Perhaps the last word to retain any degree of real scandal
when used in `polite company', `cunt,' traditionally a derogatory term for a vagina, is a real dirty word. What is most powerful about it is that it has not lost it's effect as a incantory transformer - to call someone a cunt is to mutate the subject into one. It is, in the true sense, a naming word in the way that `fuck' is not.

Cunt is a historical word that originally sprang from the evocation of a cave, the `cunta' which conotated wisdom. The word starts to get it's current usage in the 17th and 18th centuries. Several poems are extant from this time which show it's clear use as a modifier rather than a namer, part of the possible series of usages that cascade from vagina, and specifically used in relation to a vagina that is sexually aroused. That this becomes a derogatory word from here can only be attributed to a deep masculine horror.

`Cunt" (1879 Anon. First 4 lines)

"Cunt is a greedy, unsatisfied glutton,
All women are ready to yield up their mutton;
Finger them, fuck them, and do as you please
They have such an itching you never can tease."


When will cunt find it's bracket of common usage in that way that `bitch' has?  Maybe when post-feminism pushes further out into bad girl territory, and it can be used as a word which adheres to the process of identity creation, like current usage of `bitch' and `slut', rather than being derogatory.

It is this process of rearticulation that is more important to this essay as a whole, the way a word, or self, slides around through it's definition and usages...

Interestingly, cunt is a much easier word to use in Australia than in New Zealand. Are Aussies more `advanced'?

Words; slippage and rearticulation of their meanings...