November 20, 2000 8:56 AM   Subscribe

CAUTION: VERY NAUGHTY WORD AHEAD (Via Obscure Store) You can't say I didn't warn you. This is perhaps the funniest "news" story I've read all year. I have to believe the (female) reporter was cackling madly as she wrote it.
posted by Skot (28 comments total)
Wow. Will it be broadcast via net? Hmm, I got to get my adultpass id thing for this. Man ohh man, why fest? If anything, it makes it more dirty.
posted by tiaka at 9:10 AM on November 20, 2000

It is a disgusting word. Regardless of their intent, it's an abomination... I'm just glad I don't have to drive past the banner.
posted by silusGROK at 9:47 AM on November 20, 2000

Shouldn't this have been held at Arcadia University?
posted by geronimo_rex at 9:52 AM on November 20, 2000

What a cool word, man! Viva Cunt!

I'll use it in support of the feminist cause.
posted by snakey at 10:06 AM on November 20, 2000

Well, you know, my take on this topic (and thanks for bringing it up) is that it's somewhat similar to the whole fracas about "Redskins" and "Braves", only different.

That is to say: there's an argument about it because one group of people is saying something entirely different than the other group is hearing.

The reason people don't like "the C-word" is not because the word itself is offensive, it's because it reduces the person being called that to a piece of the anatomy.

But, in that, it's no different than calling a guy a prick, and lots of women -- I'd bet some who are aghast at the idea of a woman being called a cunt -- do that, every day.

The analogy to the Indian names comes from the fact that the people who object are objecting to the wrong thing -- at least, IMHO. This time, though, it's in the other direction.

As far as I've always been able to figure it out, those team names are *tributes* to the warrior spirit of the tribes; this is a *bad* thing? Can someone explain that whole thing to me -- someone who's willing to *listen* to the counter argument, that is?
posted by baylink at 10:16 AM on November 20, 2000

The more a word is used, the less power it has to offend. I mean, is anyone out there really offended by the word "fuck" anymore? (Well, maybe born-again Christians. But that's about it.)

In a couple decades, they'll be saying "fuck" and "shit" on basic cable, just as they say "ass" and "damn" now. Maybe the adoption of a V-Chip would accelerate the process.
posted by waxpancake at 10:20 AM on November 20, 2000

Baylink, I'm with you. Ethnically, I'm a Viking. I believe it would be smarter of Native Americans to co-opt the symbols instead of just taking them away.

Then again, Vikings didn't have quasi-religious ritual dances perverted for end-zone antics. *shrug*

Cuntfest? Gawd, "an abomination"??? Did we turn the corner to the 19th century instead of the 21st and I didn't notice? The point is to retake the term from the demeaning usage and make it positive. It's a little strong, and maybe even outdated in this postfeminist Charlie's Angels world, but hey ...
posted by dhartung at 10:29 AM on November 20, 2000

Using abomination for this is like using the word tragedy every time your local softball team loses a game.

It's becoming harder and harder to really underscore a point these days with everyone spouting things like "my eyes literally popped out of my head" and "that banner is an abomination and a tragedy".
posted by jragon at 10:51 AM on November 20, 2000

I still don't understand why "co-opting the symbol" was never tried in South Carolina by the NAACP.

Well, actually, I do understand - they'd lose a symbol to rally against.
posted by mikewas at 11:08 AM on November 20, 2000

The biggest problem with the article is that Muscio's etymology for the word is dubious. I can find no source, even unreliable, that says "cunt stems from words that were either titles of respect for women, priestesses and witches, or derivatives of goddesses' names."

Here is what looks like a competent and thorough investigation of the word's etymology. The key here is: there is no provable origin of the word. Muscio's scholarship is fanciful and self-serving.

You can hear the word pronounced at (along with a pathetic and bogus etymology).

The etymology for vagina is correct, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:00 PM on November 20, 2000

In "The Canterbury Tales", the wife of Bath, who could be described as a proto-feminist, uses the word "queint" a few times.
posted by kidsplateusa at 12:18 PM on November 20, 2000

mikewas: I don't think the NAACP is interested in rallying against the Confederate flag as a symbol, simply flying it (rhetorically) out of some cynical desire to attract pity and funding. It's still way too loaded and charged with historical weight -- arguably not just among blacks -- to blithely appropriate and attempt to "flip the script." (The only vague instance I can recall of an act like this might be a line of clothing that briefly advertised in Vibe magazine: their designs were pretty much anonymous, except for their insignia and a few T-shirts which cloned the Confederate flag but in the African-American nationalist colors of red, black and green -- visually arresting but ugly, to be frank.)

I can't look at the thing without thinking about the first folks to treat it as a symbol and rallying point: White South Carolinians put the flag up in 1962 as a backhanded gesture at the nation's slowly shifting positions on segregation and equal accommodation of blacks and whites.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 12:24 PM on November 20, 2000

re: native american objections to team names vs "cuntfest"

there is a big difference between a group "reclaiming" a word (the c-word, the n-word, etc) and a ruling group using such a word to either demean the group to which it refers, or to "honor" said group.

in other words, I can (if I decide) use the word "cunt" (I hate the word: it's been used too many times to hurt me) and it can be seen as respectful.

I can *never* use the n-word--it's been used by too many white people to hurt black people, and as a result of their actions I've lost my right to the word forever, IMO. however, my african american brothers and sisters can do so with impunity.

I *can* probably use the word "queer" if I feel like it (at least in seattle or san francisco, although possibly not in the midwest), because the gay community (here) has done a splendid job of embracing it, using it, and removing any power it has had to hurt.

I see this as a similar attempt to remove the sting from the c-word.

ultimately, individuals get to decide what feels respectful to them. honestly, if you asked me never to refer to you as "you big duff" because that term was used to hurt you at some time in your life, I'd be unkind to insist on the term no matter how inoffensive it seemed to me.

people who insist on using terms that hurt others "because it's their right to express themselves" or because "they don't find the term offensive" or whatnot, are crass bullies , IMO.


posted by rebeccablood at 12:31 PM on November 20, 2000


Aren't they a spin-off from HP or Lucent?

F'd Company, indeed.
posted by ethmar at 12:38 PM on November 20, 2000

ultimately, individuals get to decide what feels respectful to them. honestly, if you asked me never to refer to you as "you big duff" because that term was used to hurt you at some time in your life, I'd be unkind to insist on the term no matter how inoffensive it seemed to me.

I don't have a problem with that... but as George Carlin has put it, when I refer to a group of people I will use whatever terms seem to me to be reasonable and fair to refer to them. If some specific member of that group is offended by those terms, *and I'm talking to that person*, I won't use those terms.

But, to take "Indian" as an example, I invite anyone to provide me with references as to whom it is, precisely, that is offended by that term. Carlin outright says -- and I assume he wouldn't put it in writing just to be perverse -- that in fact American Indians would, by and large, prefer that term to 'Native American', which he characterized (in his book, Brain Droppings) as "an inventory term" applied by the government to groups as widely spread out as Asian and Pacific territorial natives (Guam, Marianas, etc)...

I am not personally a member of that group, so I don't have an opinion, and I don't know any personally, so I inquire. I do know some black people, though, and their opinions bear out his other assertion: he calls black people 'black people' because that's what most of them prefer to be called.
posted by baylink at 1:07 PM on November 20, 2000

"Baylink, I'm with you."

Damn, but that's a delightfully euphonious sentence. :-)
posted by baylink at 1:28 PM on November 20, 2000

If this keeps up, what will we be able to say when we slam our hands in our car doors?
When my dad was a kid, "butt" was a Bad Word(tm) & now they say it on sat. morning cartoons. Hopefully, new swears will spring up. ("Trick" has my vote.)
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:44 PM on November 20, 2000

If this keeps up, what will we be able to say when we slam our hands in our car doors?
I suggest "Help! I've slammed my hand in a car door!"
posted by thirteen at 1:50 PM on November 20, 2000

I dunno, it lacks something. Panache, mebbe.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:52 PM on November 20, 2000

We can always hope that within another week or so, the word "chad" is deemed too obscene for broadcast television. Of course, I wouldn't mind as much if I could find a way to work the word's etymology into a conversation.
posted by harmful at 1:59 PM on November 20, 2000

Washington Redskins is as offensive as Washington Niggers would be. "Redskin", unlike "brave", cannot be understood as anything but an epithet. "Braves", which would appear to be an honorific, is actually an unfortunate essentialization of the popular stereotype of the American Indian. The problem with paying tribute to the "warrior spirit" of American Indians is that it's a false notion. Certainly some tribes engaged in warfare, but American Indians were/are not culturally homogenous to any degree.

Equally problematic (or perhaps moreso, if you refuse to recognize the racism of the team names) are the disrespectful displays put on by fans of such teams in which they appropriate sacred elements of native cultures to cheer on the athletes.

Perhaps a more fearsome mascot for a sports team would be the "European", who conquered a continent, employing brute force and ruthless treachery in the genocide of millions of people.

posted by sudama at 2:00 PM on November 20, 2000

I was flipping through a collection of slang and caught this phrase:

"Go shit in a hat" (opt. "...put it on your head and call it flowers.")
which is from the 1920's in the US. It's a wonderfully colorful phrase, but certainly not polite anytime soon.
posted by plinth at 2:03 PM on November 20, 2000

Mo Nickels:
I can find no source, even unreliable, that says "cunt stems from words that were either titles of respect for women, priestesses and witches, or derivatives of goddesses' names."

Your own "competent and thorough" link provided some evidence to this effect. I quote:

"Barbara Walker cites the Indian ‘kundas’, "[descendants] of the Goddess Kunda [or ‘Cunti’]" (ibid.), and Terence Meaden (1992:33) suggests that legal suppression of ‘cunt’ is related to a desire to suppress the worship of such pagan idols and represents "a series of vicious witch hunts encouraged by an evil establishment wishing to suppress what amounted to apparent signs of Goddess beliefs". "

I think the derivation from the Greek is probably more likely, but don't be so dismissive without checking your own sources.
posted by Annabel.Gill at 4:18 PM on November 20, 2000

I'm sorry, but sports teams named after ethnic groups are an American tradition!

My family and I've always been fans of them 'Fightin Jews'. I also follow the Yellowskins, even though they don't have a chinaman's chance this season.
posted by snakey at 4:41 PM on November 20, 2000

Here's an article on the derivation of the word. And here are some beautiful cunt items for you.
Did I get the sense that the original poster thought the news story was a hoax?
posted by davidgentle at 6:50 PM on November 20, 2000

Oh, I never thought for a moment it was a hoax (one of the people mentioned in the article--Inga Muscio--used to write for a Seattle weekly, so the name was immediately familiar). I just thought it was very funny (thoughtful comments posted here aside), and felt that the author was likely having a grand old time as she typed out some of the quotations, such as the last one in the story. I had to breathe into a paper sack for a while after reading that.
posted by Skot at 8:44 AM on November 21, 2000

Oh, ghod; Sudama and "nigger" in the same thread. Isn't this a corollary to Godwin's Law? :-)

Anyone want to speculate on why I'm not offended by "honky"?
posted by baylink at 2:08 PM on November 21, 2000

I was just trying to give you an idea of what's wrong with those names, baylink.
posted by sudama at 7:38 PM on November 21, 2000

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