by Inga Muscio
(Seal Press, 2002)
Some say the best way to de-intensify the shock value of a word is simply to use it. I find it’s true. When I was invited to join a “Cunt” book group, based on the book by Inga Muscio, I had trouble with the word, as many do. It seemed to make our lips contort as we said it – it was unnatural. But after months of raving about the book and sharing our own experiences, we now refer to each other as “cunts” and “cunt-lovin’ women.” Because we embraced the word as an unnecessarily derogatory word for women, the word now drips out of our mouths like maple from a tree.
Through a series of personal experiences and stories, Muscio explores culture and the forces that teach women to hate our menstrual cycles, hide our sexuality and cower in the face of patriarchic consumerism. She uses humor and wit to expound upon topics that would make men and many women blush.
In the end, Muscio has done exactly what she had set out to do—at least for the women in my group. She taught us to open ourselves, share and embrace. She helped us wrap our minds around the word “cunt” and find a meaning for it within ourselves, not in the confines of urban slang. We embrace “cunt” not only as a word, but as a representation of the beautiful thing we all have in common.