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Is it ever OK to say the word c**t?

The most controversial of all the swear words.

shutterstock_265696088 Source: Shutterstock/Manczurov

Warning: This article is primarily focused on the word c***, and will contain many mentions of it in its uncensored form from now on. On that basis, it’s decidedly NSFW \_(ツ)_/¯ 

IT’S WIDELY KNOWN as the “worst” swear word in the English language. It’s the one that makes the most impact when said out loud, and can be truly offensive to many when they hear it.

Some people will not utter it

But there are some prominent defenders to be found online

cword Source: NewStatesman

As Laurie Penny wrote for the New Statesman, women should embrace it:

Men have so many words that they can use to hint at their own sexual power, but we have just the one. Let’s use it and love it.

And she questions why it still holds so much power in the 21st century:

What is it about that word? Why, in a world of 24-hour porn channels, a world with Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” playing on the radio and junior pole-dancing kits sold in Tesco, is the word “cunt” still so shocking? It’s a perfectly nice little word, a word with 800 years of history; a word used by Chaucer and by Shakespeare. It’s the only word we have to describe the female genitalia that is neither mawkish, nor medical, nor a function of pornography.

Cunt Source: Kables

Jezebel have been long time supporters of the word, going so far as to say it should not be a negative term at all

c-un- Source: Jezebel

Tracie Egan Morrisey writes that it’s part of her everyday speech, and questions why it’s still taboo:

I thought as feminists we were beyond this. I mean, when I call someone a cunt, I’m not doing it to offend them, or to try to make an extra impact, because the word is just as common in my vocabulary as “fuck” or “like.”

tumblr_nr2lxj1myF1uwuki4o1_500 Source: Tumblr

But it has completely different connotations depending on the country, as language tends to do

Ally Fogg, writing an article titled The Politics of the C-Word says that to most Americans the word is deeply offensive. But its use in Scotland and Ireland is something completely different:

It states, very forcefully, that the speaker resides proudly among the vulgar, not the refined. It is used in full knowledge that it will cause upset and offence to those of a delicate disposition. It is a statement of political identity, and I have no doubt that largely explains why it is so much more prevalent in the further flung homelands of Scotland and Ireland.

tumblr_mlsjqtykOR1s8l4eao1_500 Source: Tumblr

Taking a straw poll of interested observers in the office of DailyEdge.ie and TheJournal.ie produced some interesting responses:

I say it and I’m not offended by other people say it, EXCEPT if they call a woman a cunt (so if it’s in an abusive way, basically, I think that’s out of order). I like when people say things are cuntish or other such derivatives.

Others were aware of the word’s ability to offend:

I’m not offended by it – unless someone’s calling me a c-bomb. I’m kind of fond of the word really, since it’s about the only swear word that still has any impact.
I would be careful about saying it around people I don’t know that well because of how strong it is. I used to be shocked when people said it, so I guess it’s about being aware that other people might still be shocked and not want to hear it.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-12961-1374845814-12 Source: Buzzfed

The shock value has to be kept in mind, even if you are a prodigious user:

I like the word and use it quite a lot but always conscious that some people are really offended by it.

The word, when used as a personal insult, still holds the most shock value:

I really don’t like it being used and I wouldn’t use it myself. If someone called me the name, I would be pretty upset. I don’t mind it used around me by people, but it does still give me a bit of a shock as it’s the only one that has a forceful meaning.

So, what do you feel about the word cunt? 


Poll Results:

I say it all the time (1302)
I don't really see a problem with it (1126)
It shocks me when I hear it, but I say it sometimes in anger (824)
It's unacceptable, I don't like saying it or hearing it (702)




More A definitive ranking of Irish slang words for penis>

More 10 Irish slang words that need to be added to the dictionary right now>

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About the author:

David Elkin

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