“You’re such a cunt.”
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines cunt as: “Usually obscene: the female genital organs; a woman”.
Insulting someone by calling them a cunt, the female genital organs, my genital organs, is not the same as calling someone stupid, ugly, too fat, or too skinny. Whereas a penis is a seen as a symbol of power—a power that pervades a man’s whole being— a woman’s cunt is seen as her only true “value.” And this value is to provide pleasure to men. That doesn’t sit well with me.
We’ve been taught to regard the female genitalia as something mysterious and treacherous, as if the vagina is Pandora’s Box—unsurprising in a society that often regards women as mere novelty items rather than as beings on par with men. The seeming strangeness of my genitalia is a part of what makes cunt hurt.
In my senior year of high school I witnessed this mystique. At practice for the annual senior girls’ flag football game, a teammate of mine, in response to an accidental collision with her friend, said, “You just hit me in my vagina!” My coach (a man) spun on his heels.
“What did you say?” he questioned.
He proceeded to tell us that vaginas are not “vaginas.” They are “crotches,” and the word “vagina” was not to be spoken on the field. My coach was dumbfounded that someone had spoken the forbidden word—it was clear from his blushing.
Cunt carries that sense of mystique. It says a woman is only as good as her vagina—only as good as a thing we’re not supposed to talk about or even acknowledge unless it’s to the indulgence of men. Cunt carries more than just the malicious nature of an insult. With it comes disrespect for women, our bodies, and our right to individuality. To be a cunt is to be any cunt—any forbidden piece of meat. And considering the passivity traditionally assigned to the female genitalia and female sexuality, calling us cunts reduces us to no more than penis receptacles. When we don’t “behave” as society tells us to, that’s what we’re called.
We’re cunts when we act out of the shy, submissive character that society has historically pre-set for us. In the uncut version of Saturday Night Fever (1977), John Travolta says to Donna Pescow, “It’s a decision a girl’s gotta make early in life, if she’s gonna be a nice girl or a cunt”. Although a work of fiction, this line in SNF embodies society’s view of the kinds of women there are: precisely two. Either a woman is a submissive, “nice girl” or a cunt. There is no in-between.
Our society views female genitalia as taboo, something to derive pleasure from but never to be spoken of in public. Cunt is used as a bad word, a dirty word for a secret thing used to put bold women in their place. That my genitalia are an insult makes me feel like my womanhood isn’t respected. But sticks and stones, right? Wrong. It’s a slap in the face know that my genitals are “obscene”, and that it makes people uncomfortable to acknowledge they exist. Should I just “man up” and accept it?
I feel that it is my responsibility as a woman to take back ownership of my body, genitals and all, as the magnificent entity that it is and not some “forbidden fruit”. My genitals are part of what makes me a woman, but I am not my genitalia.