Re: [-empyre-] [empyre] producers and consumers
On Thursday, December 19, 2002, at 09:23 PM, Eryk Salvaggio wrote:
>I did mention in a previous post that the problem with the word
"cunt" and >with women identifying themselves with it is that it plays
directly into the >segmentation of the body and the idea of a woman as
an extension of her >sexual organs.
>It strikes me as a profoundly absurd practice for a woman to refer to
herself >as a "cunt" as a source of pride. Even removing the negative
connotations of >reducing oneself to a sexual organ, consider the
absurdity of referring to >yourself as an earlobe- how does this
address who you are, what ideas you >have, what your soul is made of?
Even positive stereotypes are stereotypes, >which serve to reduce a
person to a role, which is the precise opposite >process of
liberation. The idea of turning "cunt" into a "positive" term is kind
>of valueless. If African Americans has turned the word "nigger" into
a >compliment it wouldn't change race relations, and, in fact, would
only serve >to further enforce its negative connotations into the role
playing of any >African American individual who chose to identify
themselves with that term.
I think there's a strong argument for women refering to
themselves/their body parts as 'cunt'. Using "cunt" is a way to
recognise the historical oppression of women that this word is a part
of, and to use its negative power in a positive way. It's not at all
like referring to yourself as an earlobe because there isn't a history
of people referring to other people negatively as earlobes. If there
was, it would make sense for the 'earlobes' to reclaim this word as a
The word 'queer' is a good example of 'hate speech' being reclaimed as
a source of pride: a few decades ago, that was a negative term. Now
there is an academic field named after it. The example of 'nigga' is
more problematic, but at least some African Americans choose to use
it. These positive uses don't wipe away the negative uses: it's not a
simple matter of saying 'actually, i really like being a
cunt/nigger/etc'. The reclaimation is a way of recognising that this
is one way in which society/language defines you, and that you can
either accept this as a negative disempowering thing, or turn it round
and use it as a source of power.
Language isn't a fixed thing. Meanings and associations can be changed
by enough people using a negative term in a positive way. A woman
using 'cunt' isn't just referring to herself as a body part--she's
also affirming the cunt as a source of power (sexual, creative, etc).
You can see this in the Cyberfeminist Manifesto--VNS Matrix weren't
just saying 'we are cunts', they were saying also that the cunt was a
source of creative power. So they weren't just accepting the negative
connotations--they were using the word in a different way as well. And
they were doing this, as has been pointed out, in a particular time
and place, where such an assertion made sense.
Judith Butler has written a great book, Excitable Speech, on this
topic. i can't remember whether it discusses 'cunt' but it does talk
about 'nigger' and other such words of hate speech that have been
reclaimed in this way.
Yes, this might not be the way to achieve full liberation--if such a
thing is possible. But it's an important step along the way. We're not
going to be cunts forever, just for the time that it is necessary to
change people's thinking.
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