Charles Deluvio

Pop Culture

The C-Word, a Love Letter

It's not exactly like I collapsed in confusion when I read that verified racist San Bernardino Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem called California Congresswoman Maxine Waters a "loud-mouthed cunt in the ghetto" on a pro-Trump Facebook post showing a video in which she implores the public to defy the Trump administration. Selyem went on to question how someone hasn't "shot this bitch by now."

Selyem has a record, nay, a memoir of racist, homophobic and transphobic remarks. A few examples beyond his commentary on Waters? His portfolio also includes posting a pic of a dude donning a sombrero captioned "Mexican word of the day: Hide," as well as a doctored picture of Michelle Obama holding up a sign that says "Trump grabbed my penis." From even one of these instances alone, we can confirm the dude's a shitbag, but he's also notably dense. These memes are fucking awful—if you could even call them memes. But here's the thing: the guy is 50. Maybe he is too old to even feign recognition of what's going on in the world anymore. He has no idea the word "cunt" has all but lost its fundamental significance as an aspersion toward women. And I hope I'm not the only woman to think this.

Being a cunt is cool. If you're cool, you're a cunt. I only fuck with other women who are cunts. I'm a cunt. The British have always been onto something, calling one another "proper cunts" and "absolute legends". It's not an insult, but an award. Even Chaucer (possibly the first Western comic) employed it in his writing for essential comic relief. In England, even men are cunts. The expression has been around for quite a while, actually, first surfacing in print on a 13th-century street called Gropecuntlane (Get it? Grope Cunt Lane. Nice.), a place experts surmise was THE sex worker hang spot. As for Scotland, you call other men "doss cunts" (I know this from watching Trainspotting 76 times as a youth and reading precisely 12 pages of the book). Doss means lazy. That befits me too so sign me up; I'm a doss cunt. I'm just about every type of cunt except stupid.

But it's still much more taboo in America than the UK and the word "cunt" has been in the news a lot lately. Moreover, it's been bleeped out like profanities in old comics (@#$%!) or referred to as the dreaded "c-word." While we've normalized "fuck" to the point of headline use—much to the chagrin of Marco Rubio and to the delight of myself, a writer—cunt still rings through the ears like a pejorative term. But it didn't start out that way. The word only earned its defamatory implication in the 17th century. Before that, its purpose as a word was either to quite accurately define the vulva in a "that's a vagina" type of way or was used the same way we currently use the English word "quaint"—which, actually, was deemed proper spelling for cunt 800 years ago, too. It can be observed in medieval literature to describe smart or beautiful things. So really, it was co-opted to be disagreeable in the first place. We can co-opt it back. I'm doing it right now.

As far as "being in the news" goes: Jennifer Lawrence called Vanderpump Rules' Lala Kent a cunt on Watch What Happens Live (yes, live TV.) a few months ago (For the record, J-Law wasn't faultless here because she co-opted Black women's speech when she stated, "Bitch, you's a cunt." Jennifer, you don't talk like that. Sit down.). Ellie labeled Georgia an "ugly cunt" on Love Island last week, of which I'm sure the "ugly" part hit a bit harder. Liam Gallagher made headlines a few weeks ago for calling Freddie Mercury a "goofy cunt,” (in Liam’s defense here, he’s stated “I’m a cunt” on record before) and of course we can't forget the "cunt" heard around the world in late May when Samantha Bee declared Ivanka Trump a "feckless" one. People flocked to Twitter to proclaim Trump's pretty spawn neither has the "depth or warmth" of a vagina, but I disagree. Trump is NOT a cunt. She's not excellent. She's just spineless and useless—a pawn with no game plan and zero moral direction. The Cunt Awards and the Most Useless Woman Alive Awards are polar opposites. As Oscar Wilde once mused, "Being bestowed a cunt is the most extraordinary honor, so long as you exercise your cuntiness for virtue." 

Since the word cunt is frequently making the rounds these days, with several recent pieces saying it's good and should be reclaimed and also how it's bad and should not be, it's vital for me to set the record straight on one thing concerning Maxine Waters, a Black woman. Many entry-level idiots took to social media to offer their zero cents by comparing Bee calling Ivanka the word "cunt" to the N-word. This is ridiculous. Cunt is considered a "vulgar" word, yes, and an offense, sure (not to me!) but the N-word is a slur, and like any other racial epithet, is charged toward one, very specific group of people with the sole intention of inducing damage as well as keeping a minority down, below, and beneath the white population over-lording Western countries. It's wholly racist. It intends to dehumanize. The word cunt is not racist. Anyone can be a cunt. Not everyone can be called the N-word. I have been called a towel-head before, okay? But if someone called me the N-word, I think we'd both just be confused by the widespread lack of accurate insult capabilities. If you called me a cunt, I'd just be like "Okay, yeah. True." Like I said before, anyone can be a cunt!
So, because not everybody has mastered this yet in 2018 (astonishing), this is why, if you aren't Black, you cannot use the N-word to refer to your homies. It's a term Black people co-opted from a brutal centuries-long history of white-on-black oppression, in the same fashion sarcasm and satire is used by many to cope with the horrors of the world. If you wouldn't say it with a hard R, you can't pronounce it with an A, either, my dude, and it doesn't matter if your favorite rapper says it and you're "just singing along to the lyrics." This is, like, bare minimum etiquette, but it also just signifies a profound lack of intellect and empathy, so it's clear only remarkably stupid people are still doing this, though this makes it neither forgivable nor excusable. And no, nope, NO, not even if you're also a minority.

What the N-word and cunt DO have in common is that they're now both terms reclaimed by those who've been shit on since the dawn of time. If anything, it's something I could easily text my ladies-only group chat right now: "Um, hello my cunts, why no texts since 10 am?" The LGBT community has reclaimed derogatory phrases, too, that they feel comfortable using for the same reason I'll call myself a cunt and I'll call my friends cunts, too—because it confounds the people at the top of the totem pole (straight white men) who are using these expressions for evil. Well, if we're already using the word/phrase amongst ourselves, delightedly, mind you, they don't hold much power, anymore, do they? (It's like the episode of Hey Arnold when the titular character foresees an after-school bully beating, and he decides to act insane with the intention that everyone will call him crazy before they lay a finger on him. And it works! Maybe it's not like that at all, and this is a horrible metaphor to relate to real life, but I couldn’t think of an adequate enough Harry Potter reference, and it's an iconic cartoon moment.)

The point to remember when you click away from this page is that we're all cunts. Everyone who fights back, in favor of minorities, is a cunt. Everyone who feels consistently dehumanized by those at the top is a cunt. If we're reclaiming cuntiness, then sure, Waters is a cunt. Kent is a cunt for being an aggressive woman, Mercury was unquestionably a righteous, proper cunt, and maybe Georgie from Love Island really is a cunt (I wouldn't know, we don't get to watch that in the U.S.). I'm a cunt, maybe you're a cunt if you're cool enough. Disclaimer, however: Any woman who uses the word cunt to cut another woman down is not a cunt because they don't understand that being a cunt is the cool thing to be called now. The few, the proud, the cunts. Just take the word and roll with it.

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