Cunts vs Sluts, by Elfy Scott

Today, Elfy Scott discusses language in a very not safe for work way. If curse words offend you, stay away. If they don’t, then get stuck in to this fine piece of writing: 

Why ‘cunt’ is okay and ‘slut’ is not.

I entirely appreciate that perhaps the desensitization to the word ‘cunt’ is a primarily Australian linguistic anomaly, as I have certainly encountered British and Americans in my time that absolutely fall to pieces at its mention. The efficacy of the word ‘cunt’ should never be undermined, it should remain revered as the checkmate of all swear words; just like a household’s good silver, it should be polished, kept in a drawer and divulged in only on special occasions. ‘Cunt’ is a phonetically beautiful word, Louis CK was certainly not off the mark when he described it as “chocolatey and round at the ends”; it is a definitive form of verbal punctuation easily analogised to banging one’s fist on a table, or, you know, kicking somebody in the shin. ‘Cunt’ has the certain je ne sais quoi any savvy and sophisticated individual should employ when looking to offend those who truly deserve such a title, for example, anybody who cuts you off in traffic suddenly, Chris Brown or whoever thought introducing Corn Club to Westfield in 2010 was a decent idea.

‘Cunt’ is an Australian lexical phenomenon insofar as it has been liberally adopted as a casual term and occasionally one of endearment among, yes, perhaps less savory individuals and simultaneously, remains firmly the epitome of obscene language for others; which can, admittedly, be confusing when one travels between Western Sydney and the middle-class kitchens of the North Shore quite often. What must be made clear is that the dimorphic existence of the word ‘cunt’ is made possible only through the nature of the rapidly shifting landscape of informal language; words such as these are granted their status only by means of context and intent, they are only ever as evil as a society perpetuates them to be and yet, a society failing to acknowledge the true danger of a word is infinitely more destructive.

I feel genuinely ashamed for never previously recognizing the sheer abhorrence and appallingly sexist nature of the word ‘slut’ throughout my high school years. Having been educated in a prestigious private girls’ school, ‘slut’ was used abundantly, dismissively and vindictively. Of course, it is evident from a young age for most females that a certain inequality exists, as there is blatantly no male equivalent for the word ‘slut’ and although I recognised this imbalance, it was easy to ignore, as it was so constantly apparent and I was shamefully caught in a majority seeking to condemn the conspicuous select few deemed ‘sluts’ for outlandish sexual behaviour, rumors thereof or simple failures to conform to general expectations of behaviour. Had I been on the receiving end of such slander I probably would have considered the implication of ‘slut’ much sooner, however, having lost my virginity at sixteen to a person with whom I was to spend the rest of high school in a monogamous relationship, this was unlikely and thus, my ignorance continued unabated for many years.

The word ‘slut’ originated in 15th Century Middle England and referred to a slovenly or dirty woman, it was then adjusted to refer to a metaphorically ‘dirty’ woman – one who is unusually promiscuous or has loose sexual morals. However, 600 odd years later, in an increasingly secular and liberal-minded society, the notion that one would have the audacity to openly shame another’s sexuality with such an ignorant and misogynist term is absolutely beyond me. The use of the word ‘slut’ in reference to a woman should be as reprehensible as the word ‘faggot’ is in malicious reference to a homosexual; discrediting an individual’s sexuality, the very fibre of their being, is not acceptable under any circumstance. I have heard several justifications for its use in my time, none of which are legitimate in the least, including an argument from a man stating that when a man sleeps with women, it is impressive because it is that much more difficult for a man to get laid whereas with women, it is shameful because it is too easy. For the record, being a single woman, I recognise the sheer inaccuracy of this statement and furthermore, it is entirely irrelevant; all humans want to fuck, it is a fundamental part of our being and undermining that drive with titles such as ‘slut’ is incredibly damaging to an essential fibre of our being. Another argument I have encountered is that ‘slut’ is tolerable in naming a woman who hurts others with her sex, that it is a legitimate title for a woman who cheats, steals partners or acts with uninhibited callousness towards others in sexual endeavors. No, that woman is not a ‘slut’, that woman, just as any man who does the same, is a fucking asshole.

Shaming ‘sluts’ causes pervasive damage to a culture that otherwise believes itself to be one of liberty and progressive thought. It justifies sexual harassment, assault and rape by blaming it upon the victim for outlandish sexual behaviour or advertising. Herein lies my advice though, use the word ‘slut’ generously. Not in reference to a woman’s sexuality but copiously when discussing anyone or anything you feel in favour of mildly offending. Donald Glover proposed the same for the word “n***a” and suggested Charlie Sheen be handed the NAACP award for calling Denise Richards, his white ex-wife, a “n***a”. I employ the word ‘faggot’ liberally, of course I would never say it in a spiteful manner towards a homosexual, it is simply a satisfying curse towards a lot of people as well as things, I call my cat a ‘faggot’ on a daily basis; these words ultimately lose their semantics when abused often in contexts utterly irrelevant to their original definition and in losing the word, the implication is erased.

I sincerely hope the use ‘slut’ in the manner of disgracing another beings’ sexuality has been made abundantly clear as a term that should be absolutely intolerable and you are to stop employing this word, lest you be seen as a total cunt.


Words by Elfy Scott.