*sigh* I shouldn't even have to explain this - Tactical Ninja
May. 18th, 2012
09:08 am - *sigh* I shouldn't even have to explain this
Right then. Time for some cultural, semantical roundaboutiness, by way of explanation for why it's not ok to reduce my personhood to genitals.
Cunt. It's an ugly word, sounds coarse, lots of people think it's the worst word in the English language. I'm told (but can't find any sources for this) that in Old English, it referred to the gap between the twists in a hawser-laid rope. Nowadays, of course, it refers to the female genitals.
Except when it doesn't.
You see, it depends what part of the world you're in. In New Zealand, 'cunt' is either an insult - "You cunt!" or a compliment mainly referring to a man - "He'a a good cunt." As was pointed out to me not long ago, sometimes it's even used in shortform in ads for flatmates - "Only GCs (good cunts) need apply." It's taken on the same almost-innocuous lack-of-meaning as 'bloke'.
However, in almost every other country (except maybe Australia), 'cunt' is mostly used to refer to women. I saw an example of this yesterday. Someone was ranting about a loud teenage girl on the bus, and referred to her as 'this cunt'. Suddenly it wasn't the New Zealand terminology but something darker and more insulting. This woman was not a woman, or a girl, she was 'a cunt'. Which means she's actually a walking set of genitals*. Likewise 'a room full of cunts' in the US is not the same roomful of good cunts you might find in NZ. Note, in NZ, cunt is very rarely used to refer to a woman and when it is, it's as an insult.
I don't understand why people don't grasp that this is insulting. I really really don't get why so many men have trouble accepting that women object to it. When it's aimed at a woman, it's always an insult.
"But what about dick then? That's reducing a man to his genitals too right?"
Yes, and I try not to use it because of that. Sometimes it still slips out - but there is a difference. You see, you will rarely hear men referred to as 'a roomful of dicks' in the same way you hear 'cunt' used about women. The Flight of the Conchords track Too Many Dicks on the Dancefloor is about the only reference I can think of. And I guess, 'sausage-fest'. But it's uncommon, and it doesn't carry with it anywhere near the same level of derogatory implication that 'cunt' does.
The other way you hear 'dick' used is in "Don't be a dick." In which case it goes back to describing a way of behaving. "He's acting like a dick." "Wow, that guy's a total dick." Which is definitely an insult, but what it's not doing is referring to a man as just his genitals. It's referring to his behaviour. And even then it's not the same level of insulting. Try it. Call your Dad a dick. Then call your Mum a cunt. See what happens.
So the bottom line is that yes, dick is a gendered insult in a similar way to the way cunt is a gendered insult, but the similarity ends where the use of cunt as a way of objectifying women starts.
Kiwis can almost be forgiven for not understanding this because of the way it's used in our vernacular. But please, we have the internet and media, we know how it's used in the rest of the world. And really, shouldn't the bottom line be that if you use this word and someone's insulted by it, perhaps you should consider not using it instead of telling them they are wrong to be insulted?
*NB have a think about the difference between attitudes towards male and female genitals in society - I bleed out of mine therefore they are apparently somehow 'unclean'. Don't discount how much this perspective affects the level of insult.
So there you go. Tats' take on why 'cunt' is a bad thing to call a woman, worse than 'dick' when used on a man. It's short, probably not comprehensive and perhaps misses some points. That's because I'm trying to get this up before I go to a meeting. I'm aware this might be an incendiary topic. Please be polite because I'm not going to be around for a while and I don't want to come back to a shitfight.