There was an article recently about an uproar in Colorado somewhere, because a professor expressed some unpopular opinions on the word “cunt.” Elizabeth Hoffman, president of the University of Colorado and a “medieval scholar,” said that yes, cunt is a swear word, but has much tamer and even affectionate roots. Says she: “I’ve actually heard it used as a term of endearment.”
Cunt is used, for instance, by Chaucer:
And privily he caught her by the queint,
And said; “Y-wis, but if I have my will,
For derne love of thee, leman, I spill.”
And helde her fast by the haunche bones,
And saide “Leman, love me well at once,
Or I will dien, all so God me save.”
And another passage:
What aileth you to grudge thus and groan?
Is it for ye would have my queint alone?
Why, take it all: lo, have it every deal,
Peter! shrew you but ye love it well
For if I woulde sell my belle chose,
I coulde walk as fresh as is a rose,
But I will keep it for your owen tooth.
But, of course, the local Up In Arms Association freaked. “Blah dee blah! How dare she demean all women everywhere by suggesting that there is any way to use the c-word other than as a tool of the sexist patriarchy!” Okay, I’m paraphrasing. The actual quote is :
The comment drew the ire of Regina Cowles, president of the Boulder National Organization of Women, who called Hoffman’s response outrageous and not acceptable.
She said Hoffman’s defense of the word, “doesn’t even pass the red-face test.”
“It is so clear what that word is about,” she told the Boulder Daily Camera. “It’s used to dehumanize a woman, and strip her of her decency.”
Yeah. Whatever the hell a “red-face test” is. The school is being sued for failing to protect some girls who were allegedly sexually assaulted by some stupid jocks and the prospective freshmen they were recruiting, you see. So the people on the victims’ side are using everything they can to demonize the school. If they can make a reasonable case of saying that the university president is insensitive to the plight of these poor mistreated girls then it helps their lawsuit.
Yeah, okay, if the football players assaulted some girls then fine, punish them. And if the school turned a blind eye to their “antics” then punish them as well. But don’t use your ignorance of the english language as a bludgeon to try to beat anyone you can. As near as I can tell this Hoffman chick wasn’t defending the actions of the alleged perps, nor was she saying the alleged victims had done anything wrong. She simply “would not say in a sworn deposition whether she considered a certain slur against women ‘vile'”. She said that although “cunt” is a swear word, the actual meaning of it depends on context.
Some different ways of using “cunt”:
- “That Hoffman woman is such a cunt.”
Okay, using the word this way could be considered demeaning to women. I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t argue if someone else said so. I get the impression (couldn’t find the details) that the issue is that someone called the alleged victims cunts or something like that.
- “That Hoffman woman has a sweet cunt.”
This is just talking dirty. This could be demeaning, or it could be sincere admiration/desire/whatever. Or it could be part of sexual play. All depends on context.
- “I’ve been trying to print to this printer for an hour, but the cunt just won’t co-operate.”
Nothing to do with women. Get over yourself.
What is your opinion on the “c-word”? Post a comment, or blog about it and post a link.