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September 14, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Head to head: The word cunt is offensive

Cunt is possibly the last taboo word we have in the English speaking world, but is it even that offensive?

That ‘cunt’ is offensive

By Jean-Michel Olivier, Independent Film Maker

We find our hero sitting bow-legged on the set of his latest cinematic construction, the aptly titled C Word Run. He regards me with a certain je ne sais qua as he contemplates a response.

“Would you mind repeating the question for moi?” he asks.

I do.

“Well,” the director begins, “Sit still and I shall tell you a tale…”

In 1996 when I was but a lonely best boy for Robyn G. Ackman’s mind-blowing tribute to banal nationalism The River Runs Red, White, and Blew You to Smithereens, Sandman, I whittled away the hours by reading some of the finest literature of our time. Your readers may not be familiar with the treatises of Norman Sandchild and his seminal work The Fuck, but it changed my conception of what constitutes reality.

I was no longer satisfied with fixing lights; I needed to become my own light. I developed an insatiable need to rise up beyond my better self and produce something complete—an even better self. I became fixated on Chapter 12 of The Fuck, which was entitled The Power of the Word. I photocopied it at least seven-dozen times and plastered it across the walls of my New Yorkian bedsit. In it, Sandchild poses that the word ‘fuck’ has an indelible power. “To replace it with another word like ‘dog’ or ‘barbeque’ would have an immediate and banal re-ac-tion,” he says.

This single sentence was a revelation. It became an obsession. I found it wrapping around my body and sniping my face like a cobra sitting on top of an anaconda during the wet season. It suddenly became clear; the obsession developed meaning. I had to embrace this and give it some kind of form, a claymation samba of a tango, if you will.

I moved out of my bedset and hiked across the western plains to Billings, Montana, where I lived in a cave subsiding on flecks of moss and contaminated cave water for six years. In that time, I began to concoct my ideal image of a word. Linguists around the world have agreed (I assume) that the power of one single word can change the world. It became my destiny to find a word and lead that word down the road of enlightenment and towards a podium facing out upon humanity.

The word… is not a popular word, this I must accept. It is a word that for better or worse has enveloped a set of meanings and conceptions. It is understood to mean something in a literal sense, and another in its hateful virtual embodiment. I am not the architect of this meaning; but I must accept it is true. It is why I have used it with absolute aplomb in C Word Run. You may not find the word offensive, but it is used to construct offensive meaning. Le word ‘cunt’, ergo, mon ami, is offensive.

He folded his arms and leaned back in his chair. A look fell across his face that said ‘checkmate’, and I was left confused. Had this man, this Jean-Michel Olivier, successfully proven once and for all that the word cunt was indeed offensive?

Before I had time to fathom the story, a best boy with feathered hair and a surly disposition came running over.

“Mr Olivier,” he shot across the air, “Mr Olivier, Bruno wanted me to tell you that the film has been banned in 15—NO—16 different countries, and at least three principalities!”

“And what glorified clumps of rock, dirt, and water have dusted their shoulder at my offensive masterpiece?” the filmmaker asked.

But before the best boy could form a reply, Jean-Michel closed his eyes and waved a hand. “No matter,” he said. “My point has been proved. My work is complete.”

He stood and addressed the crew behind him.


He then smashed a tiny vile of indistinguishable purple liquid on the ground and vanished in a purple haze.

Silence fell upon Olivier’s departed set. The best boy scratched his feathered hair.

“Man,” he muttered before walking off, “That guy was a cunt anyway.”

The filmmaker was right. I was offended—best boys are best scene and not heard.

JvJ’s Right of reply:

RIP Jean-Michel Olivier.

Dropping the C-Bomb

Jakon von jakobson, the lowly quantity surveyor.

I use the title ‘c-bomb’ only in a totally ironic manner here. If the c-bomb was in fact ordinance, it would closely resemble a spud gun. Fun to play with but ultimately ineffective way to shock, awe and impress your enemies. You are holding testament to how inoffensive the c-bomb is in your sweaty little hands right now—what self-respecting magazine would publish something offensive?

Rather than writing some boring screen-play-esque novella, it is best to address the issues here. So, in perfect quantity surveyor-type prose, please survey these reasons why the c-bomb is in no way offensive.

Constituent parts

Words are made up of letters. None of which on their own cause offense. Here is a short run-down of the letters involved in the making of the c-bomb.

U: twenty-first letter in the latin alphabet. Used in words such as uvula (twice!), unanimous and is the first letter in the United States of America, the strongest country on Earth and the country in which Dr Dre resides.

T: Twentieth letter in the latin alphabet, the most commonly used consonant in English. A little known fact about the letter T is that one time it was missed out of an important document. This directly led to the charge of the light brigade.

C: Third letter of the latin alphabet, famous for being in words like cereal, Craccum and Caclin.

N: Fourteenth letter in the Latin alphabet, second most commonly used consonant after T. Often overlooked when choosing initials for small children.


/ˈkʌnt/—kun – t.

It starts off like fun, gun or run. Also sounds like Mike Hunt. It also sounds like bunt, the act of hitting a baseball lightly; runt, the smallest rapper of a litter; dunt, A dull-sounding blow to the back of Olivier’s head; Gunt, a river in Tajikistan, hunt, pursue for food or sport, junt, an unrolled joint made with a mix of tobacco & cannabis just like Dr Dre smokes, lunt; A slow-burning match or torch; munt, fuck shit up; nunt, jewish pastry; punt, kick. None of these words are offensive even though they all sound pretty darn similar to the c-bomb.


Carl von Clausewitz or Jack Dempsey or perhaps Gandhi said “The best defence is a good offence,” which of course means that if you want to make friends and/or influence people, you have to insult them. That is the obvious conclusion.

Historical usage

Supposedly comes from a street name where prostitutes used to hang out, but if you go back even further it was an actual anatomical term that derived from a word that meant blossoming flower.

Many famous people have used the c-bomb, here are but a few:

Geoffrey Chaucer.
Robbie Burns.
James Joyce.
Jane Fonda.
Dr Dre.
Jean-Michel Olivier, the well known unknown script writer.

When used in art, like the pretentious attempt on the opposite page, it seems to be okay. So why not in every day parlance?

Oh, it already is, you say?


Many feminist movements like to use the word. Kind of like how African American rappers can say n-word, the gays can say the f-word, dykes can say dyke, people of an orange hair colouration can say ginge and student journalists can say nubs. Many young people and emos have started using the term in such forums as Manners Mall, and not just to describe female genitalia. The c-bomb has been used to describe all manner of things, from the editor of this magazine to a sailor’s cap—it is even a colloquial unit of measurement.


Cock is another four-letter word that starts with C that is deemed only mildly offensive. It’s meaning refers to male genitalia, as does cock, schlong, willy and dick. Vagina, vulva and box are also not offensive

Words have as much power as you give them. Meanings change and it is quite apparent that this particular word is no longer offensive.

J-MO’s Rebuttal:



About the Author ()

Kia ora, biography box, kia ora.

Comments (2)

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  1. cherie says:

    Recently Bea Arthur of the Golden Girls was celebrated by friends and colleagues. she was quoted as once saying “Rue, I love. Betty White’s a cunt!”
    It’s a compliment… Therefore, It depends on the context the word is used in… eg.. JJW is a cheating cunt… that has negative connotations. Betty White is a cunt… positive connotations.

  2. Jackson Wood says:

    Thanks cherie for your wonderful insight, what a good cunt.

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