As cast members and friends of the Vagina Monologues, we would like to address some previously expressed points of concern and confusion regarding the annual V-Day events, particularly its advertising campaign. Why do we insist upon writing so-called “obscene” phrases and “posting advertising fliers that border on the pornographic”?
First, let’s investigate why people are so disturbed by our use of the words “cunt,” “pussy,” “cooter,” “coochie,” and other so-called obscene references to the female anatomy. Why would we want to use these words that for so long have been used to victimize and degrade women?
It’s no accident that words describing our “down there” are used by men against women and against men. Haven’t you ever heard a man call another man a “pussy,” likening him to a woman? Why is it bad to be considered womanly?
The word “cunt” has been twisted far from its original celebration of womanhood into something demeaning: ancient Sumerian writing was called “cuneiform,” a word which derives from “kunta,” meaning woman or female genitalia; this word was also spelled “quna,” the root of “queen.” Since it was priestesses who kept the records of the Temple of Inanna in Sumeria circa 3100 B.C., it is highly likely that “cuneiform” was “the sign of the kunta” who kept the books (clay tablets) for the temple economy/redistribution of wealth that evolved from communal economics of ancient mother cultures (source: Stone Age Divas and the Origins of Civilization by Gloria Bertonis, M.Ed.).
As explained in the 2003 program for the Monologues, “when an abuser calls a woman a ‘cunt’ he is actually calling her a ‘queen who invented writing and numerals.’ Girls and women can thus reclaim the words in our language that have been used as weapons against us.”
By using the words “pussy” and “cunt,” we are reclaiming them as our own: we are taking them back from pejorative use and redefining it on our own terms. We use these words to draw attention to their misogynistic and homophobic appropriations.
Secondly, we would like to address the meanings and messages within the Monologues that have been misunderstood. For instance, they have nothing to do with hating men, but everything to do with women’s empowerment: EMPOWERED WOMEN DON’T NEED TO HATE MEN.
The problem is not that we write “cunt” on the sidewalk: the problem is that we live in a culture where violence against women – even verbal violence such as calling a woman a cunt, or calling a man a pussy – is perceived as acceptable.
Yet drawing it on the sidewalk to raise awareness is not?
People need to stop complaining about the words we use to end violence against women and focus on the fact that it’s a reality for millions worldwide.