Last night I went to The Coffee Shop in Riverton for open mic night. It was an awesome line-up and everyone had so much fun that when the shop closed we all migrated to one of the employee's houses for an after-party. As we all sat around chatting and getting to know each other one of the musicians made a comment about how he had considered calling his solo album "I'm a little bit Cunt-ry." A brief discussion about the reasons this was not a good idea followed. Another musician said,
"It's funny, but women get really offended about the use of the word cunt. We really do need to be sensitive about that."
I was the only woman in the room so, of course, I felt like I needed to voice my opinion,
"Honestly, the use of the word itself isn't offensive to me." I said, "I mean, if you were to say, 'Hey Jenna, you have a cunt.' I would probably say, 'Why, yes, yes I do.' But if I was being bitchy and you said, 'Jenna, you're such a cunt.' I would be very offended." I went on to explain that the use of female genitalia as an insult bothered me because I feel like it teaches women that they should be ashamed of their vaginas and ashamed of themselves for having one. It also implies that vaginas are, in and of themselves, a cause of moodiness, meanness, and weakness, depending on how the insult is used.
For example: When someone says "Man, you're such a pussy!" There is an attached implication that vaginas are weak, scared, and/or unadventurous. The truth of the matter is that vaginas are none of these things. Vaginas, pussies, cunts, snatches, whatever you want to call them, are nothing but skin, muscles, and nerves by themselves. By assigning a vagina specific personality traits (or flaws, as the case may be) we are taking away the responsibility of the person attached to it. Pussies are weak so women have no responsibility to be strong, etc.
Additionally, using female genitalia as an insult devalues women in general. It adds to our culture of gender-bias.
Last night, at our little after-party, I didn't get so in depth, but I explained enough about how I felt that another man there felt compelled to agree with me. He then added,
"You, know, it's the same with male genitalia related insults too. People get so offended about calling a woman a cunt, but it's commonplace to call a man a dick. Don't you think all the same implications apply?"
I'll be honest here, I hadn't ever thought about it, and I've definitely called male friends dicks before. But as soon as he had made the point I knew he was right. Using male genitalia as a insult is just as damaging as using female genitalia.
Think about it, when you call a man a dick it's generally because he's done something mean or, very likely, misogynistic. What message is this sending out to men? When a man says or does something misogynistic and we call him a dick it's implying that he said or did that thing because he has a dick. It takes away his responsibility to be a decent person because it sends the message that he can't help it, it's just what people with penises do.
Until we stop judging each other based on our sex organs, we'll never be able to rise above the culture of gender-irresponsibility that we've created in our society. We complain about gender discrimination and gender stereotyping but then we turn around and call people dicks and cunts based on those things.
So here's an idea, let's stop. Let's start putting the responsibility of decency on people, not genitalia. When someone is mean why not say "You're mean." instead of saying "You're a dick." It's time to start saying what we mean and in the process we can change the way our culture thinks about gender and accountability. Doesn't that sound like a better world?