In this provocative piece of women’s studies writing, Inga Muscio traces the history of the word “cunt” and explains that while once the word was a term of respect and power between and about women, over the years the patriarchy turned it into something disgusting, shameful, and just about the worst insult in the English language. With this book, Muscio hopes to empower women to understand that they hold their own power in their very actions towards the world, with how they choose to support or not support the patriarchy, how they choose to support or not support institutions that harm women, and how every decision women make can be a feminist, political one.
I’d been meaning to read this book for ages, but when Eva talked about how much she loved it, I knew I had to bump it up to the top of my list. Cunt is absolutely a wonderful book. It is exactly what its title proposes: a declaration of women’s independence. Independence from the institutions in society that keep us less than, from the messages we face every day that tell us we are unworthy, from the male-dominated companies making decisions about the products and services that only (or at least, primarily) women consume.
I have to say that while I don’t agree with all of Muscio’s opinions, she definitely gave me plenty of food for thought. For example, I personally LOVE my oral contraceptives because they do wonders for my body in a lot of ways, and Muscio is opposed to them on principle (why should women have to alter our body’s chemistry for the benefit of men, etc…), but her stance on the issue made me think about what other things I might be doing to my body or my mind because society tells me I have to. It also made me grateful to know that we live in a world with the availability of these medicines, and the ability for every woman to decide for herself the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and regulate her body’s cycle (or not).
I have to honestly say that I know Cunt won’t be for everyone. Muscio is a really, really radical feminist – perhaps the most radical one I’ve read – and her attitudes won’t be shared by every reader, but I do think it’s a worthwhile read nonetheless. Like I said, I don’t agree with several of her arguments, but I still found the book eye-opening and a valuable asset to my collection of feminist works. If nothing else, the book will help you define your own opinions about feminism and how women can take more control and have more power in this male-dominated world. If you are at all interested in feminism and/or women’s studies, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence is a must-read!