Please enjoy again while Dr Lori Beth Bisbey is recovering on medical leave. C is for Cunt
Hi everyone! Welcome to the A to Z of Sex. I’m Dr Lori Beth and I am your host. We are working our way through the erotic alphabet one letter at a time. Just a reminder this podcast deals with adult content, so if you don’t have total privacy, you might want to put on your headphones. Today the letter is C and C is for Cunt. As Dr Kate Lister said in her chapter on the subject, ‘as far as offensive words go, you are entering a hardhat area’. (The link in the notes takes you to the excerpt and I highly recommend all of her writing.)
If you are easily offended, this is probably not the podcast for you this week.
Cunt is the word for vulva.
According to Dr Kate Lister, cunt is the oldest world for female genitalia in the English language and quite possibly in Europe. She goes on to say that in 1500 Wynkyn de Worde defined ‘vulva’ as ‘in English, a cunt’. At this time, cunt was a descriptive word. Dr Kate Lister provides an hilarious history of the word and it’s usage to modern times in the chapter referenced above. She highlights that by the 18th century, the word cunt is now used as a curse and seen as a lude and indecent word.
Currently, cunt is the word that lots of women refuse to say.
They see it as offensive no matter how it is being used. This varies from culture to culture. For example in America, it is the insult that means your wife or girlfriend might end the relationship but in the drag community in the US, a queen might be called cunty to highlight a high level of femininity. In the UK, New Zealand and Australia it is usually used to refer to a man. When a man uses the term to refer to another man, in some parts of the world it is the worst insult you can use and in others it can be seen as a term of endearment. In New Zealand, a man may refer to another man as ‘a good cunt’ meaning a good guy. I find this hilarious given the true meaning of the term.
The word cunt appears in literature up through the 21st century.
It is used several times in the Canterbury Tales (1390) and is used openly so is not seen to be vulgar or obscene. There is some suggestion that by Shakespeare’s day, cunt was seen as obscene. Even so, he enjoyed sneaking the word cunt in where he could.
Cunt can be used to describe someone who is a fool or an annoying person.
The word featured in one of the most famous obscenity trials in the UK.
This was in the trial for the publication Oz. Oz was an underground magazine that was at first released in Australia in 1963 and was primarily satirical. It covered topics like homosexuality, White Australia Policy, Australian involvement in the Viet Nam War and of course, censorship. There were two obscenity trials in Australia during the life of the magazine in Australia. The founders were sentenced to three to six months in prison with hard labour. They were released on bail pending appeal and the convictions were eventually overturned.
Two of the founders (Sharp and Neville) headed for London in February 1966. The third founder (Walsh) continued to publish a smaller edition of Oz until 1969.
In 1966, the London Oz was founded by Neville, Sharp and another Australian Jim Anderson. The magazine turned more psychedelic. The magazine was targeted by the UK Obscene Publications Squad and their offices were raided a number of times. The editors often invited groups of people to ‘edit an issue’. One was edited by gay people, another by the female liberation movement. Finally, they asked a group of secondary school students to edit issue number 28 which came out in May 1970. One article was a very sexual Rupert Bear parody written by a 15 year old. This marrying of school children and ‘obscene’ writing was what led to the obscenity trial in 1971.
In the 1971 Oz obscenity trial the prosecutor asked one of the principals if he would call his 10 year old daughter a cunt and he replied ‘No because I don’t think she is.’
Cunt can also be used to describe something that is difficult as the word bitch is often used. For example: ‘A bitch of a hill to climb.’ can also be ‘A cunt of a hill to climb’.
In 2016, a British judge used the word when sentencing a man as he told the judge he thought the victim was ‘a bit of a cunt’ and the judge replied ‘You’re a bit of a cunt too’.
There is a movement amongst feminists to reclaim the term and Germaine Greer highlights that it is a word of ‘immense power’ that should be used ‘sparingly’.
From the use of the word, to the thing itself. Let’s talk about anatomy for a minute.
I remain astonished how many women have never really examined themselves and don’t spend time looking at their cunts or their vaginas. There are a couple of reasons that you should look at yourself.
- If you don’t know how you are constructed, how can you help a partner with what feels best – and even with which bit is where?
Tweaking RuPaul’s catchphrase –If you don’t know yourself, how in the hell will anyone else know you?
- If you don’t look at yourself, you have no way to notice changes. Observation is a key to managing any health issues quickly. This is true for your whole body. You should know what is normal for you so that if things change, you can clearly describe to a health care professional what is normal for you and what the changes are.
So anatomy: The vulva is the outside of the genitals. It includes the inner and outer lips (labia), the clitoris, the urethral opening and the entrance to the vagina. The vagina is the inner tube. I apologise if most listeners are already aware of this. The clitoris is located above the opening of the vagina. Actually the glans of the clitoris is located there. The rest of the clitoris (which is much larger) is located internally and is about 4 inches long. It is all made of erectile tissue. The G spot is actually the ends of the clitoris.
Tips for caring for the vulva and the vagina:
- The cunt is self-cleaning. Douching screws up the balance of good bacteria.
- Clean the vulva with warm water and avoid hard soaps. Don’t scrub too hard as the skin is really sensitive.
- Pay attention to the texture, smell and any secretions and know what is normal for you!
- Smell changes at different points in a woman’s life. Strong negative smells usually mean that you have an infection.
- Do Kegels (pelvic floor) exercises to keep your vagina in shape.
- Try not to cover yourself in synthetic fabric all the time as it tends to be more conducive to infections of all types. Wear cotton, silk, bamboo – natural fibres.
- Take some time to explore and see what feels good and what does not. See what causes arousal, the texture of your skin . Get to know you first.
I have always found it profound that the worst insult you can hurl at a man is to call him a cunt.
It highlights how accepted it is to denigrate a woman. In many cultures, there is no worse insult than to suggest that a man is feminine. Recently women have taken to using cunt as an insult as well. This is only one example of how we denigrate and devalue ourselves. It highlights our separation from our whole bodies and how easy it is for us to swallow the message given to us by men. This is closely related to slut shaming. Women are often quick to call another woman a slut. This is the go to insult – whether what the other woman has done has had anything to do with sex or sleeping around or not. We quickly call another woman a slut, a cunt or a bitch when she angers us. It is only recently that women have become more comfortable with the word cunt but instead of using it in a positive manner, it continues to be used to hurl as an insult.
Even when talking dirty, using the word cunt can feel challenging. For some women, being called a hot cunt is exciting. For some, it feels too raw. In order to reclaim cunt, we have to practice using it, hearing it.
George Carlin, an American comedian, first did a sketch called the 7 words you can’t say on television on 27 May in 1972. Here is his take on cunt: ‘The reason that piss and cunt are on the list is that a long time ago these are the two that ladies said they are not going to say. I don’t mind shit and fuck but p and c are out. Which led to such stupid sentences as OK you fuckers I’m going to tinkle now.’
Angie wrote in to ask how to get her girlfriend to really talk dirty to her. She says that she enjoys being called slut, whore and cunt but her girlfriend is really uncomfortable using these words and that when she does, they sound bland instead of edgy. Thanks for writing in, Angie. The first step is to sit down with your girlfriend at a time when you are not in the bedroom and not planning on having sex straight away. Start by letting her know that you have noticed how hard she finds it to use the strong words you enjoy during dirty talk. Ask her what causes her concern. Make sure to listen well. If she is afraid of hurting you, make it clear that you will not be offended by these words used in this context and let her know how hot you think it is when she talks to you that way. If it is her own discomfort in using words she finds hateful, acknowledge that. You can try to negotiate again by letting her know how incredibly hot you find it when she talks that way. But if she is still not willing, work with her to find other words that might work. Experiment with these and keep trying until you find something that trips your trigger.
Thanks for joining me for the A to Z of Sex this week.
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