The amateur linguist in me marvels at how satisfying it is to say the word “cunt.” It has all these delightfully harsh consonants, with a blunt-sounding short U tying them all together. Saying the word feels like spitting in the face of your worst enemy. For someone like me, who prefers cutting people down with words instead of physical violence, the word “cunt” is like the corkscrew in the Swiss Army knife of profanity. Too bad, then, that the feminist in me won’t allow me to use it.
If you’re wondering why I’m discussing “cunt” right now, you might want to look into the recent Onion debacle. For those of you who are too lazy to do so yourselves, I will helpfully explain: The Onion, in an effort to be funny and edgy, Tweeted yesterday during the Oscars, “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right? #Oscars2013.” Wallis, for the record, is nine years old, and the youngest actress ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Where is the humor here? Is it the absurdity of lobbing one of the worst gendered insults of all time at a little girl? Is the humor inherent in the shock value of the C-word itself? Someone explain it to me, because obviously I am lost.
Even though I love the word on a linguistic level, I don’t find “cunt” funny OR shocking. In the United States, the word can either be an excessively crude slang term for “vagina” or a more intense version of “bitch.” Neither definition amuses or amazes me on any level. Using “bad” words indiscriminately and giggling about it with my friends is something I haven’t done since middle school, and my 15+ years of experience as an internet user has deadened me to the shock value of damned near everything. Admittedly I am shocked that anyone, especially someone competent enough to have successfully interviewed for a social media position at such a popular website, thought it could be funny/even remotely acceptable to use “cunt” in a tweet about a nine-year old, but somehow I doubt that’s what they were going for.
I’ve written a few articles concerning “ironic” misogyny and how it needs to take a hike. “Cunt” is very commonly used, especially in death/gore/grind circles (see: Anal Cunt, Cannibal Corpse, that one shitty local band that played a song called “Maggot Cunt” whose name I still can’t remember, etc.). Ironic misogyny is always wrong, offensive, and stupid — no one here would argue that it isn’t. What I would argue is that ironic misogyny is something that I, a grown woman, can process, understand (but not condone), and put out of my mind as foolishness. Someone calls me a cunt, I laugh about it with my friends. I listen to a song with “cunt” in it, I roll my eyes. Nine-year olds don’t have the luxury of not internalizing things they hear/see about themselves. Onion CEO Steve Hannah’s decision to address his apology directly to her (seriously), in effect bringing her attention to a site she probably wouldn’t have even been aware of and a Tweet she never would have seen, is fucking appalling.
I digress…a lot, and I’m not entirely sure how to conclude my angry rant. I guess I just want to know I’m not alone in my inability to take this all lightly. What are your feelings on the C-word, the Quvenzhané Wallis/Onion situation, or ironic/comedic misogyny?