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Do You Use the Dirty C*** Word?

'The most taboo term in the English language'. What's its power?

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Salon's Judy Berman argues that "in a larger sense, 'cunt' does not equal 'dick' in our culture because 'woman' still does not equal 'man.' This is also why 'nigger' remains more offensive than 'cracker.' And as long as women are the second sex and African-Americans are the second race, slurs that target these groups will have greater power... I, for one, look forward to the day when I can use both 'cunt' and 'dick' with impunity. And that's not just because I'm a 'bitch.'"

A new era of profanity

I think the day when the c-word can be used with impunity is almost here. And maybe not because of feminism, but despite it. Some of the main stories in the tabloids this week are about a surgically enhanced Heidi Montag posing for Playboy, Carrie Prejean (the topless model, and homophobic former Miss California) suing the pageant, Jon Gosselin (the Jon and Kate Plus Eight dad) partying with bikini-clad women half his age, and, much more tragically, a former porn-star being murdered, dismembered then identified by her silicone implants. Now that sex and women's lady parts are becoming as public, commonplace, and unstigmatized as sliced bread, words for them are too. Even "slut" has all but disappeared from the lexicon.

It'd be near impossible to call any of the above tabloid examples triumphs of even third-wave feminism. But it's undeniable that removing the slur from women's parts and the names for them does benefit women, and signals the birth of a new era of foul language.

Tyee Contributing Editor Vanessa Richmond writes the Schlock and Awe column about popular culture and the media. She is also the former managing editor of the Tyee.

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