I’d call you a cunt but you lack both depth and warmth.


Thank you to Helen Patuck at http://openinglineshp.blogspot.ch/p/home.html for this picture
Thank you to Helen Patuck at http://openinglineshp.blogspot.ch/p/home.html for this picture

One of the best and most empowering of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues is entitled Reclaiming Cunt. The piece was magnificently rendered last weekend by fabulous Vagina Warrior Louise, who by the end of her piece had the cast and the audience shouting the word along with her. “Tell me! Tell me! Cunt! Cunt! Say it! Tell me! Cunt!” In the same way as I answered to “Rich Lady” while on the set of The Libertine, Louise, by the end of our seven-week rehearsal period, answered to “Cunt”, which was, of course, meant as the highest of compliments.

If truth be told (and why wouldn’t it be – this is my little corner of the Internet!) I’m not entirely comfortable with the word cunt. (God, even writing it here without the softening effect of asterisks is almost enough to make me blush – how terribly Victorian of me!). I’d absolutely love to be able to say that I’ve successfully and completely reclaimed the word, and that it trips comfortably off my tongue (er… so to speak). But alas…

Although I want to reclaim the word cunt (I’m getting some practice in here – can you tell?), I’m afraid that there’s still so much that it needs to be reclaimed from. Although the word was wilily wielded by wordsmiths like Chaucer (God, the strain of writing about the subject has turned my prose purple!), it’s long since been held in the nasty clutches of The Misogynists, who are reluctant to loosen their fearful grip. The Misogynists have for so long used it in such demeaning and derogatory ways that even urbandictionary.com says that it’s “considered by many to be the most offensive word in the English language.” (And this on a site that features such words as “poopsterbate” and “poleslaw”. Seriously. You’ll have to look them up. No actually, please don’t… God, I can’t believe how I’m defiling the pages of my own blog…)

So in my efforts to truly reclaim what is in fact a tremendous word for a wonderful, wonderful thing, I’m focusing on the ways I’ve heard it happily used by some of my favourite people. Like my sister Luli. She’s gorgeous and softly spoken and polite, so when she describes someone as a “cunting bastard” you know she feels very strongly about some very bad behaviour. And my sister Pinky and her lovely man use the word affectionately between them after one of their extremely rare arguments. Like, “Oh, come and give me a hug, cunty…”. And my lovely friend C, from the north of England, uses the word to say that he’s very drunk, and with his lovely northern accent, “cunted” sounds so much less nasty than when uttered by faux-southerners like me.

I recently heard an adult male describe a car as “gay”. When I asked him if he was in fact twelve years old, he admitted that actually he’s closer to six. So it seems that pretty much everyone in the world now knows that it’s beyond stupid to use anyone’s sexuality as an insult, and the word “gay” can happily just mean homosexual. So perhaps there’s also hope for the possibility of reclaiming cunt.

But ah, cunting bastard, I’m not cunted enough to call anyone cunty! I’ll keep working on it but I think I’ll have to stick with “vagina” for now…

Please stay tuned for more on that word in 22 letters time…

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