The "c" word, like "queer" and the "n" word, has been reclaimed - not once, but twice. And no one told me.
My intermittent use of this word is a source of secret shame, since I've often felt it makes me a bad feminist. I don't pull it out in polite company, use it to describe women, or even use it to name a body part, for that matter. I do, however, use it to describe objectionable men, and even shout it at the telly from time to time (although less so since George W relinquished the presidency.*).
Having said all that, the way the word is used in the US - exclusively to denigrate women and women's sexuality, as far as I can see - makes me cringe. My Irish sister-in-law was horrified to hear the "c" word so frequently when she first came to NZ, so vile is it in her homeland. Since then, though, she's told me that she's actually grown to rather like it. Nothing expresses her admiration for someone these days like calling them a 'f*@!ing good c#nt, eh".
The Salon article I linked to above asks that age-old question, why is it so much worse to call someone a c#nt than a dick? (In my vocab, a dick is a slightly comical loser, and a c#nt is someone unpleasant - a bit of a hierarchy, I guess).
Salon answers its own question:
In a larger sense, "c#nt" does not equal "dick" in our culture because "woman" still does not equal "man." This is also why "nigger" remains more offensive than "cracker." And as long as women are the second sex and African-Americans are the second race, slurs that target these groups will have greater power.
What do you think, THMers? Should the "c" word be reclaimed and celebrated as an anatomical term, tolerated as an insult, or consigned to the linguistic dustbin?
* Which reminds me of a pink placard I once saw on an anti-war protest: 'The only Bush I trust is my own'.