My mother told me that my grandmother once referred to “the w-word.”
It took me a minute to even figure out that “whore” was a word so bad it couldn’t be spoken. The silent “w” didn’t help my brainstorming efforts, and I was disappointed that the answer wasn’t something much more exotic.
I feel like “whore” has passed its way into our nation’s casual greetings and dirty talk. In a world of SlutWalks (which I support) and “Damn, you’se a sexy bitch” (not my favorite song), it’s hard to see “whore” as all that horrible just by itself, outside of its presence in an already-hateful sentence.
However: cunt. A lot of women really hate the word “cunt.”
I suggest we reclaim it. Not as a casual greeting (“Hey cunt, what’s up with you?”) Nor as an empowering term for the actual anatomy, as per the suggestion of The Vagina Monologues. (The inimitable Laurie Penny makes a better case here.)
“Cunt” still maintains the power to shock, and I don’t think people are going to start finding it sexy anytime soon. And in the US, at least, “cunt” is a deeply gendered word. (In the UK and Australia, and in the movie Trainspotting, “cunt” can be used for anyone.)
So we’ve got a powerful and gendered word on our hands. I don’t think we should use gendered insults for women unless there’s a good reason. I have a good reason.
I think we should reclaim the word “cunt” to describe women who screw over other women, such as by blaming women for their own rapes and murders.