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By contrast, the parallel trend towards repetitive usage of 'cunt' seeks to undermine the taboo through desensitisation.
If 'cunt' is repeated ad infinitum, our sense of shock at initially encountering the word is rapidly dispelled.
contains the most detailed study of what he calls "The most heavily tabooed of all English words" (1989), though his article is only five pages long.
Cunt: A Cultural History Of The C-Word is therefore intended as the first comprehensive analysis of this ancient and powerful word.
Taboos relating to language are most readily associated with the transgressive lexicon of swearing.'Cunt' is a primary example of the multitude of tabooed words and phrases relating to female sexuality, and of the misogyny inherent in sexual discourse.Kate Millett sums up the word's uniquely despised status: "Somehow every indignity the female suffers ultimately comes to be symbolized in a sexuality that is held to be her responsibility, her shame [...] It can be summarized in one four-letter word. Our self-contempt originates in this: in knowing we are cunt" (1973).The clarifies the word's commonest contexts as the two-fold "female external genital organs" and "term of vulgar abuse" (RW Burchfield, 1972).At the heart of this incongruity is our culture's negative attitude towards femininity.'Cunt' has been succinctly defined as "the bottom half of a woman or a very despicable person" (Pentti Olli, 1999).According to Francis Grose's scurrilous definition, it is "a nasty name for a nasty thing" (1796).The Cunt-Art movement used traditional 'feminine' arenas such as sewing and cheerleading as artistic contexts in which to relocate the word.A parallel 'cunt-power' ideology, seeking to reclaim the word more forcefully, was instigated by Germaine Greer - and later revived by Zoe Williams, who encouraged "Cunt Warriors" to reclaim the word (2006), the latest of the "various attempts over several hundred years of usage to "resignify" cunt to resume its original, feminine-anatomical status" (Jacqueline Z Wilson, 2008[b]).There have been attempts, however, to reappropriate 'cunt', investing it with a positive meaning and removing it from the lexicon of offence, similar in effect to the transvaluation of 'bad', 'sick', and 'wicked', whose colloquial meanings have also been changed from negative to positive - what Jonathon Green calls "the bad equals good model" of oppositional slang (Jennifer Higgie, 1998).The same process took place in Mexico when the offensive term 'guey'/'buey' was "co-opted by the cool, young set as a term of endearment" (Marc Lacey, 2009).