The Thing About “cunt”

When I was in college, we had this game we played to wile away the time in the dishroom between onslaughts of discarded food, paper products and dishware. The rules were simple: out outrage each other by stringing together the most offensively vulgar collection of words or ideas that one could think of with the end goal being rendering opponents speechless through horror or laughter.

Laura was a master. She came up with the term “vaginal blood fart” to describe menstruation.

Yes, we were that immature but fortunately little parental money was being wasted in the pursuit of higher vulgarity as the majority of us were borrowing/working our way through school. There is some peace of mind in that, no?

But the word that none of us used was “cunt”, and it quickly became obvious that it was the stumbling point for everyone. No one could ever utter the word without blushing, stammering, breaking eye contact. Not even Scott and he was the vilest participant – hands down.

I don’t remember who is was that decided we needed to simply overcome this phobia, Sarah? But we resolved to do so by working the word into every conversation we had.

Seriously. Cunt became our word of the day for days.

So imagine my amusement when I ran across a post at The Daily Beast about the use of the word “cunt” in the new movie Kick Ass. Apparently, an eleven year old actress playing an assassin minded super-hero casually challenges a room full of bad guys (emphasis on the male gender part) by addressing them as “cunts”.

A British film critic put it this way in his review that he clarified in an interview later,

film critic David Cox to write in The Guardian, “A sorry milestone has been passed. The c-word has become acceptable parlance for children in mainstream movies. We’ll be the poorer for it.”

“I was not complaining because I was outraged because an 11-year-old used that word,” Cox said in a telephone interview. “But I was saying, ironically, that it’s kind of sad that now anybody can say it.”

Anybody indeed, and he’s right. It’s sad because American kids, being the easily led media creatures that they are, will gleefully glom onto “cunt” as the new cool, make-adults-look-old in thing to say. I won’t blame them. Adults today swear so casually, and in public, that cursing among the young has lost its ability to properly shock and draw appropriate age-gap lines.

There are two loud-talking moms at Dee’s dance who seem to believe that the word “fuck” is all-purpose. Fuck, fuck, fuckers, mother-fuckers, fuck-it. Noun, verb, collective noun, adjective, action. I long for Q-tips after being treated to 30 minutes of their general run-down of everything and everyone they know.

Cunt would certainly break the monotony.

I don’t really like the word “cunt”. Using it today will jam my spam box and turn my search term list into a short-term cesspool. But I like it more than “bitch” though I am perplexed about why “cunt” can be movie worthy when the word “vagina” can’t even be used in a tampon commercial.

Now “vagina”? There’s a hide under the table word, but I admit it lacks the visceral impact of “cunt”.

The Beast post pointed out that in the U.K., “cunt” is an endearing sort of words used between mates. Men in the U.K. express male-bonding affection in ways that are very unique to them and, unsurprisingly, were never adopted by their North American counter-parts.

I saw a preview for Kick-Ass and have to admit, it looks fun though I wouldn’t let my own pre-teen watch it. I still marvel that excessive violence is all American and elicits only the occasionally tongue cluck while language is still the main perpetrator of true social violence. Of course, if we policed phrase use in our culture, Fox News and Glenn Beck would be out of business and the Republican Party would be forced to use self-incriminating sign-language.

6 thoughts on “The Thing About “cunt”

  1. I always wondered what would replace “fuck” as the ultimate shocker. I guess now I know. Although I don’t use the word “cunt” unless I’m talking about my own va-jay-jay.

  2. “Cunt” was the one that even i wouldn’t use in fits of the deepest, vilest anger. Despite my own extreme potty mouth, it was taboo. Over the past decade or so, it’s worked into the more mainstream realm of us recreational swearers… and it no longer has the same shock value to me. i still don’t use this one, though…

    i have always been far more concerned about pervasive violence in the media, and the sexualization of our children (a ‘baby bikini’ is not cute to me). suppose we all have our personal thresholds…

  3. Hang around a High School for a while and you’ll soon discover that cunt is no longer unspoken, or even only used infrequently. It is the word teens use to shock and annoy adults since so many adults use fuck as the all purpose adjective. Though to be fair, I’m speaking from an Australian perspective, which is probably closer to the British norm than American.

    1. My nephew assures me that it is common language at his high school too. Proof that children cross culture bridges far ahead of the media and farther ahead of adults.

  4. The reason “vagina” doesn’t have the same impact as “cunt” is because the former is a refined Latin term and the latter is salt-of-the-earth Anglo-Saxon. The vast majority of the strong words — and I’m not talking only about curse words — in English derive from the Anglo-Saxon part of our heritage, not from the Greco-Roman.

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