Is 'The C Word' Sexist?

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What matters is the message, not the words used in it.
It could be offensive if the target's immature, sure, but hey, it's fun to offend anyone that gets easily offended.

Sexual Harassment Panda:

Mr F.:

However, despite my lack of being a linguistics professor, I am still infuriated when people try and make the baseless claim that words lack any meaning. Its a very, very stupid argument. If it held true, communication would be impossible. And there are those within this very thread who are attempting to make that claim (You are not one of them.)

Wait... what?

I don't think people are claiming that words have zero meaning, on the contrary, I think that most people are arguing that they have multiple meanings... many of which don't get considered when it comes time to compile a dictionary because they're too regional, or potentially controversial. "Controversial" not being a synonym for "wrong".

"Appropriate language" is informed by cultures, which develop their own brand of humour which is itself subjective and forever evolving. It's all in flux. It's simultaneously meaningful and not. So I can't really begrudge anyone for not showing deference to the sanitised, formal iteration of a language that is handed to them. Language is ours, it doesn't belong to dictionary publishers, and different perspectives are valid. Especially considering that the people who tend to get offended, tend to get vocal, and they end up being the people that need to be appeased. It doesn't make them right, it just makes them awkward.

This comes back to my context content argument. I am not saying that everyone who uses the term is sexist, nor that everyone using the term is intending to be sexist. But, much like using the term "Retard" instead of "Idiot" is ablest, regardless of intent, using the term "Cunt" to mean, well, ANYTHING negative is sexist. Faggot is homophobic, regardless of intent (Unless it is being used in literature that predates the use as a negative way of referring to a homosexual).

You see the logic here? Its the associations, the meaning of the word. Yes, it can currently be used to mean something else, but that does not change why it is sexist. That is actually why it is sexist. The same logic follows for using "Gay" to mean "Bad" (Used by a hell of a lot of people, including quite a few gay guys that I know.), its homophobic. The fact that they are using it does not change it away from being homophobic.

I am not saying stop using the word, I am not trying to sanitize the word, or your use of language. I am simply trying to explain why it is an insult and why the fact that it is an insult shows that it is sexist. If it is being used as an insult, it is sexist. If gay is being used as an insult, it is homophobic.

Language IS ours. But it is also the creation of hundreds of years of history. One day if the word lacks any form of baggage, perhaps it will no longer be sexist. But until that day, until the day (In this case) that women and men are truly equal and that feminine traits are not seen to be negative, it is a sexist term.

Because I tire of this endless discussion, I would just like to close this by saying "Go read some Judith Butler."

I find it annoying how some people seem to think this sorta stuff is massively open to discussion by everyone. I do not claim to understand Physics. Its a closed book to me. In comparison to my friend, who is doing a masters in the subject, I know nothing. I will not try and claim that he is wrong since I do not have a fucking clue. I have not read the literature. Yet people are so willing to try and claim a fixed understanding of linguistics and identity without having done the reading. Read some Butler, Lawler, Goffman, Garner, although Garner did lots of work on Race, his stuff on Identity as an 'othering' experience is quite interesting and applies somewhat to the topic of this discussion. (This is not directed specifically at you and I do not mean to be insulting).

Meh. I should get out of this thread. I am starting to sound elitist. I guess my standpoint is 'Either accept that it is a sexist term and just live with it or go and do the reading around the subject and then try and have a discussion on the matter.'

If you are interested I could probably send you a few of the readings. *reads the copyright notice at the start of the Goffman* Actually, I can't. Its being used under licence for my course and although I can retain electronic copies, they must be 'strictly for personal use' and 'no further copying, storage or distribution (including by email) is permitted.'

Not claiming to be an expert (Yet. One can dream) just saying that I am probably ever so slightly more well read on the subject.

FalloutJack:
*Two pages later*

Whelp, Mr. F didn't get a warning for being a deliberate irritant towards me. You know, trying to make a statement about mere words when I don't even get ONE TENTH as annoyed at words over action (such as the internet VS real life) is silly. No, cunt is just a word. Much like F is just a letter. Though, it WAS a devious plot. If his words were really that much impact when he insulted me, the mods would've decked him for it. And if they didn't - which is what happened - then he's proven wrong. I love being me.

The reason I did not get a warning is because I did not insult you. I stated that your ARGUMENT was stupid, not that you were stupid. Smart people make stupid arguments all the time. Look at our politicians. That is why I did not get a warning, not because you are right, not because the mods think I was wrong or anything. Because I did not, and will not, insult you for being wrong.

Interesting note, apparently a lot of what gets flagged up for mods is just stuff that people disagree with.

At no point am I stating that words are worse then actions, or that actions matter less then words. But words are actions, your choice of language reflects who you are. I am not getting, nor is anyone else who is making the same or similar arguments to mine, more annoyed at words then actions. I am, again, simply trying to explain to people why the term is sexist. Because it is sexist, inarguably so.

I would have got moderated if I violated the CoC. Which I did not.

I think it is the same as calling someone a d**khead.
Or calling someone gay.

It just generally points to the concept of the term, and is not an attack on that gender or sexuality

Mr F.:
snip

Of course you wouldn't debate him. Physics is hard-form, language is far more nebulous. Gravity is what it is because it is what it is, and "cunt" is only definitivly offensive if we uniformly decide it is, which we clearly don't. Our choice of words might say something about us, but the flip of that is obviously that our interpretation does the same thing. Judgement feels a little arbitrary.

The problem I have with a literalist view on language and definitions is that I think it assumes that we're all stupid. I think that modern humour is sophisticated in ways that makes a mockery of literalism.

For the sake of clarification, is "prick" a sexist term? Am I being sexist if I call someone a "ball-bag"?

You know there's some areas where strict equality doesn't make sense (men deserve gynecological services if women get them!) and some where strict equality is only logical. This is one of the latter. My view is, "cunt" is no different then the word "dick", it's profanity referring to genitalia. If it's ok to say the word dick in a situation, then it's ok to say cunt. I'm an Equal Opportunity Offender and I'm proud of it!

OhJohnNo:
Not in Britain.

I once participated in a 67-post Facebook discussion about how much of a cunt Jeremy Kyle is. The word came up in basically every post.

Yeah, not exactly a big deal.

Jeremy Kyle IS a fucking massive cunt (he's pretty much always right though).

On topic though. There are some things about political correctness in america that just don't make sense at all to me so i've just put them down to trying to have a better argument than "I don't like it".

In a similar vein to "I don't like gay marriage because it offends my religion" when in reality they just don't like gay marriage because of gay sex and EWW.
"I don't like the C word because its sexist" sounds a lot more meritorious than just saying that its a dirty word that should be hidden.

As someone pointed out earlier its like saying that calling someone a dick or a cock or any of the other 50 different words for penis are sexist against men. I acknowledge that its kind of a false equivalence though because the issue is WHY the word has that weight of negativity in society and calling someone a dick just doesn't. I just wish Germaine Greer had succeeded in her quest to normalise the word cunt as a general euphemism for vagina that could be used as freely as dick.

Either way though, the solution isn't saying it less, its saying it more, to the point where no one cares anymore. I will enjoy how fun the word is until that day comes.

I'm Canadian, I call people cunts all the time, last time I called my buddy a cunt in a joking manner, this chick got up in my face about it, I just calmly asked her if she'd ever called anyone a dick, she was all like "OF COURSE I DO< ALL THE TIME, WHAT'S YOUR POINT!?" and I just said "That's my point, think about it for a minute, then unbunch your panties." she stormed off all angry, personally I don't care what anyone thinks, I rarely see anyone get angry, and it's part of my everyday vocabulary, I'm always calling my male friends/coworkers lazy cunts, stupid cunts, silly cunts, or any other variety of cunt that I believe fits the situation, and it's mainly just me being a silly cunt myself, jokin' around if you will.

Froggy Slayer:
I've seen a lot of people get incredibly offended by the word cunt being used as an insult. Obviously, it's a very strong word, but the people who dislike it that much usually say that it is sexist. Being British, I believe these people to be wrong, but I would like some bloody Yanks to explain to me how sexist it really is over there, for I have heard conflicting reports.

Born and bred in the US of A.

In my humble opinion, "cunt" is not any more sexist than "dick" is, but (1) in America it is a far stronger curse word and (2) it very much can be used in a sexist manner (and often is).

You're all cunts. I don't mean that...

I've seen cunt used as a sexist word but I agree with the majority of posters here; it's as sexist as cock or dick or knob or bell end. Of course, like any word, it can be used in several ways. I've heard it used as a derogatory term for a woman before.

It's just a word, really...

But I find it odd that so many people think those in the UK use it casually. It's on the top of the list of swear words you're not allowed to say on TV, higher than fuck and shit. Swear words in general are used with less fear here, though so maybe that's why people think it's a casual thing. But we're not all "Hey, cunt, what's up? Nothing, taking my little cunt to the cunting shop to cunt cunt the cunt. Been nice cunting with ya."

Mr F.:

Laurents van Cauwenberghe:
no not at all, i've always found the notion of that retarded...
if i say dick or dickhead am i a sexist?
thought so

You are aware that you just used an ablest term to state that you find the idea that a sexist term is sexist to be stupid? The irony is amazing. I assume retard is also totally not offensive?

but cunt is not sexist, tell me, how is it sexist? cunt is used to insult men AND women, i guess it would be sexist if it were used only on men... but it's not.

Froggy Slayer:
I'm not going to mill around. This thread is about the word cunt.

I've seen a lot of people get incredibly offended by the word cunt being used as an insult. Obviously, it's a very strong word, but the people who dislike it that much usually say that it is sexist. Being British, I believe these people to be wrong, but I would like some bloody Yanks to explain to me how sexist it really is over there, for I have heard conflicting reports.

Any people of differing nationalities may also give perspective on how cunt is used in their nation.

I can say that here in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus etc. this word is extremely offensive... Because no one wants to be someone's genitalia. There is no sexist colouring in it. "Dick" is considered as offensive for the same reason.

I went to a uni lecture once, it was about the word cunt :P The lecturer (who is a feminist by the way)said she found the word vagina more offensive, this because in Latin the direct meaning for vagina is literally sheath or scabbard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vagina) pretty much implying a place to withdraw and enter a penis! Where the word cunt just means the female genitalia!

Tbh female genitalia aren't that bad so for me calling someone a cunt is only as bad as calling someone a fucker, cock, dick, etc.

But in Britain I think we're grown up enough to understand that words mean fuck all and only stones and lawsuits break your bones

EDIT: Oh I think it CAN be used as a sexist word just as any word can if you're using the word because of a persons gender, otherwise calling someone a cock would be the second worst insult in the English dictionary.

Personally I prefer the word Custard, a beautiful combination of Cunt and Bastard that always gets your point across..

When you've seen balkan grandmas casually flinging insults like "I'll fuck your mothers cunt"(roughly translated) because they just dropped their shopping bag, single words sort of lose their impact.
Maybe it's just my family, I don't know.

The worst one for me(In Danish, my native language) is "Møgso" or shit-sow, that I reserve for women that are completely and utterly despicable. I have no equivalent word of phrase for men that I would actually use, but "Luderkarl" is something like man-whore and fairly crass. "Horesøn" would have been an apt word, but has lost it's meaning since it's basically being a bastard or a son of a literal whore; Since we don't put as much value in the sanctity of marriage as we used to, it's pointless.

I hope curses go in style again, such as "May cancer and poison drive you to the ground" or "I hope you outlive your wife".
(Feel free to regard the last one as sexist, but the intention is that a man would be crushed by the loss of his wife, assuming that a woman in the same situation would be stronger. )

In comparison, "cunt" doesn't strike me as a powerful word.
Motherfucker is worse for me, but I suppose the overuse of it has made it harmless.

One is a an old word originally used as a noun, not an insult, the other is a dude fucking his mother.

I mean... what else can you say but "Americans". (Love you guys, but you're a bunch of weird fucks when it comes to morality.)

Mr F.:
[blank]

You have gone far too long nose deep in books, you should really just get up and actually learn. A book only highlights things or allows for easy memorization, true learning comes from actual hands on practice (in your case talking to a vast majority of people from different cultures in person).

I don't get how a word is sexist.

It's pretty disgusting, but I'm not convinced it's particularly derogatory to women.

People may use it as such, but the word itself is pretty innocent.

It's sexist in the vague way that you're calling someone a bit of female anatomy and it could be argued that it is just as sexist as calling someone a bit of male anatomy (ie 'dick).

However, the mere fact that 'cunt' is considered a stronger swear word than 'dick' may suggest a degree of sexism if the reason being is that female anatomy is somehow considered a more offensive thing to be called. (This seems likely considering the history of insults like 'you big girl' but that's not definitive proof.) On the other hand, it might be considered stronger simply because it has a harsher sound. Or, maybe it's a matter of usage - 'dick' has been used so much for so long that it no longer has as much shock value.

Some might argue that there is sexism inherent in the history of male confusion/distaste for female genitalia. From olden-day beliefs that women shouldn't enjoy sex to Yahtzee's coined "rancid spam sandwiches", the 'cunt' tends to be viewed in a way that the 'dick' isn't. So, to clarify, 'cunt' isn't sexist but the culture which uses it as a slur might be.

I've never heard of it being a gender-specific swear word, though. :) I call people cunts regardless of their equipment!

Ben Fell:
I went to a uni lecture once, it was about the word cunt :P The lecturer (who is a feminist by the way)said she found the word vagina more offensive, this because in Latin the direct meaning for vagina is literally sheath or scabbard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vagina) pretty much implying a place to withdraw and enter a penis! Where the word cunt just means the female genitalia!

Hah, that's funky. :)

Cunt can be sexist, depending on how you are using it, whether you are directing at a woman, and whether you are insulting her because of her gender. Like the word nigger, it depends a lot on conviction and context.

Sexual Harassment Panda:

Mr F.:
snip

Of course you wouldn't debate him. Physics is hard-form, language is far more nebulous. Gravity is what it is because it is what it is, and "cunt" is only definitivly offensive if we uniformly decide it is, which we clearly don't. Our choice of words might say something about us, but the flip of that is obviously that our interpretation does the same thing. Judgement feels a little arbitrary.

The problem I have with a literalist view on language and definitions is that I think it assumes that we're all stupid. I think that modern humour is sophisticated in ways that makes a mockery of literalism.

For the sake of clarification, is "prick" a sexist term? Am I being sexist if I call someone a "ball-bag"?

Given what he said, if I had to guess, he'd claim it's different, especially since he said he was tired of arguing and to go read some Judith Butler. In essence, I suspect the argument would be able to be summarized as "It's different because patriarchy."

You know because epithets referring to penises, male masturbation, or semen in an inherently derogatory light aren't sexist because they don't upset the designated victim class.

I do have one question for Mr. F though -- do you ascribe to the idea that a word being used in a single sexist/racist/homophobic/ableist/whatever definition permanently taints the word?

A great example of this is "fag" -- it's literally meant everything from "sticks" to "stick-picker" to "burden" to "burdensome woman" to "homosexual", out of every epithet it's certainly covered the broadest spread of intended meanings while holding on to the general concept of "something bad". So, does the fact that it's been used to refer to homosexuals permanently make the word homophobic?

FalloutJack:
Whelp, Mr. F didn't get a warning for being a deliberate irritant towards me.

I didn't see anything he wrote that I'd expect mod wrath from. It's *really* not hard to stay inside the lines as far as things mods will warn you for. To the point that it amazes me when people do -- if you just keep your head it's not difficult at all.

Lord Kloo:

Personally I prefer the word Custard, a beautiful combination of Cunt and Bastard that always gets your point across..

Um...err...I'm pretty sure it doesn't. In large part because it's also a tasty sweet made from eggs and cream.

Schadrach:
Snip

I felt differently. Or rather, I felt that if an obtuse person wanted words to be such a great sting, that his own words should condemn him, or not. Frankly, if it was instigating enough, then he'd suffer for it. And if not, he's wrong. A practical demonstration of my statement. Hell, you not finding him particularly offensive even doubles the proof when you think about it. So, we're in agreement then? Cunt isn't sexist and words only scratch the surface of the human psyche?

Earlier today I learned there is an actual game called 'the C-word'. From the few seconds of footage I saw (it was a documentary about several other Indie games) it was about a disembodied penis trying to come on a c-word covered in blood. As in 'dear-lord-she's-gonna-die' levels of blood.

I say this because I thought this was the game the thread was talking about (despite having posted here before) and I just want to say in response to both questions: no, the c-word is not sexist. It's just GROSS as fuck.

(and if you're honestly worried about being sexist towards someone you probably don't hate them enough to use the word anyway)

It's about as offensive as calling someone dick. It isn't sexist in any fashion.

Ahri:
I don't get how a word is sexist.

It's pretty disgusting, but I'm not convinced it's particularly derogatory to women.

People may use it as such, but the word itself is pretty innocent.

Similar to how a word can be racist, really.

Though I think the chief difference is that society has had enough time to reflect on words like nigger or coon, so it can properly appreciate that they are racist words you shouldn't use. Meanwhile, cunt and bitch are still going through that stage in which much of the populace are still using them and think they are acceptable. I imagine that will eventually change, so it might be worth avoiding them whilst you are ahead.

Froggy Slayer:
I'm not going to mill around. This thread is about the word cunt.

I've seen a lot of people get incredibly offended by the word cunt being used as an insult. Obviously, it's a very strong word, but the people who dislike it that much usually say that it is sexist. Being British, I believe these people to be wrong, but I would like some bloody Yanks to explain to me how sexist it really is over there, for I have heard conflicting reports.

Any people of differing nationalities may also give perspective on how cunt is used in their nation.

it isnt really so much sexiest, as much as it is just overall foul.

You have the right to say it, but i reserve the right to wash your mouth out with soap.

No. Using vulgar words for genitalia to insult someone isn't necessarily sexist. They're just crude insults. It's the meaning behind it's use that can potentially earn that connotation.

Something like the "N-word" is much different as it's roots and whole purpose is to oppress Black people. Same goes for other racist remarks.

"Cunt" is just something you say to someone when they're being...a cunt. It just happens to be used more often on Women; just like how "Dick" is used more often on men. But fuck it, I call dudes cunts all the time.

Not in Australia. The country where everyone is a cunt. We have them all: dumb cunts, stupid cunts, ugly cunts, smart cunts, foreign cunts, fucked cunts, sick cunts, mad cunts, cool cunts, clever cunts, hot cunts, and the rest.

So in the gist of things, we love the word 'cunt' and maybe just maybe it's slowly replacing the word 'mate'. I hope not because I love calling people 'mate'.

Well...My perspective on it is sort of an amalgam of ideas I've been presented with over the years.

Refer to these videos for my feeling on the matter:

and primarily

Cunt
Vagina
asshole
scumbag

Please someone explain explain to me why one of those words is sexist but those other words that mean the same thing aren't.

Not really.

If someone's a cunt, then their gender shouldn't really come into play. If they're a cunt, then they're a cunt.

Are you using it to disciminate?

If no, then no.

Short answer is nope.
A word is not sexist. How you use it is a diffrent matter.

In an American context yes the word cunt is a sexist slang. Its a term meant to shame a women for her genital at least that's my understanding of the term.

Having said that as an American I call my younger brother a filthy cunt all the time.

Father Time:
Cunt
Vagina
asshole
scumbag

Please someone explain explain to me why one of those words is sexist but those other words that mean the same thing aren't.

Those four words don't all mean the same thing.

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