26

I turn 26 in two hours’ time. Here are 26 things I am angry about and intend to overthrow before I turn 28*

1. The Coalition

2. The patriarchy

3. The distinct lack of free chlamydia screening for people my age

4. Theresa May

5. Bankers

6. Hiding anchovies inside perfectly nice olives

7. The Coalition

8. The kyriarchy

9. Tories

10. Lib Dems

11. Labour

12. Fuck it, parliamentary politics on the whole

13. Rapists

14. People who don’t find lame puns funny

15. Andrew Lansley

16. The government

17. The patriarchy

18. Putting milk in tea without explicit prior consent

19. Plane trees

20. The police

21. Rape apologists

22. Prawn crackers

23. Tax avoiders

24. Nadine Dorries

25. The government

26. The patriarchy

There may be some overlap between concepts. This is because everything is connected.

*I have a slight aversion to the number three and its multiples, and therefore will be skipping 27 (3^3) and doing 28 twice.

Gash.

At risk of becoming That Woman Who Blogs About Cunts All The Time, indulge me with a small rant.

I really hate the word “gash” and find it incredibly offensive. I hate it when it is used to refer to the female genitals. I hate it even more when it is used as a synonym for “bad”. “Sucker Punch was absolutely gash.” No. Sucker Punch was almost entirely awful. It was crap, it was rubbish, it was a  big pile of shitting arses. It was not gash.

I sometimes wonder if this is how a lot of people feel about the word “cunt”.

I tweeted, floating the idea that “gash” was more offensive to me than “cunt”, and received unanimous agreement.

Gash is horrible because gash is a wound. Gash is horrible because it takes the beautiful and natural and turns it pathologised and violent. Gash is horrible as it comes up from the back of the throat like a cough of disgust.

Gash is an insult, a hatred of cunts.

Fannies, noo-noos, tuppences

Recently, on a bored Friday afternoon, I decided to conduct a small straw poll: what did you call women’s genitals when you were a child?

I asked for two reasons: first, I was bored and wanted some @-replies. Second, I was genuinely curious as to the language surrounding the issue, especially considering that the male answer is the near-ubiquitous “willy”.

From my highly scientific survey, childhood euphemisms for cunt seem to fall into four major groups:
The ridiculous: nou-nou, fanny, twinkle, foof, minnie, and similar. Words that one cannot say without a giggle; silly and frivolous words that one could equally use to describe the remote control or other household items with temporarily-forgotten names.
The clinical: the supposedly-correct ‘vagina’ or the more accurate ‘vulva’. I had an acquaintance at school who said ‘vulva’. At six years old, I found it absurdly clinical.
The cultural: I used what is apparently a rather rude Greek word: pouto. Perhaps it was foreshadowing: it translates as ‘cunt’. Other people from other backgrounds may use a word from a mother’s mother tongue.
The shameful: one of my Twitter correspondents knew children who would say ‘Delilah’. The Freudian connotations are startling. Into this category, I would also place what emerged as the clear winner in the straw poll: ‘tuppence’. I cannot think of any anatomical reason why the female genitals would resemble a 2p coin, so the reason must buy into the transaction model of sex. A cunt is worth pennies–two, to be precise–a thing where the ferryman must be paid in order to gain safe passage.

Outside of all of this, and one which made me smile was “willy for boys and billy for girls“, which the submitter found with hindsight presented an “equal but different” approach. Certainly sweet, although somewhat derivative of “willy” and therefore suggestive of a “men as norms, women as other” approach.

A further point of note was the sheer quantity of tweeters who did not ever speak of genitals, particularly female ones.

Even as children, female genitals are surrounded by shame, by sly giggles. As one tweeter put it:

fanny & willy, although as a boy fanny always felt naughtier and ruder.

This was not limited to boys, though. Many women tweeted that they were too embarrassed to say, even as adults.

We are taught to fear cunts. They are as hidden in language as we are supposed to believe they are concealed between our legs. It starts early, with daft squishy words thought to be horribly rude, or with grubby connotations of financial transactions and treacherous sexual power. It is not just the word “cunt” which holds power.

Female genitals are supposed to be secretive, mysterious; euphemised in frivolities and foreign dialect. Shame grows from the mystery–if it is not talked about, how can we ever know that a cunt is nothing to be frightened of? That a cunt is not ruder than a cock? That it’s all just perfectly lovely, non-shameful stuff.

I am not exactly the child-owning sort, but if I had children, I would teach them a rainbow of words, from the unnecessarily-obscene “cunt”, to the absurdly clinical “vulva”, and everything in between. And with that, I would say “there is nothing inherently wrong with cunts. And they’re worth more than 2p”.