December 03, 2006

On C_nts, P_$$y$, and Pri@ks

Perusing this very funny post over at Ezra's place brought the world of insults to mind; specifically the ones that use various body parts. Do check the comments section after reading, as the converstaion there is an interesting study in opinion.

Warning: this post is intended only for those who understand George Carlin.

That said, here we go:

Bearing in mind that "fuck" comes from the Germanic "To hit or strike", and still (obviously) carries much of the same connotation. Later it came to mean "hit, strike or make love to", which gives come idea of sex in medieval Europe...

You'd think "asshole", being like opinions, would have a universal application; but I've only heard it used against men, likewise "bastard". "Bitch" and "C_nt" seem to be the only really common ones used against women in my experience, though the second is fairly rare.

Males are called all sorts of theoretically female terms for being percieved as soft or feminine ("pussy", "momma's boy", "fag"); when they are regarded as overly aggressive or masculine, that's when "prick" and "asshole" are used, but so is c_nt. "Motherfucker" doesn't have a female equivalent I've noticed, either.

Women, when they are seen as being overly masculine, are often enough called "bitches" or "c_nts", words that have no male connotation; there doesn't seem to be anything specific to be used when they are seen as overly passive or feminine. "Twat" seems to imply idiocy or incompetence.

"C_unt", by the way, is back to Anglo-Saxon, and has never changed it's meaning. Good folk for simple words, them!

More to the point, it strikes me that it's the sound of the words as much as their literal meaning that carries the insult. C_nt's a short, hard-consonant sound that's quick to say: rather masculine, perhaps? Whereas "pussy" is softer, longer and drawn out. Even "fag" is lengthened when used as a taunt. "Asshole" isn't an exception to this, being two easily separated syllables with an open-mouth start that hardens the word. The closed-mouth start to "prick" could be why it doesn't sound as harsh to us as some of the other insults.

Or am I just getting way to into this?

Note: I'm using aggressive/masculine and passive/feminine in classical yin/yang terminology here, since that seems to be where the conversation's going - but otherwise false dichotomies drive me *ahem* nuts.


posted by Thursday at 2:35 pm


Blogger Stephen said...

I have noticed that the term term "c_nt" is used by men to describe other men who are behaving selfishly or as if their concerns are the only important consideration.

"Bitch" on the other hand is applied to women who take control of situations. If you observe how an alpha feamle relates to other dogs in any group situation, you can see where the term comes from. Women tend to use terms like "den mother" to describe the same tendency. The verb "bitch" appears to mean "complain" - at least in North American usage - and seems to be accpetable in polite company.

9:58 am  
Blogger Thursday said...

Stephen -

In my own experience, "cunt" (no filters here!) is a very rare word in North America, unlike the UK where while it isn't used as much as other epithets, but it was more frequently applied than this side of the pond. Begbie, anyone?

As for comparing "bitch" to "den mother", I have to say the meaning is radically different in those two contexts. Perhaps you mean being overly protective, like a "mother hen", or being "mothering"?

"Bitch" as a verb is not actually acceptable in polite company (Judith Martin backs me up on this), as it is used to speak poorly of someone else, ie. someone's "being bitchy", or "bitches too much".

Who's Judith Martin?

Thanks for the comment.

8:02 pm  

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