A friend of mine used to draw cartoons for Penthouse. One of the highlights of the day was in the morning, when the latest readers’ confessions arrived, for putting in the “Penthouse Forum” section.
Despite rumours to the contrary, the Penthouse staff never made these letters up. There was no shortage of actual readers’ contributions.
They did tend to look as if the same person had written many of them, but that was because the letter writers used to copy each other. Key phrases would recur, like “Not to be outdone, I…“, “‘Let me take care of that for you,’ she said” and “One thing soon led to another, and …” as if they were the official house style.
Anyway, the morning would start with the editor standing up and bellowing the latest letters aloud, with occasional editorial comments, and heckling from the floor.
The letters were in four main categories:
- fantasies written by virgins
- fantasies written by people who weren’t quite virgins but had had their eyes tightly closed during any sexual contact they’d ever had
- fantasies or possible actual experiences written by people who had probably had sex and knew what genitals looked and felt like, but were the worst writers on earth
- actual, credible, genuinely hot letters
My friend told me some of the best phrases from the winning entries, but I’ve forgotten most of them. However, the unchallenged winner in the third category was the guy who wrote “She gasped with joy when I put my pork sword in her love tunnel.”
When I write in my own persona, I use only the words “cock” and “cunt”.
I like the word “cock” because (just a country boy, me) it’s based on the genuine resemblance between the bobbing of an erection and the strutting walk of a farmyard cock.
Might be worth taking a pause at this point, to listen to Howling Wolf’s version of “Little Red Rooster”. (It used to annoy him that the Stones got the key changes wrong in their version. Taught Keith Richards how to play it properly when he was in London in 1971, if you’ll excuse some Howling Wolf nerdery.)
Also, cock is a thicker word than its main rival, “dick”.
And “cunt” is simply the only word I know for “cunt”. It’s the correct English word, older than the language, even. It has no derogatory connotations, and it’s not a euphemism, as though cunt were a bad thing, that needed to be referred to in Latin or with a cutesy word like “pussy”.
The misogynist habit using using the word to mean “a bad, despicable person” is actually relatively recent, and I’m holding out hope that it will eventually go away, leaving “cunt” to its original meaning.
That’s why the headmaster in the “Jennifer’s pleats and pleas” story, who would be a bad, despicable person if he were real and operating in a world with any resemblance to reality, is a man who says “pussy”. Somehow, the idea that a cunt needs to be made “pretty” by giving it a name like “pussy” seems disrespectful.
It’s why I’m not surprised that when he was boasting about sexual assault, the guy who lost the popular vote in the recent US election used the word “pussy”. There’s something belittling about the word, something that tries to divest the cunt of its power. That power frightens some men. As demonstrated by the history of religion, among other things.
Any thoughts on cunt vs pussy?
I disagree – I think for most people, “cunt” is more burdened with negative connotations than its synonyms.
Its use to mean a despicable person, and especially a despicable woman, is likely a major source of those connotations. I find cunt-as-insult to be highly offensive: I refuse to use the word in this way, and I utterly reject those connotations.
I find cunt-as-anatomy, on the other hand, to be quite acceptable. Although I used to be rather squeamish about it in the past because of the connotations, it’s actually my preferred word for the part now. Well, in my writing. In conversation, I’d likely be more cautious with it because so many people do still find it highly vulgar.
The other day, I used “cunt” in an email to a friend who I consider enlightened: I was telling him about the sheela-na-gig and how she “shows her cunt and scares off the devil”. His reply seemed to be blushing as he commented on my use of such a vulgar word. I wasn’t trying to make a point and I’d honestly forgotten its vulgarity. It’s just the word I use.
Yes, the vulva frightens some men. But what scares the devil is its magic – the source of life, l’origine du monde.
I have never liked the word “pussy” nor have I used it.
I despise the euphemisms that suggest that the speaker is embarrassed to have the part in question. I won’t even repeat them, they piss me off that much. Ironically, those are the words you’re more likely hear or read in an all-ages environment.
I’m not sure we disagree much. I meant denotations, with “cunt”, and “connotations” was careless. I meant that in its original form and in its etymology it seems that cunt is a word that expresses no disrespect for women or their genitals.
Unlike all the alternatives I know of. (I’m counting euphemisms like “pussy” and “flower” as misogynist because they stem from the idea that female genitals are bad. You don’t use euphemisms for things you approve of.)
It’s true that in the 20th century people started to use “cunt” to mean “bad or despicable person”. Which helped it to its place in the OED as more offensive than any other word.
I suppose that in using it only to refer to genitals, somewhere between enthusiastic to neutral, and never using it in any negative sense, I’m partly trying to encourage others to do the same. It’s a small act of linguistic activism. But campaigns like that have worked in the past, like the re-claiming of “queer” from slur to celebration.
And I love the painting, “L’origine du Monde”.
The question of why so many men and some women hate and fear cunts has got to be a topic for another post.