Last updated on September 28, 2016
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It’s a perfectly nice little word,
a word with 800 years of history;
a word used by Chaucer and by Shakespeare.
Semantically, it serves the same function as “dick” or “prick” – a signifier for a sexual organ which can also be used as a descriptor or insult, a word that is not passive, but active, even aggressive.
It’s the only word we have to describe the female genitalia that is neither mawkish, nor medical, nor a function of pornography.
There are no other truly empowering words for the female genitalia. ‘Pussy’ is nastily diminutive, as if every woman had a tame and purring pet between her legs, while the medical descriptor “vagina” refers only to a part of the organ, as if women’s sexuality were nothing more than a wet hole, or “sheath” in the Latin. Cunt, meanwhile, is a word for the whole thing, a wholesome word, an earthy, dank and lusty word with the merest hint of horny threat. Cunt. It’s fantastically difficult to pronounce without baring the teeth.
*laurie penny new statesman 2011