Cunt : A Declaration of Independence

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Overview

An ancient title of respect for women, the word "cunt" long ago veered off this noble path. Inga Muscio traces the road from honor to expletive, giving women the motivation and tools to claim "cunt" as a positive and powerful force in their lives. With humor and candor, she shares her own history as she explores the cultural forces that influence women's relationships with their bodies. Sending out a call for every woman to be the Cuntlovin' Ruler of Her Sexual Universe, Muscio stands convention on its head by ...
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Overview

An ancient title of respect for women, the word "cunt" long ago veered off this noble path. Inga Muscio traces the road from honor to expletive, giving women the motivation and tools to claim "cunt" as a positive and powerful force in their lives. With humor and candor, she shares her own history as she explores the cultural forces that influence women's relationships with their bodies. Sending out a call for every woman to be the Cuntlovin' Ruler of Her Sexual Universe, Muscio stands convention on its head by embracing all things cunt-related.
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Editorial Reviews

BUST Magazine
[Muscio] shares a personal journey so down-to-earth, so intimate, and real, you won't realize you're reading the biggest feminist manifesto since the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments....Cunt does for feminism what smoothies did for high-fiber diets—it reinvents the oft-indeigestible into something sweet and delicious.
Andy Steiner
...[A] rollicking investigation of the cultural forces that influence women's relationships with their bodies.
Utne Reader
Bull
Hip, witty and irreverant...I think that many women will find this book is more than just an enjoyable treatise on the subject of all things related to "down there"...Muscio will make you think, piss you off, and maybe even recommit you to sisterhood.
—Sojourner
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580050159
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/23/1998
  • Series: Live Girls Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 277
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 6.99 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 3
Pt. I The Word 13
Cuntist Mystique 17
Pt. II The Anatomical Jewel 25
Blood and Cunts 28
Reproductive Control for Cunts 53
Whores 87
Orgasms from Cunts 104
Acrimony of Cunts 131
Rape Not Cunts 149
Pt. III Reconciliation 181
Aggro Beyond Your Wildest Dreams 185
Who Remedios Varo Is 205
Who Mammon Is 223
The End: Who the Old Woman with Black Eyeballs that Swallow You in Love Is 238
Cuntlovin' Guide to the Universe 243
Selected Bibliography and Reading List 263
Credits 271
Gracious Thanks 273
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First Chapter

Chapter One

Cuntist Mystique

I came across the power of "cunt" quite accidentally. After writing an article for a newspaper, I typed in "word count," but left out the "o." My editor laughingly pointed out the mistake. I looked at the two words together and decided "Word Cunt" seemed like a nice title for a woman writer. As a kind of intraoffice byline, I started typing "Word Cunt" instead of "word count" on all my articles.

    The handful of people who saw hard copies of my work reacted strongly and asked why I chose to put these two words on my articles. After explaining my reasoning to editorial assistants, production magis, proofreaders and receptionists, I started wondering about the actual, decontextualized power of "cunt."

    I looked up "cunt" in Barbara G. Walker's twenty-five-year research opus, The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, and found it was indeed a title, back in the day. "Cunt" is related to words from India, China, Ireland, Rome and Egypt. Such words were either titles of respect for women, priestesses and witches, or derivatives of the names of various goddesses:


In ancient writings, the word for "cunt" was synonymous with "woman," though not in the insulting modern sense. An Egyptologist was shocked to find the maxims of Ptah-Hotep "used for `woman' a term that was more than blunt," though its indelicacy was not in the eye of the ancient beholder, only in that of the modern scholar. (Walker, 1983, 197)


    The words "bitch" and "whore" have also shared a similar fate in our language. This seemed rather fishy to me. Three words which convey negative meanings about women, specifically, all happen to have once had totally positive associations about women, specifically.

    Of the three, "cunt" garners the most powerful negative reaction.

    How come?

    This was obviously a loaded question to be asking myself, 'cause the answer evolved into quite the life-consuming project.


According to every woman-centered historical reference I have read--from M. Esther Harding to bell hooks--the containment of woman's sexuality was a huge priority to emerging patrifocal religious and economic systems.

    Cunts were anathema to forefather types. Literally and metaphorically, the word and anatomical jewel presided at the very nexus of many earlier religions which impeded phallic power worship. In Western civilization, forefather types practiced savior-centered religions, such as Catholicism. Springing forth from a very real, very fiscal fear of women and our power, eventually evolving into sexual retardation and womb envy, a philosophy and social system based on destruction was culled to thriving life. One of the more well-documented instances of this destruction-oriented consciousness is something called the Inquisition. It lasted for over five hundred years. That is how long it took the Inquisition to rend serious damage to the collective spirit of non-savior-centered religious worshippers.

    The Inquisition justified the--usually sadistic--murder, enslavement or rape of every woman, child and man who practiced any form of spiritual belief which did not honor savior-centered phallic power worship.

    Since the beginning of time, most cultures honored forces which were tangible, such as the moon, earth, sun, water, birth, death and life. A spirituality which was undetectable to any of the human senses was considered incomprehensible.

    One imagines victims of the Inquisition were not hard to come by. Women who owned anything more than the clothes on their backs and a few pots to piss in were religiously targeted by the Inquisition because all of women's resources and possessions became property of the famously cuntfearing Catholic Church. Out of this, the practice of sending "missionaries" into societies bereft of savior-centered spiritualities evolved.

    Negative reactions to "cunt" resonate from a learned fear of ancient yet contemporary, inherent yet lost, reviled yet redemptive cuntpower.


Eradicating a tried and true, stentorian-assed word from a language is like rendering null the Goddess Herself.

    It's impossible.

    Ancient, woman-centered words and beliefs never, like, fall off the planet. Having long done taken on a life of their own, they--like womankind--evolve, and survive.

    Chameleon style.

    For women this has involved making many, many concessions, such as allowing our selves, goddesses, priestesses and words to be defined and presented by men.

    Many words found in woman-centered religions, such as cunt, bitch, whore, dog, ass, puta, skag and hag, along with the names of just about all goddesses--over time--assimilated bad connotations. As matrifocal lifestyles became less and less acceptable, "cunt" survived, necessarily carrying a negative meaning on into the next millennium.


Words outlive people, institutions, civilizations. Words spur images, associations, memories, inspirations and synapse pulsations. Words send off physical resonations of thought into the nethersphere. Words hurt, soothe, inspire, demean, demand, incite, pacify, teach, romance, pervert, unite, divide.

    Words be powerful.

    Grown-ups and children are not readily encouraged to unearth the power of words. Adults are repeatedly assured a picture is worth a thousand of them, while the playground response to almost any verbal taunt is "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

    I don't beg so much as command to differ.


For young girls in this society, coming into the power we are born with is no easy task. As children, our power is not culled out of us as it is for boys. Still, culling power is--above and beyond all social conditioning--a very surmountable task to which womankind collectively rises higher each day.

    But we need a language.

    A means of communication demands and precedes change.

    I posit that we're free to seize a word that was kidnapped and co-opted in a pain-filled, distant past, with a ransom that cost our grandmothers' freedom, children, traditions, pride and land. I figure we've paid the ransom, but now, everybody long done forgot "cunt" was ours in the first place.


I have lived the past couple years of my life writing a book called Cunt. When people ask me what I do, sometimes I bypass the whole conversation and say I'm a taxidermist. Reactions to a book called Cunt always lead to an intense grilling. Ain't never encountered ambivalence. At this juncture, I am still absolutely unable to gauge reactions to this word.

    Living with the title of this book as such a huge fixture in my day-to-day life has been a very weird anthropological study unto itself. "Cunt" is a bad, bad word, but damn if it don't intrigue people when it's the title of a book instead of a meanspirited expletive.


Since everybody already knows that the diabolization of "cunt" is an absolute reality of our language, nobody has to waste time and energy defending its honor.

    A cunt by any other name is still a cunt.

    "Cunt" is a highly satisfying word to utter on a regular basis.

    Every girl and lady who is strong and fighting and powerful, who thrives in this world in a way that serves her, is a rockin', cuntlovin' babe doing her part to goad the post-patriarchal age into fruition.

    "Cunt" is the crusty, disgusting bottle in the city dump pile that is bejewelled underneath and has a beautiful genie inside.


Here is a nice story about the transformation of destructive negative, crap-ola into constructive, positive brilliantiana.

    Once upon a time, civil rights activist Dick Gregory went into a restaurant and ordered some chicken. Three or four men who wore pointy white hoods for their nighttime fashion statement presently came into the restaurant and said, (I'm paraphrasing here) "Yo, boy. Anything y'do tah dat chicken, we're gone do tah yoo."

    Mr. Gregory looked at the chicken on the plate before him and was silent.

    The men repeated, "Anything y'do tah dat chicken, boy, we're gone do tah yoo."

    Everybody in the restaurant stopped what they were doing and stared.

    Mr. Gregory sighed, picked up the chicken and gave it a big ol', sweet ol' kiss.


Perhaps, as some "historians" may have it, I fabricated the historic considerations in reassessing the way we presently perceive "cunt."

    Even if "cunt" were simply four spontaneous letters someone strung together one day 'cause his wife didn't have dinner on the table when he got home from a hard day's labor offing witches or indigenous peoples, it is still our word. Demographically, the women who have no chance of negatively being called "cunts" throughout life can be found in totally cloistered nunneries and maybe Amish communities.

    Based on the criteria that "cunt" can be neither co-opted nor spin-doctored into having a negative meaning, venerable history or not, it's ours to do with what we want. And thanks to the versatility and user-friendliness of the English language, "cunt" can be used as an all new woman-centered, cuntlovin' noun, adjective or verb.

    I, personally, am in love with the idea.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 28 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2002

    YES!

    This is a must-read for ALL women!! Witty, empowering...a new bible for the feminist movement!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2002

    what I already knew

    I am a hetero male, but I read it on the advice of a lesbian. I think the author is a bit self absorbed. Many men already feel a great appreciation for the 'love taco', there is no need to extrapolate.This small object makes the world go 'round, and we don't need the author to psychoanalyse.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2002

    My new favorite book- a feminist womanifesto

    This book is a very readable, completely applicable and extremely empowering read. I have read it three times in the last two weeks. All women interested in feeling great about their womanhood ought to read it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2002

    Feministic, yet Funny

    Cunt is one of the most readable pieces of feministic literature, that I've ever read. Muscio delivers her intended message, but at the same time, she is laugh-out-loud funny. This book helped me to realize that my cunt is a beautiful thing and should be cherished.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2002

    Vagina sounds like a disease

    This is a stunning book chock full of tips on how to celebrate one's body, mind and everlovin' soul. Inga approaches the taboo subject of c-u-n-t-s with humor, grace, and confidence. It's like no other book on feminism I've read (ie: It keeps you reading, instead of snoring or screaming at the page.). A must have book for any woman- especially those scared of themselves and the power of what lurks 'down there'. Buy three, pass em around.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2001

    This is an awesome read

    This book is amazing, it made me think about so many different facets of my own life. I believe that any reader can relate to this novel is some form, it was an eye opener. Every woman should read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2001

    THIS BOOK IS AWESOME

    I think this book is one of the most excellent books I have ever read. I'm a bisexual male, yet this book appealed to me greatly. It's not only for females; it's for anyone who has or needs a stronger sense of who they are and their own power as individuals,as groups of people ,and as human beings.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2001

    Awesome

    I absolutely loved this book. I found out about it through a friend, and picked up a copy for myself. they should hand it out at those silly classes we were required to attend in grade school, then maybe girls wouldn't be so ashamed of their bodies. a must-read for anyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2001

    Entertaining and Informative

    Cunt was suprisingly to-the-point and real. The tale of one woman's experience put into simple terms and taboo issues makes a roller-coaster ride of empowerment, understanding, intrigue and humor. Inga addresses a number of personal issues most people today aren't willing to allow to be brought into casual discussion. Yet so many of the subjects are crucial to a healthy woman's experience today.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2000

    Cunt Rocks! !

    Inga Muscio has done an awesome job writing this book. It's very easy to read, very persuasive, and she knows what she wants to say. There are absolutely no grey areas, she expresses her thoughts very clearly. I Love this book, and all of my girlfriends own a copy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2000

    OUTSTANDING!

    i originally picked this book up to try to rid my head of all the negative aspects of 'cunt.' i learned a lot more. this book is a must-read, if you have a cunt or not.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2000

    Absolutely amazing!!!

    I think that every woman should read this book, and I think that every girl entering womanhood should read it. Muscio frees women from what they should and tells us to just be what we are. She is preaching the respect that we all need to learn. This is a MUST READ!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 1999

    read this book

    this is the grrls bible with no refernce to jesus. it is amazing, it is a declation of independance and there is the added joy of reading it in public. it is something every grrl should read, it has important lessons to be learned, and Inga rocks.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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