Cunt…the word is one of the last few English words which has the inherent power to shock, dismay, confuse and offend.
This morning I posted the following status on my Facebook for a good friend’s birthday:
Just for Brendan Hancock – “My face is animal-abuse…and yes, I was born with razors in my hair – this is why the only straight I am is straight-up bitch”…CUNTYmcCUNTcunt!
There may be a few things which I will need to briefly contextualise before I truly tackle the issue at hand.
“My face is animal-abuse” is simply a joke between Brendan and me – I have actually been a vegetarian-vegan since 2002 (I am currently an ovo-vegetarian, meaning I have recently transitioned from being strictly vegan for 5 years to eating free-range, organic eggs). I will not enter into my particular ethics on why I am vegetarian, however I want to make it known that I would never be party to animal abuse of any nature, and this line of my FB status is merely an in-joke with a friend (we don’t take ourselves very seriously).
The other lines (apart from CUNTYmcCUNTcunt) are Sanata Lopez quotes (a character from the TV series ‘Glee’) which I find to be equally hilarious and deserving of constant repetition.
The offending or the ‘infamous’ quote which started a heated debate on my profile page this morning was of course – CUNTYmcCUNTcunt.
Several individuals found this word highly offensive or considered it to be a direct insult or attack on women (which I completely understand and I acknowledge and honour these responses). I am also aware that they did not necessarily refer to my usage of it as intending to insult or offend, but it was implied that the broader usage of the term could mean something very negative about women. Another woman, who is a mother, asked me to not use such words because her children were also on Facebook. I apologised about this, and quickly changed my status. However, I also replied briefly explaining that my usage of the word was a form of reclaiming something which I find to be innately sacred. Let me expand on this:
Without delving into convoluted history it is quite obvious within Western society (and this attitude is also present in non-Western cultures) that we associate the body and its natural functions and processes with sin, degradation and impurity. We use the words ‘fuck’, ‘shit’, ‘piss’, ‘dick’ and yes – ‘cunt’ – as insults of the highest grade. These words all simply describe either human anatomy or physiology or the processes thereof. Why do we demonise these things which are actually vital to our existence upon this planet and directly related to our flesh-and-blood incarnation as human beings?
The dualism which has been a root cause of terror, war and conflict upon this planet and also the distressing and debilitating pathologies inherent within human culture/s, is the dichotomy drawn between the ‘flesh’ and the ‘spirit’. The one (without trying to sound monolithic) factor which I believe distinguishes Pagan spirituality and philosophy from other religious and cultural ideals and values is that as Pagans we embrace matter as Mater (Latin for Mother, and the root of English ‘matter’). This is why we embrace the direct and immediate (Here and Now) corporeal reality as the perfect expression or manifestion of Spirit. The Body is Spirit, therefore all things are Spiritual. This paradigm and principle is not only responsible for pantheism (All is God), but also animism (all things have spirit), polytheism (there are many Gods) and monism (God is All). It is also why Pagans are less concerned with beliefs (which are private matters) and more involved with the tactile and sensuous engagement or participation with the Life-Force as it dances and shapes and weaves itself in and out of Being.
If we preach that our Bodies are our Temples – then each part of that body is an altar within that Holy Shrine. My lips, my eyes, my cheeks, my shoulders, my arms, my hands, my legs, my feet, my belly, my arse and yes, my cock, is holy and divine. My friend Becky’s lips, eyes, cheeks, shoulders, arms, hands, legs, feet, belly, arse and yes, her cunt, is just as holy and divine. Why then do we shy away from a word, although it has been undeniably muddied and absolutely perverted, when it is one of our holy parts? In fact, in many Pagan traditions our genitalia forms the focal point of adoration, worship and ritual theology (consider British Traditional Witchcraft and the Third Degree Rite of Initiation).
I believe that if we wish to disassociate from these words, then we are also making a statement about the desire to negate the validity and presence of our bodies, and therefore our temples. Without the body we are nothing. The Eastern doctrines often emphasise that we are not our body; I would say – we are more than our body. The body, however, is just that – the Body that allows us to draw out from Zero (or Oneness if you prefer), differentiate, become expressed as unique and manifest as such. In this we activate our Hidden Potencies and become the God/desses we are – we enter, consciously and proudly, into our Living Myths. We are endowed with senses with which to engage directly and immediately with the world around us and our marvellous physicality allows us to derive pleasure and joy from these interactions. Conversely we are also open to pain and pressure – but there are lessons within these experiences, and insights we could never attain to without the Darkness and the Light dancing together.
If we deem the word ‘cunt’ as inappropriate or too encumbered, then why do we proudly call ourselves Witches and Pagans? Both are words that are seen to, by many in our Western societies, represent malicious and sinful individuals who are backward, superstitious and primitive. And yet, I have chosen to absolutely identify with both these words, because as I say, they are the closest that English can come to describing who and what I feel I essentially am. When I call myself a Witch or Pagan I challenge people to confront their own hidden prejudices and I open the conscious to the subconscious which draws from the Great Mystery itself. In high-school I was feared, resented and ridiculed for my spirituality, and I was also seen as lesser-than and a second-class citizen because of my sexuality. I was and still am called ‘fag/got’, ‘poof/ter’, ‘fairy’ and ‘queer’. I choose to reclaim these words because I wish to empower my own people and our liberation and fight for equality. I am a proud fag, poof, fairy and queer! I find it humorous these days that ignorant people find it an adequate insult to accuse me of being exactly what I am. It is akin to racist slur which resonates in the words ‘nigger’, ‘abo’, ‘chinger’ and ‘wog’. Some of these words like ‘nigger’ simply refer explicitly to the colour of the skin of certain races; other slurs like ‘chinger’ derive from names of countries from which the insulted are deemed to have come from. The power is not necessarily within the word alone; it lies within how it is used, directed and conveyed. When these insults are intended as just that they carry with them a devaluation of the characteristic or trait which one is addressing. To use the term ‘nigger’ as an insult would mean that the individual using the word would consider the person being insulted as lesser-than and therefore (somehow) worthy of denigration and prejudice. I am also biracial and visually caramel-coloured, and yet have only had racial slurs thrown at me a few times in my life (overt instances anyway). However, my sister is noticeably ‘ethnic’ (in contrast to the dominant Anglo-Celtic over-culture of Australia) and has therefore been open to broader attack. To call us these words does not change the fact that we are these things – however we are all equal in our depth of potential and worth, and thus all valuable and all of us, each and every one, holy.
I will continue to use the word ‘cunt’ as a casual term of endearment for friends (who wouldn’t want to be called ‘vulva’?) and attempt to be absolutely conscious of instances in which I do apply anatomical names and bodily processes to infer something innately negative or wrong. I am a shifter, a changer, a weaver, a Witch – and I am prepared to make change. Are you?