This is what ‘cunt’ actually means

Image credit: @__amethys

Come on, say it with me now: cunt. BOOM. It’s like a blow of gun powder to the back of the teeth, isn’t it?

The rounding of the ‘c’ as it climbs from the depths of the throat. The OOMF of that singular vowel in the middle. The abrupt ending that feels like an unexpected slap in the face. It’s a powerful word, one with an undeservedly nasty reputation. You see, the c-word was not always the worst. In fact, it was once the polar opposite.

Evidence suggests that ‘cunt’ was originally used to honour the intelligence of women.

That’s right. I’m not using the dreaded c-word in the way you think – there’s no profanity in my tone, no pejorative to be repulsed by. I’m using it in its primordial form, the way it was first used centuries ago, the way it was always intended to be used.

Image credit: @clefusb

Sadly, words are just words until supremacists load them with ill intent. The truth is: ‘cunt’ is just another victim of misogynistic appropriation and patriarchal oppression. It’s original meaning is so lovely, so empowering and emancipatory, it’s truly deserving of an honourary, albeit rebellious, resurrection.

Evidence suggests that ‘cunt’ was originally used to honour the intelligence of women and, more specifically, the wisdom of their loins. In Gillian Schutte’s C is for Cunt, she says that in pre-agrarian days cunts were tacitly celebrated as purveyors of pleasure and knowledge – two things I am in ceaseless pursuit of.

While cunt’s exact origins are unknown, there is evidence that it was used centuries ago in both Indian and European languages, including Germanic, Swedish, Dutch, and Danish. Interestingly, cunt’s etymology reveals it to be far more empowering a word than ‘vagina’ – which literally means “sheath for a sword”, expressing violent objectification.

She conducts herself as a sort of lawless, wayward Beyoncé that is as lustful as she is illustrious.

‘Vagina’ also proves an inaccurate term that fails to describe the complex entirety of the female genitalia. It refers only to the vaginal canal, seemingly diminishing its purpose to procreation, and doesn’t pay homage to the fleshy frills and thrills that surround it, nor the climactic clitoris. Cunt, however, does justice in describing the sublime site of sanctity in all of its marshy glory.

In Etymologist Eric Partridge’s book A Charm of Words, he says the prefix ‘cu’ has long been used as an expression of “quintessential femininity”. Tony Thorne, in his Dictionary of Contemporary Slang writes, “The synonymy between ‘cu’ and femininity was in place even before the development of written language: in the unwritten prehistoric Indo-European languages ‘cu’ or ‘koo’ was a word base expressing ‘feminine’, ‘fecund’ and associated notions.”

Eastern traditions revere Kundalini as a godly entity, the Great Mother who births all that is, the essential energy that forms the basis of who we are and everything that we experience. Yogic philosophy says that Kundalini is a force of energy associated with the divine feminine. It is coiled at the bottom of our spines and spirals upwards through our chakras as we transcend into consciousness; essentially fulfilling the purpose of life.

Image credit: @cosmiccollage

One of the earliest known writing systems, developed by the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia, is cuneiform script. The interesting thing about this is not only the ‘cu’ prefix, but also a legend that says there were once priestesses, or quedashas, that used cuneiform to record the financial accounts of the Temple of Inanna.

Known as the Queen of Heaven and Earth, Inanna is the ancient Sumerian goddess of love, sensuality, beauty, and war; a beloved goddess thought to have later inspired the Greek goddess Aphrodite. She conducts herself as a sort of lawless, wayward Beyoncé that is as lustful as she is illustrious.

Along with no-strings-attached orgasms, Inanna is obsessed with the acquisition of power and cares little for the consequences of her actions. Like many a modern man, her sexcapades are innumerable and her ghosting skills impeccable. She is seductive, enterprising, does what she wants (and whom she wants) whenever she wants and, quite simply, has zero fucks left to give. The perfect woman doesn’t exi—

Sheelas served as a last resistant stab at the new religious and political systems that were abolishing any power women once enjoyed.

Back in Ireland, the word cunt as a term of endearment is as widely used as excessive alcohol is consumed. More importantly though, is Ireland’s hosting of the Síle-na-Gigs, sheelas, or Sacred Whores. Sheelas are an arresting series of archaic stone carvings that depict women – often older, weathered ones – holding their vulvas wide open, almost inviting viewers to look inside.

The focus on non-reproductive anatomy, such as the vulva, clitoris, and even anus, suggest they symbolise “the power of women in their nakedness” and not just their reproductive ability. Usually, symbols of fertility exhibit accentuation of the breasts and belly, paying little to no attention to the sensorial cunt.

Around the close of the Early Christian era, sheelas suddenly occurred in abundance across Ireland, Europe, and the British Isles – and not just in totally religious contexts as they did before. This sudden flowering of a specifically goddess-related art form, during a time where the last remnants of a once goddess-oriented world were being eradicated, is strange. Defiant almost.

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It’s as if they served as a last resistant stab at the new religious and political systems of the 17th and 18th centuries that were abolishing any power women once enjoyed. Perhaps their creators sought to leave a reminder of the former, respected positions women once held before reverence for their sensuality, smarts, and freeness was demonised.

In keeping with the new order of the post-reformation church, sheelas were repeatedly castigated from the pulpit until they were widely-enough considered nothing but disgraceful depictions to be defaced and defiled. Today, only a few remain in untarnished condition.

Contemplating the historical oppression of women, especially Black/Indigenous Women of Colour (BIWOC), it’s no surprise that the most empowering and quintessentially feminine word – a word that intended to commend our womanly magic – was disemboweled and reloaded to become the most contemptuous insult of them all.

A prolonged mother-child nurturing period proved a massive cock block for horny males eager to mate.

But why? It can’t simply have been that men woke up one day and decided it was a fine time to begin oppressing and controlling women physically, emotionally, and linguistically. While we can’t be certain about what really happened across the various communities of human civilisation, there are some theories as to how the patriarchy was born.

One of the theories suggests it began with the birth of monogamy; a partnership agreement that is today considered the modern-day norm. Truth be told, monogamy has only been around for the last thousand years. Before that, polygamy (having more than one sexual partner) was the preference. This lends explanation to why women and their cuncipotency (all-powerful cunt magic) were once so tacitly revered.

As evolution goes, the brains of newborns began growing notably larger than that of previous generations, thus requiring more nurturing (titty milk) from their mothers. Sadly, this prolonged nurturing period proved a massive cock block for horny males eager to mate. The solution? Kill them. Though effective at first, infanticide proved disadvantageous as males became concerned with their reproductive precedence.

Plus, as our polygamous civilisation grew, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) became an endemic, forcing people to narrow their mating pool or face infertility. And so, monogamy was born. Through closed partnerships, everyone could keep their crotches clean and safely ensure the continuation of their bloodline. 

Thereafter, the growth of agricultural societies saw people become concerned with the preservation of their wealth. If women continued to be free beings having sexual relations with whomever they pleased, men wouldn’t know whose child was whose, or who would retain the family’s name (and inheritance) should anything happen to the man of the house.

Through monogamy, the legitimacy of the parental union, along with the proprietorship of the family’s accumulated wealth, would become inarguable. And what better way to ensure the partnership’s legitimacy than by getting everyone in the village involved? Ah, marriage. Through the giving away of daughters to plausible suitors, the retention of power and wealth would remain where the men of the family saw fit.

Lest we forget the women accused of witchcraft that faced dehumanising trials at best and a flame-engulfed, torturous death at worst.

While I’m not bashing heterosexual marriage, some of its traditional practices are, as Florence Given would say, hetrifying. Consider the way the husband-to-be needs to ask permission from the woman’s father to marry her, the way the father physically gives her away by walking her down the aisle, and how the woman takes her husband’s surname to continue his family’s bloodline. Sounds like the patriarchy loves monogamy because it loves controlling women.

As I said, I’m not against marriage. I’m just suggesting that we shouldn’t disregard the fact that it was initially an ownership system born of monogamy, in a violently oppressive society where women were little more than extensions of their fathers and then their husbands.

And besides, if the original concept of marriage was solely about commitment to loving a person and the sanctity of the lovers’ union, as opposed to a commitment to monogamy, then non-heterosexual marriage wouldn’t be contested, frowned upon, or outlawed. And that’s the fucking tea, sis.

Lest we forget the women accused of witchcraft that faced dehumanising trials at best and a flame-engulfed, torturous death at worst. And by ‘witchcraft’ they meant exhibiting any form of sass, backtalk, strong opinions, or having sex out of wedlock. Well, shit. I’d be fucking dead – just like the era of ‘cunt’ being used to celebrate the divinity of women.

Image credit: @wearyourvoice

Such an empowering word it was before men decided to be threatened by our sexuality, our life-giving wonder, our smarts and sensitivity, our very existence. Such an honourary word it was until men decided to oppress us so systematically that they birthed a patriarchy that would prevail well into modern society.

A modern society that has come a long way in some senses, yet is still so patriarchally and racially oppressive. A society that still sees BIWOC earn the least of all people. A society where women, girls, femmes, non-binary, queer, trans people, and people with disabilities (especially those who are black, brown, or of colour) are at the highest risk of violence.

A society that sees me living in a country too often dubbed “the rape capital of the world”. A society in which I know not one female that hasn’t been raped, sexually assaulted/harassed, or systematically oppressed. A society that still uses feminine-associated words as insults. A society that uses the word ‘cunt’ only when they want to be the rudest, most foul they can be.

Well, start the witch trials because it’s time to burn me at the fatherfucking stake. I am resurrecting the wonderful word ‘cunt’. I’m reclaiming it in the name of social justice activism and the dismantling of the kyriarchy. I’m resurrecting it because I am an all-powerful, sensual, and wanna-be wise woman that will hit you in the back of the teeth like a blow of fucking gun powder. Are you ready? I’m a cunt and this is It’s Cuntroversial. Let’s fucking gooo.

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