Monday, May 4, 2009

When did the word cunt become so acceptable?

It might sound like an odd question for me, of all people, to ask but really when DID liberal use of the word "cunt" become so acceptable? Five years ago I don't think it had ever passed my lips. These days every third word begins with a c and rhymes with... um... bunt?

I ask this now, not because I am disturbed by my own foul mouth but because I've just finished reading The Time Traveller's Wife. I've been putting off reading this book for just about as long as it's been in existence for the obvious reason that it has Book Club written all over it. Sure, I'm a terrible snob but there is something about Blook Club Books of The Kite Runner/The Lovely Bones/any Jodi Picoult novel ever written that fill me with a quiet despair. They have issues! They provoke discussion! They make me want to drill a hole in the heads of my enemies and friends!

However, this weekend I found myself with a lazy Sunday, I was on the hunt for a book and I picked this one up. This post isn't intended to be a book review but I was impressed by how engaging it was, even if I did think the prose was pretty av and it could have lost 50 pages with no tears shed. Still it did keep me turning the pages, which is kind of the point, I guess.

But the thing that stood out was the use of the c-bomb. Twenty pages in it was all "his tongue on her cunt" this and "his cock inside her" that. Ooh er. I practically clutched my pearls. I mean I know scads of middle-aged women who have loved and recommended this book, including my boyfriend's mother, who loaned me her copy. I would never in a million years think of using the c-word in front of her yet here it was: proof she presumably didn't have a problem with it. That it was no longer enough to raise an eyebrow let alone provoke a tch tch.

While this is all well and good for the foul mouthed among us, the problem is that when best-selling middle-of-the-road novels start to throw "cunt" and "cock" around witch such incredible enthusiasm where are the rest of us to go? Do we revert back to "penis" and "vagina" as cutting edge insults? Scream "you fucking labia!!" out the window at the dicksnap who just cut us off?

I'm genuinely not quite sure. One day, I suspect, words like cunt and cock and fuck will become as bereft of all impact as the words golly, gosh and crumbs! do now. Will this be the high point or the low point of our civilisation? I don't know: what do you vaginas think?


mike g said...

"I practically clutched my pearls."

I love that one.

my name is kate said...

I swear to you: smelling salts were very nearly required.

Dave said...

I love that word.

the other kate said...

not ok to drop the c-bomb in front of your boyfriend's mum, but in front of your boyfriend's mum's mum is a different matter......