Cunt, socially synonymous with the female gender identity; an anatomical structure so grotesque, in the hierarchy of insults it sits alone on top, unspeakable and more vulgar than racial slurs and ableist slander. This notion occurs to me when I’m sitting in the lounge room and from the kitchen I hear my dad say “the c word” in amongst a series of fucks, cocks, and assholes. I can’t understand it at first, because I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard mum use dickhead to describe her friends and bad drivers on the road, I’ve known kids who use the n word without hesitating, and adults who use the r word as if it’s second nature, but to say the word which describes the space between my legs proves too rude, and I can’t understand why.
Dick is PG; flung around like conjunctions, laughed at, and analysed in the shapes within our dreams, but cunt is R18+, worse than gore and guts and the sex scenes she’s apart of. In day-to-day life my vagina is revolting—still a taboo just in its existence. In public, men spread their legs and rub their balls; testicles aren’t grotesque and penises aren’t forbidden, they’re funny, and natural, and if you don’t want to talk about them you’re a prude. I’m in public and the man on the train pulls at his dick with his legs at a right angle while I am cramped in the corner with my legs crossed; it’s unladylike to have a cunt in public, to acknowledge it or let it breathe with unclamped legs. “My balls are chafing” is appropriate, and “I don’t wanna crush my cock” is simply common sense.
I blame it on the patriarchy, because in all honestly I don’t know why my vagina is not the equivalent of another person’s penis. I blame it on the fact that femininity is undesirable because we live in a traditional cis male world, where to be feminine is a quality of women, and to be a woman you must have a cunt. It is exclusive, and antiquated, and suggests that to be described as the identifying factor of (old-timey) womanhood is inherently unforgiving. Cunt is the accumulation of every stereotype in the gender binary, which states femininity is bad, and masculinity is omnipotent. We live in a world where dicks reign supreme; the bigger the better and the more the merrier! Cocky says I am boldly confident, pussy says I am weak and cowardly. Insults synonymous with traditional masculine traits have become normalised in such a way that they are everyday banter, and are used in such a way that I’ve known men who happily state “I’m a dick, if you don’t like it that’s your problem.” It is why the insurgence of “slut” and “bitch” has returned in amongst women, in an attempt to reclaim and desensitise the true nature of these terms as harsh and scathing insults bestowed on us by misogynistic men.
Words should only be as harsh as we allow them to be, but they are often not; it’s a power society holds over us and it’s a cycle often hard to break when perpetuated in dominant public spaces. We are taught to be revolted by it; offended by it; scared of it. But I’m not afraid of my vagina, my pussy, my twat, or my cunt, so when I’m sitting in the lounge room, and I hear my dad say “the c word” from across the way, I turn to him, and without shame, I blithely say, “you mean cunt?”