The other night I was accused of being the Impact contributor with the most cunts. This can’t have been a reference to my prowess with women. In fact the point was that some of my more enthusiastic articles occasionally go off into the forest of hyperbole and wind up looking like I have gone out of my way to crowbar in ‘the most offensive word in the English language’.

I can only plead guilty. There have been numerous instances where only a well-placed cunt can give vent to whatever gripe I am indulging in. And, unlike one of my predecessors, I don’t have a policy of editing out the said cunts when reading them in the work of others. So am I an unstoppable cretin? Should I be made to put down my pen? If the answer is yes then it’s not because of my high cunt-count.

I’m sorry but I am going to have to justify myself on this one. The most offensive word in the English language? Why? A friend recently suggested that it was offensive because it made an insult out of vaginas and that was unacceptable. I don’t hold with this explanation (nobody strongly objects to being called a fanny and even the closest of my friends call me a dick or cock) but it is certainly interesting.

I don’t know why it is such an offensive word. Boringly I would guess that it’s almost 100% convention. Each expletive we use has evolved its rudeness and your mum probably used many of those historically thought obscene when you last phoned home. Far more offensive is the use of the word ‘gay’ in its latest incarnation. I don’t mean it’s offensive to be called gay. I mean it is offensive to hijack an entire sexual orientation and use it as a put down. I don’t think Chris Moyles would be likely to put in an appearance on tomorrow’s Radio if he had called someone a cunt (for the record I think he is one). However the BBC will happily laugh off his use of ‘gay’ because it means the ignorant thug is somehow with-it and up on how the youth of today talk. Well kids also smoke fags they have found on the floor and shag each other round the bag of bus shelters but you wouldn’t catch Moyles doing any of those…OK bad example.

I can already hear the self-righteous retorts about the tyranny of Political Correctness but they are categorically wrong. I don’t see the same bunch standing up for my right to call someone a cunt and yet in doing so I don’t contribute to anything like the same insipid shift in shared meaning as those who turn ‘gay’ into an insult. We all slip into saying something is gay when we mean it is bad but each time we do so we entrench this foul idea that there is somehow something untoward or unpleasant about homosexuality. There is one way to stop this and that is to make it clear that to bandy round ‘gay’ as an insult is inappropriate and cruel. This is not thought control or sinister Orwellian restriction. It is a call for more measured and compassionate use of language. That doesn’t mean we can’t have fun, it just means not at the expense of large sections of the community. Got that you cunts?

Previous post

Silly Moo

Next post

State of the Union

2 Comments

  1. mzendle
    June 19, 2006 at 13:56 — Reply

    Honestly? I’ve never, ever said something was ‘gay’ when I meant it was bad. I have always hated it when people do this and will mention its negative connotations when friends of mine use it. My housemate has been using it for years and it spills out of her mouth far too much. However, she knows I hate it, as do many of my friends, and they don’t say it around me, or apologise when they do. I’m not gay myself, but I totally agree with you that it’s not a good thing to give homosexuality any negative connotations. There’s enough racism, sexism and homophobia extant in the world as is.

  2. andrewgibson
    June 20, 2006 at 05:05 — Reply

    It’s a bit like when someone calls me a ‘faggot’ when really they mean an ‘arsehole’, I suppose. A new insult I’ve heard recently (in female-female discourse) is ‘bum tits’, which makes me laugh as often tits are like bums, and vice-versa. Another classic was my ex-girlfriend using the expression ‘cum-bucket’. Crude yet amusing. (see also ‘cum-rag’) Another girl I knew who had had unprotected sexual relations, without post-coition contraception, was accused of being a ‘sperm bank’. A great analogy. This all has nothing to do with anything, but I cannot sleep and am enjoying saying naughty words.
    Good work on the Cunt front. It should be used more often, as should ‘wank stain’. I agree with you that its offensiveness is largely to do with convention, but moot the idea that it is also (only partially) to do with the sound. I think the distaste for the words ‘vulva’ and ‘vagina’, for example, are largely phonetic and have thus relegated the words to medical/classroom/specific usage. They are not deemed ‘offensive’ but are not used in general conversation. In fact I cannot think of a word for the vagina which is happily used by the majority of people. This leads me to tentatively suggest a third reason for the cunt/vagina/gay dilemna. Take excrement for example. There is no commonly used, pleasant word for shit (see ‘crap’, ‘crimp off a log’, ‘turd’ etc.) The only non swear word is ‘poo’, but this still causes laughter and it is inappropriate to say ‘poo’ to someone you dont know very well. Most ‘poo’ users say it with tongue in cheek. I suggest the reason there is no decent, polite word for ‘turd’ is because turds are not decent or polite. Each shit-word is attatched to a mental image of crap, which is unpleasant. Objectively there is nothing decent or polite about vaginas or cunts. Sometimes we are instinctively compelled towards them, but we are also dirty animals. For this reason, it is ok to use the phrase in a derogatory manner for a nasty person, as often cunts are nasty, smelly, often quite ugly things. I think that the much bandied term ‘gay’ should be used as an insult, as ‘fuck’ (which is the domain of both straight and gay people) is also used for a bad person, as is ‘wank’ of a crap situation. These all refer to our bestial natures and either way there is little that can be done to control the language use of the majority of the population, especially when it comes to slang. These things evolve naturally.
    If I were to prescribe language use however, I think the more offensive the better. I even condone using the wrong racial slurs against people. Eg. Calling a Englishman a Spic, or calling a black woman a Muzzer. Then again I’m probably not the best one to advise on the topic, as I’m only in it for a laugh. And when I say ‘it’, I mean life.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.