That Pesky C-Word

“The ultimate sexist put-down: the prick which lies down on the job. The ultimate weapon in the war between the sexes: the limp prick. The banner of the enemy’s encampment: the prick at half-mast. The symbol of the apocalypse: the atomic warhead prick which self-destructs. That was the basic inequity which could never be righted: not that the male had a wonderful added attraction called a penis, but that the female had a wonderful all-weather cunt. Neither storm nor sleet nor dark of night could faze it. It was always there, always ready. Quite terrifying, when you think about it. No wonder men hated women. No wonder they invented the myth of female inadequacy.” — Fear of Flying

Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, and as we took a stroll down memory lane — the kind of memory lane where horny people park their cars for zipless fucks — we were reminded how perfectly comfortable Jong was using the word cunt in her books (“Jealousy makes the prick grow harder. And the cunt wetter,” from How to Save Your Own Life). We keep wanting to write “the c-word” as we type — that’s how scandalous the word still is, even forty years on. Even after the release in 2002 of a book called, simply, Cunt, which traced the history of the word from honorific (in ancient times) to expletive. Even after a hipster feminist like Caitlin Moran came out of the c-word closet in 2012 and admitted that cunt is her word of choice.

Sure, we know that cunt is a pejorative, and it’s not very nice to call your nether regions names — especially a name associated with sexism and misogyny. But we think people’s discomfort with the word goes much deeper than that; twat never shocks people as much, for example, and that’s a pejorative, too (albeit a charmingly British one). Is it, in fact, because a cunt seems powerful in a way that a friendly pussy just isn’t?  And because this kind of powerful cunt makes people think of raw, dirty, uninhibited sex?

Think about it: Of all the many hundreds of euphemisms for vagina and vulva, how many of them conjure the kind of sex — or the kind of all-mighty genitals, even — that cunt does? Not snatch, not yoni, not muff, not minge, not even pussy. In fact, most euphemisms convey some level of discomfort with the area. Consider terms that compare the vagina to a smelly or unpleasant food (tuna taco, hair pie), or a strange animal (bearded clam), or an abyss of some kind (slit, gaping axe wound), or an anachronistic Victorian lady (velvet glove), or something designed to “trap” a penis (flytrap, manhole). Even terms that are supposed to empower women, like vajayjay, just end up sounding cutesy. And who wants their vagina to be cutesy, at least when it’s getting some amorous attention?

In contrast, while cunt may also reflect some societal discomfort with women, the word just doesn’t seem to care. It’s got better things to do. And it will probably never be considered adorable (unless we all start putting an umlaut over the U to create a smiley face).

For years we have struggled to find the perfect word for a woman to use in bed with a partner — as opposed to with her gynecologist or on a ladies’ night out — and we’ve always come to the conclusion that the word simply doesn’t exist. Everything is either too damn silly (love muffin), too clinical (vagina/vulva), too offensive (pussy), too cliche (pussy) or too cringe-worthy (pussy) to say out loud in bed. (Can you tell we’re not fans of the P-word?). But we wonder if cunt has been unfairly overlooked as a viable, perfectly acceptable pillow-talk possibility. Maybe Erica Jong got it right forty years ago, and the rest of us (or at least the two of us) are too delicate — too pussy, a wise-ass might say — to realize it.

Of course, the perfect word is whatever works for you, whatever that may be (and to hell with Em & Lo’s delicate sensibilities!). Your perfect word may be no word at all, but rather a sigh or a moan. But we do like the idea of trying to expand your vocabulary in bed in order to expand your sexual horizons — even if that just means testing the waters with an Oh, baby, lick my c-word.


What do you think: Have you ever used the word cunt in bed? Or could you picture yourself doing so? If not, what’s your go-to word? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 




  1. Growing up during the era of James Bond and Goldfinger, I always imagine the P word being said in a sexy accent. So, it does not bother me and I use it. The C word sometimes. It does have a rougher definition, I think.

  2. I have mixed feelings about using the word “cunt”.

    On one hand, I agree that it evokes a certain kind of power that other words don’t. There’s a rough, raw quality to it. And there really isn’t another word that doesn’t have that uncompromising quality.

    On the other hand, I virtually always see it used in a perjorative, insulting context. A female coworker/friend used it to describe my ex after doing something exceptionally distasteful. This particular friend is a very strong-willed feminist, so I found it even more disturbing that she was using a term for female genitalia as her “really big insult”.

    In a broader context, it’s interesting that terms for genitals (female and male) are so frequently used as insults. Even the f-word, which can be used for sex but also as one of the “ultimate” cuss words.

    While I might be surprised by a partner referring to her genitalia as a “cunt”, if she was comfortable with it then I think that I would get used to it. It would take some time, though, as this is the only place I can ever recall where it hasn’t been used as an insult (except for a Cynthia Heimel book I read many years ago). I am actually much more worried that a partner would be offended if I ever used the “c-word” in referring to her genitalia, and frankly this is the root of my reluctance to even type the word here. I think of myself as liberated/enlightened/whatever, and the idea of insulting or demeaning my partner isn’t something that I want to do. If I knew that she wouldn’t be offended, then that’s a different story.

  3. I have always hated the P word. Probably because it’s always been used as an insult when someone is weak, cowardly etc. It just makes me cringe.

    However, C words just seem to lend themselves to sex…clit, cock, come…so I would have no problem with the “C word” as long as it isn’t being used in an offensive or degrading way.

  4. Cunt is actually my word of choice, but I don’t use it with partners, because I worry that my partner might be shocked or turned off. Hearing an evolved guy like Johnny say he’d probably be turned off by it kind of cements that choice for me. Instead, I usually say pussy and try not to feel silly.

  5. When I use the c-word, as I often do, I don’t even think of the vagina. I use it for both genders to describe a personality type. When I say, “what a cunt,” I might be talking about a man or a woman.

    I’d probably be turned off by the word if it were used in a sexual context, which it almost never is.

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