I have some apologizing to do. It is true. I used the word ‘cunt’ rather randomly to refer to a man who I believe to be cranky and petty on the internets. Now before anyone starts to sling arrows at my misfortunate choice of pejoratives, let me say that I fully understand the history and volatility associated with this ‘term’. Only in a culture which underappreciates the feminine and institutionally oppresses its females (not to mention all the gender blends in between) in favor of males is such a word deployed. Does this word evince an underlying hatred or resentment for women percolating under the course skin of Western society? Perhaps. Quite simply and without qualification I apologize for using such a word. The word is disgusting and nothing good can from its use.
Yet, despite accusations to the contrary, I do not believe that I am misogynist in any stable sense of the term. I was raised by a single mother who I witnessed first-hand struggle with discrimination, and I am raising two daughters of my own – one of which already self-identifies as a feminist – both of which I often coach on dealing with patriarchy directly. I fully support women's rights and follow the their lead in all things having to do with improving their lot in all cultures. I certainly hold no ill-will against women, nor do I hate vaginas generally speaking. So then why did I use the word? What was my reasoning? In retrospect I think it was quite simply an absence of reasoning. I chose that word for its vulgarity and impact without the sensitivity to historical-cultural context I would normally want to cultivate and advocate. In short, i wasn’t thinking. I was purposely being aggressive and offensive (an “asshat” as my intended target so astutely observed).
Now all this leads me to reflect on two things: 1) like any other human on this planet I am capable of stupid behavior and expressions socially gleaned, and 2) just how much words are artifacts that can and do get used in ways not originally intended for via misappropriated denotation. Words and concepts get deployed and redeployed in various ways and for various purposes creating alternative contexts of utterance and reference. There are no stable assoications. Hence the type of ‘random mutation’ we witness with all languages. Mutant sentences as speech-acts and sequential strings of words and associative meanings can and do arise. Pace Derrida.
When I called the person a "cunt" my intention was to point out this person’s (self-admitted) tendency towards rudeness, pettiness and condescension, completely unrelated to its association with the female body. This much should have been obvious as the person in question is male. By choosing such a vulgar and alarming word I meant to covey an intense distaste for the manner in which this person tends to communicate. Regardless, using that word in such a manner failed to deliver any intention I may have had. What I meant was not what I said.
So my question is this: if my intention was not to attack any particular female (or females in general), but to simply signify strongly my aversion, should such intentions excuse or at least explain this unfortunate choice of words? Or is my word choice so inappropriate and culturally toxic that intention matters little? Let me know what YOU think dear readers...
My original statement is included below.