Cunt is inflammatory, abusive, vulgar and perhaps the most misrepresented and misappropriated word in our repertoire. Now that I’ve said it aloud, we can move beyond the taboo and start uncovering the fascinating progression of cunt from innocence to impurity.
I've been increasingly interested in the etymology of taboo words. I began my "Take Back the Hashtag" project on Instagram, to explore censored words and to provoke thought on how the words are used. The history of some of those terms, especially feminine derivative terms, has proved enlightening. Words such as vagina, pussy, tits, clit and finally, cunt, have transformed the feminine body into terms of disdain, insult and shame.
Cunts are Beautiful
Cunt has its roots in some of the oldest feminine references. Traced back to the Proto-Indo-European word-sound "cu," it forms the basis of words like cow, queen and cunt…see Matthew Hunt's "Cunt: the Cultural History of the C-Word". "Cu" expresses quintessential femininity* and "cunt" completes that reference by describing our female genitalia in its entirety. The cunt encapsulates the vulva, the clit, the labia...the whole package. It communicates more than just the vagina - it communicates female sexual prowess, enjoyment and pleasure. Pretty empowering and emboldening to think about.
*See another great read/reference: Gillian Schutte’s "C is for Cunt".
But that was then. This is now.
Through eventual linguistic progression, patriarchal writings and and misogynist undertakings - think witch hunts and prolific rape - cunt was pushed underground and remade into the most base, offensive and scornful term. No one says it in polite company. It raises eyebrows. It gets you censored. But cunt, like fuck, holds power, conveys energy and commands attention. Imagine if the once beautiful cunt reclaimed its position as a revered reference to the female sex? Would could we achieve as women if these negative female slurs no longer carried the impact? What if they became a positive definition of our sexuality, our bodies and our voices?
Looking under the hood so to speak, there is a lush history and empowering nature to the cunt, vagina and pussy. That's why I want to take back the hash tag and reclaim these words that have for too long crippled us.