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This essay, titled (a reference to the classic ) is, like Germaine Greer's , explicitly presented as a manifesto. Like Greer's essay, it was first published by the underground press, and is refreshingly direct, radical, and powerful. It has been reprinted, in abridged form, by as (2002). Fortunately, it has none of Eve Ensler's self-congratulations and none of Inga Muscio's over-generalisations. Indeed, and are probably the two most significant contributions to the cunt-power movement.
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Special features (80 min.): Community discussion with Ball, Macdissi, Bishil & Hussam Ayloush (30 min.); community discussion with Erian & Rajdeep Singh Jolly (50 min.). Based on the novel: Towelhead by Alicia Erian (Main (Gardner) Stacks PS3555.R4265 T69 2005).
The c-word, 'cunt', is perhaps the most offensive word in the English language, and consequently it has never been researched in depth. Hugh Rawson's 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.
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A less likely pioneer of reclamation is the self-styled 'battle-axe' Christine Hamilton, though her celebratory nevertheless marked a re-evaluation of the term. Julie Bindel cites 'bird' and 'ho' as "blatant insults [...] co-opted by the recipients of those insults and turned into ironic terms of endearment and empowerment" (2006). Patrick Strudwick praises for "reclaiming the term "bint" from the huge slag heap of misogynist smears and turning it into something fabulous" (2004).
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Richard Herring notes the paradox that, while the vagina should be celebrated, 'cunt' is an inexplicably offensive term: "it describes quite a nice thing. If you give words the power then they are nasty. But you can turn things around and use them in a different way" (Anthony Barnes, 2006). Thus, reclaiming abusive language requires a change not in meaning but in attitude. Whereas Madonna is perhaps the most significant embodiment of this transvaluation - female sexual empowerment being asserted as liberating and subversive - the theory behind it has been articulated most dramatically by Germaine Greer in her essay for on the word 'whore'.
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According to Brigid McConville and John Shearlaw, 'cunt' "reflects the deep fear and hatred of the female by the male in our culture. It is a far nastier and more violent insult than 'prick' which tends to mean foolish rather than evil. This violent usage is a constant and disturbing reminder to women of the hatred associated with female sexuality and leaves women with few positive words to name their own organs" (1984). The 'cunt' taboo is but the most extreme example of a general taboo surrounding the lexicon of the female genitals: "Mild, non-specific [...] euphemisms are employed to not name that part of women's bodies" (Virginia Braun and Sue Wilkinson, 2001).
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The various epithets used to insult mentally handicapped people represent a further lexicon of reclaimed pejoratives. Mark Radcliffe profiles "people with mental health problems tak[ing] the sting out of stigma by reclaiming pejoratives" (2003), citing 'Crazy Folks' and 'Mad Pride' as groups whose names "reclaim some of the stigmatising language". This consciously humorous appropriation of 'crazy' and 'mad' must, however, avoid being misinterpreted as a trivialisation of those whom it seeks to empower.