There is something about the word ‘cunt’. You can’t quite put your finger on what it is, but you know it’s bad. To try and get to the bottom of this and to work out whether it was OK to continue to call George Osborne a cunt I did a wee bit of research.
Earlier today I asked on twitter:
Question, is it ok to use the word Cunt on twitter? EG 'George Osborne, what a cunt'—
Steve Hynd (@steve4319) January 02, 2013
What was interesting is that no-one on twitter suggested that it wasn’t ok. Indeed, some seemed positively passionate about using it:
This however was in stark contrast to a conversation I had the previous evening.
“When you use the word, I genuinely get upset”
“There is something violent about cunt. It reminds me of rape”.
Both of these comments came from people who are exceptionally liberal, open minded and would otherwise have no real moral qualms with swearing. In a room of two men and two women, it was noteworthy though that the two who were upset were the two females.
As far as I could distinguish there were two main arguments against using the word.
The first I will label here as ‘the feminist’ – referring of course to the more traditional ‘classical’ wing of feminism. This argument goes something like, “Cunt – as it describes female genitalia, and is then used in an aggressive, maybe violent way is derogatory to women”.
The second argument against the use of cunt I will label as the ‘don’t shock your granddad’ argument. This goes something like, “regardless of what language you might use around friends, be sensitive of those around you. The word cunt is widely understood as one of the most shocking…you wouldn’t say that in front of your granddad would you?”
Here, I will attempt to make an argument for my continued, if only occasional, use of the word on twitter. To do this, I hope to be able to continue to being able to call George Osborne a cunt – possibly the only adjective truly suitable to a man who is taking away 30% of the annual income of Britain’s poorest families.
To start then with ‘the feminist’ argument:
1) Cunt has ceased to be associated with female genitalia in the vast majority of its common usage. This is why ‘cunt’ is different to say ‘nigger’ which undeniably is still associated with racism in much of its usage. .
2) Cunt, as a modern insult, can be equally applied to man or women. In this sense it again differs from words I would shy away from using as an insult such as ‘Yid’. A ‘Yid’, when used as an insult only applies to either Jews or non-Jews that you wish to paint as portraying negative stereotypical characteristics of Jews. If you call someone a cunt, you are making no reference to gender.
3) Lots of women use the word cunt. Are some feminists saying that they are not allowed to or shouldn’t?
4) Equally, are they saying that it is OK to use words like ‘Dick’ but not ‘Cunt’ and why is ‘Cunt’ worse than ‘Twat’? If they answer they would argue against the use of ‘dick’ as an insult I would ask where to stop…willy, boobs, bollocks???
Then there the ‘don’t shock your granddad’ argument:
1) Words hold relative meaning depending on their place and time. I would for example use the word cunt (or shit, poo, willy and almost any other expletive) around mates, but I might shy away from using it around my parents. But, twitter is not a face to face conversation; it is a social networking site. People chose to follow me and listen to what I have to say…in all its expletive glory. If people are offended by what I say, they can stop following me. Ideally though, they will challenge me and we can have a discussion like grown-ups.
2) It’s ok to offend people. I don’t think it is ok to scare, intimidate or bully people but I am honestly not that worried about offending people. I am sorry if that statement in itself offends you, but it’s OK…leave a comment at the bottom and you can explain to me why your offended and we will all be better off for it.
There is something about the word cunt – it shocks. But as one of the people I was chatting with last night commented, “Isn’t that the point”. Swear words are meant to push the boundaries of what is acceptable and not acceptable. Cunt does this. It does this however without playing into prejudice and discrimination in the ways some words do.
It is in light of all this that I feel comfortable calling George Osborne a cunt. This term used in separate to any historical connotations to gender it may have once have held and used as an over the top pantomime villain kind of insult.
Last but not least, I would argue that this whole blog is a massive moral red herring. As I have argued before, we have bigger fish to fry in life.
If you want to hear more of expletive filled rants – you can follow me on twitter here.