Why I Think It’s Important To Reclaim The Word ‘C*nt’

All it means is “vagina.” Get over it.

If I asked you what the most offensive word in the English language is, how would you respond?

I’m guessing you’d say “cunt,” but use some other descriptive way of referring to it indirectly, like the “c-word” or a “C U Next Tuesday.”

That’s just how jarring this word is, to most of us. Even for the most potty-mouthed of individuals, this word is avoided.

Why do we have cunt-phobia?

In essence: misogyny. More specifically: because of our culture’s fear of acknowledging sexism.

We like to dance around tough truths, so instead of acknowledging where exactly the word “cunt” gets its power from, we avoid using it and referring to it at all costs. It’s like the word only exists in some mysterious, far-away realm of the universe that is only made real when it forces itself into our line of sight.

We all know what a cunt is, right? To be honest, I don’t think I’d be that shocked to learn if there were people out there who didn’t know or never have looked up the meaning in the dictionary.

A cunt is simply a vagina. That’s it. The hype was built up for nothing.

But seriously, why is “cunt” this big, bad word when all it means is “vagina”?

Let’s take a little peek into the history of the c-word, shall we?

The word that would become our modern-day “cunt” was first used in about 1230 CE asgropecuntlane, which referred to a place that housed a “haunt” of prostitutes. It then went on to be used in medical terminology in the 1500s. By the 16th century, the word’s definition began to become more taboo; as of the 1800s, it became pretty much off-limits.

It kind of makes sense, right? Pretty much every term for and related to “vagina” in existence has been banished to hole-in-the-wall bars and trash talking, since vaginas themselves are considered to be obscene.


I mean, even saying the word “vagina” is taboo. In April, a teacher in Battle Creek, Michigan, claims to have been fired from her job for daring to utter the word during a lesson on Georgia O’Keeffe’s work. How’s that for a taste of progress?

I don’t want to get into a deep, jargon-y lecture about feminist epistemology, but there’s been an ongoing debate within feminism about whether or not it’s a good idea to reclaim words that have been used to degrade and dehumanize women.

Some say that we should leave these kinds of words in the dungeons of hell from which they arose in the first place. Others want to only reclaim words that, prior to the evils of the patriarchy, originally had positive meanings.

Others still think that it’s valid to reclaim all oppressive language, because a) meanings of words clearly change over time, b) we don’t have to let the man get us down, and c) reclamation of these words can be liberating, while also taking the negative ammunition out of the engines of the patriarchy.

I personally don’t mind if others don’t share the same opinion, but I fall into the latter category in this list. Especially when we’re talking about the word “cunt.”

Cunts are fucking awesome. They’re warm, soft, slippery, mysterious, and even clever. Most people on this planet either have a cunt, love someone with one, like to stick something in someone else’s, or like to be inside of a cunt themselves. How’s that for an argument?

Cunt, cunt, cunt. I said it. All it means is “vagina.” Get over it.

I’m not only a fan of reclaiming the word cunt because I think it’s so ridiculous that it’s THAT taboo anyway, but also because the people who do use the word have to be extremely brave and probably more than a little ballsy (cunty?).

One such person that in part inspired this piece is none other than the newest Real Housewife of Beverly Hills, Erika Jayne (or Girardi, depending on the day). Erika is married to an über-famous and rich lawyer, Tom Girardi, who is 32 years her senior. Despite people’s assumptions (Gold digger! Fame whore!), they’ve actually been married for 17 years. Plus, with many hits on the Billboard charts, she’s got a successful career as a pop sensation.

I instantly fell in love with Erika on the show — not only because of her IDGAF attitude, but because she’s also incredibly sweet, loyal, and wicked smart.

The fact that she likes to use the word “cunt” is just an added bonus.

Erika Jayne/Girardi likes to say “cunt” and makes no apologies for it. Seriously, she LOVES it. She says it all the time and in a variety of creative fashions. She even uses the word “cunty” to describe something with the essence of cunt. To go a step further, she uses the word “hunty” — a combination of the words “honey” and “cunty!” It rolls off of her tongue loud and proud and she’ll never make any apologies for using it.


Of course she’s gotten backlash for her free and frequent use of the word, because society would rather pretend that the word — and probably cunts themselves — don’t exist. But rather than buying into that, she reclaims the word to take on a whole new meaning of personal empowerment.

That’s exactly the spirit that word should embody: someone who is loud, proud, and an advocate for themselves. Someone who stands out and is bold and beautiful for it. Someone who is unapologetically themselves.

That’s why I reclaim the word “cunt” — because it deserves to be reclaimed.

Do you know how much power we could have if we took all of the bullshit out of the word and made it something spectacular, something that everyone wanted to have a piece of?

That’s exactly the kind of revolution this world needs.

So, the question is, why aren’t you saying the word “cunt” yet?

This story by ERIN MCKELLE originally appeared on Ravishly, a feminist news+culture website.