in response to the Malaysian student who was hurt, helped to his feet as other stole things out of his backpack. That act was atrocious; what Hound tweeted was also atrocious.

You have to call those criminals a cunt? Really? Everyone knows that cunt is possibly *the* worst swear word you can use. The worst word you could call someone is cunt and what is a cunt? It's a vagina. So the worst thing you could possibly be, if you are the most horrible, offensive scum of the earth is a women's genitalia.

Dworkin and MacKinnon would argue that the use of cunt reinforces the dehumanization of women or dismembers women to the point that all we can ever be an orifice. No one can deny that the power behind the word cunt is immense.


When I was a Women's Studies student back at University and hung out in a lot of fraternity houses I used the word cunt a lot and I told my professors about it. I thought that by using the word and seeing men's faces freeze in shock as this smiley, little blonde girl uttered *that* word I was taking the power away from cunt. If I could call them a cunt, well then they couldn't call me a cunt now, could they, because it had already been said.


While my professors actually approved of what I was doing looking back I don't think I was truly reclaiming the word. If we want to reclaim the word we need to start using it in a positive light. Anyone who's seen Eve Ensler's "Vagina Monologues" will remember the one called 'Reclaiming Cunt.' In fact I performed 'Cunt,' in front of my mother-in-law no less, several years ago at a charity performance and that is reclaiming the word. 


So back to Hound's tweet. First let me say that his wasn't the only one I saw using gendered language to condone the looters; I saw several tweets calling them pussies as well but his was the only one I saw from someone in the public eye. I can only presume that Hound was trying to be cool (because aren't all comedians who use vulgarity trying to win cool points?) as when I tweeted him calling him out on his sexist tweet he didn't respond.


Am I the only one who calls people out on this? Does cunt make you recoil in disgust or do you embrace and love your cunt?




Feminist Friday XIV: Linguistics









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17 comments:

My Life, My Son, My Way said...

I do love the shock on peoples faces, as like you said this bubbley girly girl, saying CUNT whatever next... although I tend to only use it at football/soccer and generally am referring to a bad ref or a hated player. I have used it in a post about Frankie Boyle as I do believe I couldn't think of anything worse to express my hatred to the words he'd used against Down Syndrome and disabled people in general... I see the word as a passionate way of declaring you're hatred which I suppose you could read into as just passion... I've never thought of me saying it as me 'reclaiming' it before but I have pulled people up on it after they've showed their disgust, why do you hate that word? why does twat not offend you but CUNT does? means the same does it not? they never have an answer... just 'i dunno I just don't like it'.

I am not speaking for everyone here but It has no real meaning to a footy fan they aren't saying it to be sexist as most don't even know what it means... they say it out of Passion and in the moment and it has been passed down generations from fan to fan, whilst in the crowd. you begin being shocked you learn to accept it and occasionally use it yourself... I think when they come up with a new shock word that will be used instead, giving the word CUNT back to its real meaning and reclaiming it as a feminine word.... but until then people need to embrace it as a word, as let's face it it is infact just a word, only when used in certain situations is it deemed offensive so only when it becomes as 'normal' to use as twat, will it be less offensive... I think you should all start using it... just not infront of the children... school aren't quite ready for this type of thing just yet!

Melaina25 said...

Flashbacks of a recent forum initiation process going on here!  I may link in that post but I'm determined to lay it to rest now.  I have a longer piece written about it but again, do I really want to be digging it up again?

Melaina25 said...

Your choice! You could do an edit as to not to give them more exposure? It was a blatant case of sexist women which is never a good thing!

Melaina25 said...

Cunt and pussy are two of my favorite words. I use pussy as a term for vagina when I'm talking to almost anyone but my kids or my doctor :). Cunt is one of the best swear words ever. It's like fuck, it starts with a nice hard letter, ends with a nice hard letter and has an easy u in the middle. Love it. I don't mind the whole "term for vagina used as a pejorative" thing. We happily use asshole as a derogatory term and it doesn't indicate that any of us feel animosity toward the exit door for our colons. I think that words are as good or bad as they're intended to be by the person saying them. Words are sounds to express an idea, so if the idea isn't sexist then the word really doesn't feel sexist to me. I'm certainly not unknowingly diminishing my female/vagina power by calling someone a cunt. But I understand the position of someone who feels that I am, I just don't agree.

Melaina25 said...

I think for me it can't be both a glorious cunt and a stupid cunt--do you know what I mean? For me you have to choose and I choose to have a glorious cunt rather than be just a stupid cunt if that makes sense.

Melaina25 said...

I remember NBH reading that book and saying how overly violent and sexist it was....

Melaina25 said...

It's not something I use in my day to day life, but if I was to use it, it would be with a positive connotation.

Melaina25 said...

I've never used the word. Nor do I think I would. To me it's far more offensive -- harsh, degrading, biting, pejorative -- than any thing else that's out there. I appreciate the  idea about reclaiming the word and removing its power. But (and it breaks my little feminist heart to say this), it's still not something I'm comfortable using. Small tangent: last summer, when I read the whole Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, I found myself having to put the books down several times because of how the characters reacted, spoke to, and thought about women. Some of it had to do with the C word, some of it had to do with their violent actions. I understand that the books were fiction, but I had SUCH a hard time processing parts of the stories because they were a front-and-center reminder that there still ARE a lot of people out there who view women that way and have such misplaced hatred and anger. 

 

Melaina25 said...

Sure the football fans aren't saying it to be sexist, but they ARE being sexist. If we want to normalize cunt we shouldn't just become jaded so it's less offensive because it's still being used with a negative connotation. If we want to reclaim the word and normalize it it should be with a positive connotation otherwise the whole cycle just continues....

Melaina25 said...

I personally think it's a horrible sounding word. It is used as swearing here in Scotland, and more often than not used in the wrong terms. There are far better words which can be used. I just personally don't like it. x

Melaina25 said...

It's definitely been my experience (in the 1.5 years I've been living in England) that both cunt and twat carry a much less of shocking connotation here.  The words don't seem to carry the shock factor that they do in America and are used much more freely.  It still makes me flinch a little though...

Melaina25 said...

I'm in the reclaiming it camp. I also like good swearing. I think there are far more things worthy of our disgust and revulsion than a snappy word for our genitals. http://bundance.blogspot.com/2010/01/may-contain-adult-language-from-start.html My post from a while back on the topic. 

Melaina25 said...

I really hate that word, and 'twat" too. Not sure if it's because of their real meanings or just the fact they they're so aggressive sounding. And the fact that we call arrogant people "dicks" from time to time suggests this sexist stuff goes both ways.

Melaina25 said...

I have a beautiful pussy, but my neighbor is a stupid cunt :)

Melaina25 said...

We can agree to disagree :) I hate pussy, but I hate most words with that hard p sound at the front just blech.

Melaina25 said...

I grew up under the impression that fuck was the ultimate swear word. Who decides these things? Annee's comment matches my own west of Scotland experience. It's not surprising the US is politer, you've no idea if the person you're talking to is packing heat, best to be on the safe side.

Melaina25 said...

Ah the ole 'C' word!  To be perfectly honest growing up in Scotland the 'C' word was just used as a normal swear word, it wasn't until I was much much older... maybe in my 30's, that I heard bizarre reactions to the word, people saying it was such an awful swear word and believe it or not I didn't even know it meant vagina (and I didn't live in a bubble, I grew up in the rough ole East End of Glasgow).  In my opinion the 'C' word in Scotland isn't deemed as bad as it is in other countries (funnily enough pronounced cuntries lol)

Ax