The Historical Deconstruction of the ‘C’ Word

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I remain hopeful in thinking most people have wondered why the ‘C’ word, also known as Cunt, is such a vulgar, contemptible term in our society. A few years back, I stumbled upon the book Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio. Yes, the book does exist. It has spectacularly shattered the sweet, safe way I used to live. I traveled with this book, once on an airplane. As the book, Cunt, passed through security, one of the female workers nudged her female co-worker whispering, “Did you see the cover of that book”?! In a lower whisper, making sure no one was looking, she said, “It’s called…cunt.” I was both amused and disappointed. Why were these womyn ashamed of a word that referred to their womanhood, femininity, femaleness, beauty, empowerment, independence, VAGINA?

The etymology of the word cunt was previously unknown to me. How did cunt become such a detestable, abhorrent word, and silently unravel itself in such a negative form within dominant discourse? Here are the historical findings. His name is Eilert Ekwall. Honestly, with a name like that who could blame him for being a misogynist? He founded a street in London called ‘GropeCUNTelane’ where cuntlovin prostitutes and their prospective clients would gather. What year was this? 1230 anno Domini.

“The Germanic and now English word cunt has verbal relatives all the way back in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Ka-t in hieroglyphics meant vulva, vagina, mother, and women. Qefen-t, another ancient Egyptian word for vagina, even has the letter n infixed in the root. Consider the Hittite kun ‘tail of an animal.’ In Persian kun is the ass, the bum, the posterior. So this is not only a Proto-Indo-European root word. It looks like a very early borrowing from a Mediterranean rootstock or language now lost. The Greek reflex of the cunnus root is gunē ‘woman’ usually transliterated in Latin and English as gyne and supplying a large number of English scientific and learned words like gynecology, misogynist and androgynous. Absolutely cognate with the Greek gunē is the Sanskrit yoni, an artistic representation of the female organ of generation, an object of veneration among Hindus” (Cunt History).

Inga Muscio, the author of Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, mentions that “cunt is related to words from India, China, Ireland, Rome, and Egypt. Such words were either titles of respect for women, priestesses and witches, or derivatives of the names of various goddesses: In ancient writings, the word for cunt was synonymous with woman though not in the insulting modern sense…” She further expresses how “cunts were anathema to forefather types. Literally and metaphorically, the word and anatomical jewel presided at the very nexus of many earlier religions impeded phallic power worship.” So now that you know. You can put this enlightening knowledge to use by acknowledging that it’s OUR (females) word. It’s our core. Our essence. It’s mine. Hers. And that womun sitting next to you. Her word. Her ‘anatomical jewel.’ History tells us that non-progressive men, especially religious men, couldn’t handle our overpowering sexuality so they had to silence, vulgarize, and repress womyn in any way they could to minimize their own sexual insecurities.

Knowledge is power. It’s your cunt. Your power. Your anatomical jewel gosh darn it. Say it. CUNT. CUNT. CUNT. That’s right. Keep saying it. In front of a mirror with your womanly, cuntlovin friends. It’s liberating. It was ours in the first place. It still is. Reclaim it. This is more than just about the etymology of a word. It’s about questioning certain discourse which we accept as the norm. Men: quit conforming to patriarchal values and liberate yourselves as well. Cunt is a beautiful, powerful, self-centered, womanly, loving, dominant, influential, dynamic jewel we should all discover. It’s where we bleed, orgasm, reproduce. “Negative reactions to cunt resonate from a learned fear of ancient yet contemporary, inherent yet lost, reviled yet redemptive cuntpower. Look between your legs ladies. The cuntpower is waiting anxiously to illuminate, to radiate, to emanate all sorts of treasures” (Inga Muscio).

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