By any other name…

Can we reclaim the C word? It’s considered the most offensive word in the English language… but, as Cat O’Dowd discovers, it’s so much more!

C**t was a cheeky old Anglo Saxon word used to describe female genitalia and pleasure. In 1230 you could walk down “Gropec**t Lane” in London’s red light district. It is a powerful word that got turned into something nasty as female pleasure became something to be feared and controlled. In 1785 the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue defined “c**t” as “a nasty name for a nasty thing.”

What does it say about what our culture thinks about female sexuality if the worst word you can insult someone with is female genitalia? What does it say about our gender relations?

Now we misname all the outer female genitals by the polite and clinical word “vagina”. The original latin meaning for vagina was a passive sheath for a sword. Vagina only refers to the birth canal not the clitoris or internal and external labia. It is only one of our sexual organs not all of them. The correct term for all the female external genitalia is vulva, or c**t!

What words do you use to describe your vulva? Do you use passive slang words like “hole” or “gash” that talk about having something done to it or it being penetrated? Studies have shown a lot of people think that sex is something that is “done to women.” Porn as the main source of sex education for so many people can lead to confused ideas about sex.

Over the past few centuries the vulva and its receptive qualities have became one and the same with passivity. A great analogy is that eating is also a receptive activity but it’s not considered a passive activity.

Our cultural narrative misrepresents female sexuality as passive and docile, whereas women have unlimited orgasmic capacity.

Humans are a very hyper-sexual species compared to other animals that only mate when the female is fertile. The only other animals that mate all cycle long are our closest relatives. These female primates have insatiable sexual desires who mate with many males.

Vaginas are brilliant self cleaning organs with strong muscles that can clutch around a finger, penis or dildo and undulate around it. During orgasms the cervix dips down and “swallows” sperm. Vaginal orgasmic contractions can push out the sperm from one man and suck in another. The ovum actively stretches out and envelopes hesitant sperm. When women are fertile and ovulating research has shown that they are more confident, competitive, their libido is higher and they wear brighter coloured clothes!

My sex education at school only taught me about a passive vagina waiting to have a penis thrust in and out of it to deposit sperm! However, the vagina’s muscles can milk, suck the penis inside, push it out, pulse around it, clench around it and actively create heightened pleasure for their partner and increase the intensity of their own orgasms! As Germaine Greer said, “Lady, love your c**t!”

Words: Cat O’Dowd – Sex Therapist, Relationship Counsellor, Expressive Arts Therapist