Cunt: A Declaration of Independence

ISBN: 1580050751
ISBN 13: 9781580050753
By: Inga Muscio Betty Dodson

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Currently Reading Favorites Feminism Feminist Gender Non Fiction Nonfiction Sexuality To Read Women

About this book

An ancient title of respect for women, the word cunt long ago veered off this noble path. Inga Muscio traces the road from honor to expletive, giving women the motivation and tools to claim cunt as a positive and powerful force in their lives. In this fully revised edition, she explores, with candidness and humor, such traditional feminist issues as birth control, sexuality, jealousy between women, and prostitution with a fresh attitude for a new generation of women. Sending out a call for every woman to be the Cunt lovin Ruler of Her Sexual Universe, Muscio stands convention on its head by embracing all things cunt-related. This edition is fully revised with updated resources, a new foreword from sexual pioneer Betty Dodson, and a new afterword by the author.

Reader's Thoughts

G.R. Reader

I more or less went down on my knees and begged Inga not to do it, but some people are inherently self-destructive.

Jess

I wanted to like this. I really did.And it started out so great.The blurb talked about how the c word used to be a powerful word for women, so I guess I assumed that the whole book would be analysing the evolution of such a powerful word into one of the worst curse word known. And, well, there's only one chapter on that. One tiny little 5 page chapter. The rest is a misandry-filled rant (I'm sorry, but that really is what it is).Look, Inga and I just have super different views on what feminism means. For Inga, it means completely avoiding everything that males have created, even if it beneficial for women. Take the Pill for example. Inga is firmly against it because males created it and males market the product towards women (she goes by this logic for abortions and tampons/pads/ibuprofen as well) . She says it isn't empowering for women to take the Pill (and poison your uterus, apparently), but it's exactly the opposite: that by taking the Pill, you're relinquishing all your power, giving it to The Men.I dunno, this is the kind of radical feminism I can't get behind. Sure, women haven't had a chance to rise up and make a name for themselves because of the systematic oppression of women, but that doesn't mean one must avoid everything literally man-made in order to fight that. But I guess I believe this because I see feminism as raising women's power to be equal to that of men, whereas it seems that Inga wants women to rule the world. Honestly? I would hate to live in a matriarchy. Hate hate hate. Because it would make us no better than men and their patriarchy. My perfect world is one where women and men live together as equals.It just... It pisses me off how much misandry is in this book. It is literally just full on misandry.And I feel that this book is problematic. If a newbie at feminism picked this book up, looking to learn something about feminism, they would come away with the stereotype of the angry man-hating feminist in their mind. Feminists, even the tame ones like me, who simply want equality, already have a bad name and image. We're seen as angry women who hate men and want women to rule the world, and we're so angry, and we hate men a little bit more, and ARGH, MEN ARE SO YUCK. That's literally what happens in this book. I don't think I would recommend this book to someone new at feminism, someone who doesn't know what it's all about. Perhaps this would be more geared towards the more radical feminists.Also, fun parts that made me rage super hard:- Inga doesn't believe in medicine or doctors. She believes that Doctors don't actually do anything, and the only way to heal anything is to will it. If you will it hard enough, anything can happen. (Apparently that's how she gave herself an abortion: by willing it to happen. No, it wasn't the herbal supplements that did it, never. It was willing it super hard.) TW: RAPE -Ditto with getting raped. If you're in a situation where you might be raped, just will yourself to beat up the rapist and not be raped, and it should work. You don't need self-defence classes, they don't really do anything if you don't have the will to not be raped. I guess this means that if you got raped, or died of some incurable illness (or even curable), then you mustn't have willed hard enough, so you must have wanted to be raped/die of illness. *sigh*- "The sole reason I am negatively disposed towards the use of barrier methods is that the industry that creates them is not run by women" With the exception of condoms, because men wear condoms. But, ARGHHH. She has the same negative view on hormonal birth control. - Her three suggested forms of birth control are: - Abstinence (but she claims this is unhealthy, so don't do this) - Masturbation (Um... as a form of birth control? Isn't that the same as abstinence?) - Becoming a lesbian. (I won't even touch on how offensive it is for her to say this. Um, not everyone has the pleasure to be a lesbian. Changing sexualities isn't quite as easy as that.)So yeah, her three forms of birth control are great stuff. If you're a heterosexual woman, you're shit outta luck. So yeah, you can see why this book just wasn't for me.

Amber manning-harris

i think everybody in the world should read this book. a straightforward look at how women have been treated through the ages, and how we live our lives in the present day. it opened my mind to issues i am immersed in everyday but continue to take for granted. this book helped me love myself just a little bit more, respect my sisters successes and failures, and to finally come to terms with my mothers raising. if only we could all live in world with more cuntlove in our hearts. a book for anyone with a mother, grandmother, sister, girlfriend, or daughter.a work of masterpiece.

Lindsay

I'll admit, I picked up this book solely because of the title, but what this book seemed to be about was what made me buy it. What I THOUGHT I was gonna read was a long, detailed history of the word "cunt" and how it's meaning and connotations have changed over the course of its history. This was how the book seemed to be marketed, since that was mostly what the little back-cover blurb focused on. Since this is one of my favorite words in any language, and since I'm a whore for language in general, obviously I thought this was going to be a great read. Unfortunately, the marketing and reality of the content of the book didn't quite pair up. Even after reading it, I'm not sure I could give an adequate description of the overall point this author is trying to make. The word origin section is the shortest section in the book, and it's completely lacking in concrete details. The rest of the book lacks clear flow, cohesion, and and has the worst editing I have ever seen in a widely-published work, with the most awkward line breaks I have ever seen in anything. This woman is a SUPER feminist, who takes the stance that men aren't needed for anything and that women should just let their period blood flow down their legs every month. Also, I had a hard time reconciling her stance against birth control with her detailed descriptions of how horrible two of her three abortions were. I don't necessarily fault her as a person for that, but it's not quite the same path of girl-power I myself tread. Overall I found this book completely alienating, both in content and presentation.

Patrick

Want to know about vaginas? This is your book. After reading this book, I would often brag to girl friends of mine that I probably knew more about their vaginas than they did. I would then proceed to WOW them with my vag-tastic knowledge. I think though, that in the 4 years since I have read this book, there has been quite an adjustment to the learning curves of women interested in their own crotches. Or, maybe I have been hanging out with girls who are more and more vagina-savvy. Whenever I was reading this book in public, complete strangers would approach me and ask what the book was about. When I told them that it was about exactly what the title said it was, and that it was a work of non-fiction, they often had trouble believing me. Alas, the majority of subject matter in this book is actually about tha vajayjay...This may sound boring, but the entire book is actually quite intriguing. Inga Muscio also has a very unique sense of humor that had me laughing quite often. As some of the material in this book is coming closer to common knowledge for more informed females of this century, it may be more important for males to read this book, although there are definitely tidbits that females will be surprised by. Want to be entertained through a unique and thorough view of a extremely common subject, look no further than your lap... where this exciting book by Inga Muscio should be...

Conor

I picked this up at the book bin and upon bringing it home my roomate informed me "Don't read that, it'll just make you hate women." This probably resulted in my reading it much faster.At any rate, I didn't get much of a shock from this book. The main section is a polemic full of body love, fairly common feminist ideas,a swarming heap of anecdotes, and goddess worship. My feeling on that was "ok" given a) how much more reasonable and crowd-appealing it is than something like the S.C.U.M. Manifesto and b) how much less reasonable it is than all the other feminist material I've read.I could pick it apart more, but I won't bother: there's a lot of critical reviews of the book on here by women already that hit pretty much every point I could think of.Well, except that I think Muscio should probably have stated earlier in her book that she's got no medical background and that her education is limited her her MacBook (with internal modem!) That might have stopped this review from happening: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...THAT MAN KNOWS ALL ABOUT YOUR LADY BITS! ALL.ABOUT.THEM.

Penelope

I finished 'Cunt' a while back, but I wanted to take the time to let the content sink in before I reviewed it. 'Cunt' was quite the struggle to read through. Most of the content was interesting and although I didn't always agree with the author, it raised a lot of questions within me. Muscio's writing style however was less to my tastes. On several occasions I groaned at her way of wording things and her usage of words such as "lordisa" and "fucken ayyy" were annoying. What becomes really obvious when reading 'Cunt' is that is a book written by a woman for other women. I don't think Muscio tries to hide that the audience she tries to reach is the biologically female. If you are a guy, you have no business reading this book. Sure, you can, but her intention was not to educate men on the matter of the 'cunt' as well. Her main motive was to turn other women into 'cunt-loving women' too.Another thing that really bothered me was that in one of the first chapters she goes as far as to say that the one thing all women have in common is that they have a 'cunt'. But gender is not that easily defined and by saying this she forgets to mention just about all transgendered people who identify as women. She "fixes" this however in one of the added chapters at the end of the book's second edition. Despite the added chapter, I'm still not quite pleased with how she addressed this problem.I have a lot more issues with her book, but her need to seperate the male from the female and vice versa was the one thing that irked me the most. I don't believe in a feminism that excludes men.On the other hand, the book's not all bad. Believe it or not, but I learned a lot about the female genitalia school did not teach me and thanks to Muscio I stopped using the term 'vagina' and am instead using 'cunt' and I might even start keeping track of the lunar calendar. I still think it was an interesting book to read and I don't regret reading it, because although I did not agree with her on everything it did allow me to disagree and come to my own conclusions.

Steven

I read the first edition in high school and it was a complete paradigm shift for me -- it completely opened my eyes to looking at the world through a more critical lens in regards to socialization, power structures as they relate to historical context, and the harsh reality of women (as well as the privileges I had enjoyed up to that point in my life being male, gay or not). During high school, this book's impact was nothing less than a foundational block of my worldview.This expanded and updated second edition primarily has an addendum: an afterword where Muscio addresses how her thinking on the subject has expanded, especially as she received questions from admirers of her book about the position (or lack therof) of transwomen in her womanifesto. Having her delve into the issue of transpeople and gender nonconformity, especially after I've befriended many transpeople after high school, was very refreshing. In fact, even though this time around for me I was more dubious of several parts of the original text, I enjoyed the book more entirely because of the issues she addresses in the afterword. Her inclusivity of more people on the margins (or on the margins of the margins) as well as many added comments on the need for alternative news sources and an examination of the widespread nature of abuse in American society mirrors my own evolution of thought and experience.The original text is still a good read, and even though some of it is not always logical or sometimes ventures into impractical ideals veering astray into lost woods, it still contains many important nuggets for everyone to consider about themselves and their relation to our society. I almost wish she could revise the original work and introduce the new thoughts in the afterword into the appropriate places, but it's still a good addition.

Tiffany

Check out this review on my blog, Textual Orientation.Cunt provokes. Cunt is hard to swallow. Cunt requires an open mind.The marketing language is true: if you have a cunt, you should read it. I’ve read some scathing reviews of the book, and I’d be interested in getting a better sense of how it was initially received when it was released. This is the type of book you need to sit with for a while rather than pounce on, because Muscio’s positions are not easy to digest. She ignorantly claims that women should avoid all western medicine because most of it was invented by men. She advocates for the public humiliation of all men who have been accused of rape, sometimes based on hearsay alone. For me, the forehead-smacking climax happened when Muscio describes her self-induced abortion using pennyroyal, blue cohosh root, and a lot of meditation — without mentioning that the pennyroyal dose required for an abortion can be fatal or cause kidney and liver damage. True story.So it may come as a surprise when I say I loved the book. But I didn’t enjoy it because I agree with all of Muscio’s views. I liked it because it provides me with language to express my own feminist beliefs, which are in a state of perpetual development. Radical feminism may have a bad reputation, but I’m a strong believer in its important role in advancing gender equality. And oh my, does it ever rub my cunt the wrong way when people, women especially, tell me there is no longer a place in society for radical feminism. Yes, there is.Where Cunt succeeds is in its core message: women should re-focus on forming a united front. Prior to women having as many rights as we do now, first and second waves of feminism demanded a rock-solid bond among large female groups to succeed in gaining equality. (Not saying all camps were united, but still.) Now, among a new generation of women who have more basic human rights, the term “feminism” has somehow been tainted; I think links between women have been fractured as a result. This is why I’m happy to see initiatives like Duke University’s Who Needs Feminism? project, which strives to correct misconceptions that modern-day feminism is somehow unnecessary or negative.Cunt‘s chapter on rape is especially enlightening. I’m paraphrasing here, but some of the most poignant lines in the book describe how a man can rape a woman and sacrifice a coffee break, yet when a woman is raped, several generations of women are affected. If a mother is raped, she raises her child in an environment where that has happened. There is something very, very wrong about that distribution of power, and I see that imbalance spilling over into other areas of women’s lives. Whether severely damaging or relatively benign, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to state that every woman has at one point felt powerless at the hands of a man/men, whether it be in the workplace, walking down the street, in a marriage, or as mothers relying on expensive daycare so they can work outside the home. When I think of all the ways women still struggle for equality, I can’t argue against Cunt‘s solid position on essential feminist reading lists.If you have a cunt, read this book. If you don’t have a cunt, read this book to gain a better understanding of your friends, relatives, and lovers who have cunts. I look forward to reading Muscio’s latest, Rose: Love in Violent Times, which was released last year. In it, Muscio explores how rape and the destruction of the earth are interconnected, a basic principle of the ecofeminist movement. I’m a total newbie to this theory, and I look forward to Muscio’s work ushering me into the sphere. Expect a review later in the year.

Amnesia

A major thing to keep in mind about this book is its passion -- it is an undoubtedly passionate book. However, I think that same passion -- particularly when it works itself into a fine red rage -- may also be debilitating in its attempt to communicate. While leafing through various reviews, from the enamored to the loathing, the best phrase that comes to mind as a characterization of the book is this: "Just one good, long rant from an out-spoken girl friend."In part, I am inclined to agree. This book does not profess itself as formal or scholarly, but rather, accessible to a particular audience -- young feminist women, between late high school to early university level. Or so those are my thoughts. If the author's note of the second edition doesn't tip you off as to the informal nature of the book ("All that said, the author continues to be free to talk some serious shit.") then you're probably in for a surprise with an ample peppering of cuss words and slang. And I think, to expect the book to be formal when it clearly never thought of itself as such, is unfair -- ad hominem in nature if people are attacking Muscio's style rather than her ideas which, in the vein of essay-writing, is more important than say, a literary style. But eh, I guess for some people it's just that important on an individual level.In regards to the ideas themselves, Muscio covers a wide variety of subjects. Acknowledging the fact that there are probably hundreds, even thousands of books, articles, and journals written every year on any one of the individual topics that Muscio covers -- from language to the body to abortion to rape -- I would say it is unfair to expect a narrow expertise that details the ins and outs of any one topic. Sacrificing depth for variety, Muscio's work is, again, good for introductory purposes but still riddled with many gaps. Muscio acknowledges some of these gaps in her afterword of the second edition, specifically in regards to the case of transgendered individuals, but not, in my personal view, all of them. Anyway, onto my actual thoughts of the book itself. Returning to passion, the keystone of this work, it left with me two very strong impressions. One is Muscio's unconditional love and support for the self-empowerment of women. Reconciling the language to be more favorable and inclusive of women, reconciling sexuality and body, advocating for strongly grass-roots movements where action is the cornerstone of this empowerment -- all of this strikes me as nothing but an extolling the value of loving and protecting oneself with all the hippie flavor. On the other hand, it's almost a shock to see this genuine, zealous affection turn to such inspired loathing. While Muscio explicitly states that she does not hate men in both her original publishing and in her second edition, a reader would be hard-pressed to be convinced of the validity of those statements through the greater portion of the book. In her lack of specificity as to who exactly she is leveling her anger at -- rapists and corporate CEOs aside -- she comes across as being quite intolerant of that other half of the population with whom all women must communicate and interact with on a daily basis. As Muscio herself says, "It takes two to tango." At the same time, I think Muscio's wholesale, blind support of women, based solely around that gender identity, neglects to take into account individuality for both men and women. Supporting women-based industries by the sheer fact that they are female-centered -- automatically assuming that, because women are the leaders of these businesses, they will automatically have in mind the welfare of their workers/consumers based on the common thread of gender -- is a noble thought in its suggestion but takes a broad brush to fine lines of distinction. While she touches on the importance of money and realizes the overarching influence of capitalism, the full extent of this juggernaut economic structure and its impact in relation to gender barely touches the tip of the iceberg in Muscio's 'Cunt'. Then again, as I've mentioned before, variety in place of depth is one of the major features of this book. Muscio's book is a genuine and honest effort at calling attention to the structures and ways in which women have yet to achieve complete equality with relation to our fellows on the other side of the gender divide, an effort which I can appreciate in itself. Nevertheless, there are many points of divergence in opinion between Muscio and myself and thousands of others who have read 'Cunt' -- but isn't that always the case with feminism? This is the sort of book that I can see being used in an introductory manner, inciting grassroots activism, but for the more discerning and critical in gender studies, I would recommend something of a different caliber.

Samantha

i was reading this book and a middle-aged woman, accompanied by her husband, on the subway, asked me (timidly) what I was reading. I smiled and shrugged and flashed her the cover. She giggled. "I saw the title of the chapter," she said. I flipped back a few pages to see what the title of the chapter was. In big, bold print I saw it: "Blood and Cunts." I giggled. The middle aged woman giggled. Together, we giggled. For the sake of interactions like this, everyone should read this book in public, all the time.

Maura

What I appreciated most about this book was the afterward, updated several years after the initial publication, and reflecting much maturity. For me it was by far the best part of the book, and we see how the author has broadened her scopes and become less reliant on unnecessary crutches (excessive use of 'cuntified' vernacular, cutesy segues...)My biggest complaint with this book is what I felt was a dismissive presentation of 'whoredom' (class and societal pressures that inform the decision to enter into sexual prostitution). I felt the primacy she gave towards the sex-goddess slant was unbalanced and immature.All that said, it was a book that prompted thought, discussion and action, and continues to do so, and that is always good.

Lucrezia

The title may be offensive, until you are educated on the origin of this now westernized term to degrade women. Inga has her moments that can definitley be considered extreme. Or maybe just crazy. :). Or possibly even not very, well, hygenienic....but she is also strong and intelligent, and perfect in her ability to be a strong self empowered woman. It is amazing to see how a women can be happy and self efficient when so many individuals of other generations, or cultures, can view a seperate gender as weak or not capable. Inga addresses these issues through various marketing that triggers women to be nothing more than commercialized materialistic drones. The way the government has still yet to give equal pay to women who are efficient and competetive, and they way we are addressed overall through a world of cultures. Again, there are ways that Muscio may come off extreme, but that is necessary in order to communicate an idea to our otherwise kahki life style, and really, what brilliant mind isn't a little crazy?

Amberly

I certainly appreciate Inga's passion and her motivation behind this book. And I love the title. However, I don't agree with a few of her thoughts; her view that we should only support businesses owned and operated by women, that we should live in fear and constantly suspect leering men of rape, her flippant view of abortion, and her credo to band together as women, and support each other no matter how much you might not personally like some chick. Well foo on that. There are plenty of corrupt and horrible women (some I've even worked for), who do not deserve anyone's support. I laughed at anyone who told me they would vote for Hillary simply because she's a woman - that's the same as some uneducated male voting for some prick simply because he has one. When I was young I saw on the evening news, a woman, some jogger in New York Central Park, was accosted, and they interviewed her from her hospital bed. The attacker had a knife, she was cut up pretty good, but they were all defensive wounds - she fought her attacker off. I'll never forget what she said. "He thought he was going to rape me!!?" It was her demeanor and attitude that struck me. She was more pissed off that anyone would assume they could get the better of her, than the knife wounds and many bandages. She ruled. That made an impression on my young mind, far, far more than seeing all the females in my life putting rocks into their pockets before they go for a bike ride ever could. I would have also loved if Inga did some hardcore research into the word 'cunt' (with some cited references), and gave us a more thorough linguistic history, instead of the general listing of bygone cultures.

jessica

I have a story about this book:When I was in college I worked at Barnes and Noble and I happened to be working in receiving when this book arrived. I pulled a stack of Cunts out of the box and asked the older, more conservative gentleman that I was working alongside a question about...where the book went or something, I can't remember exactly. He promptly gathered the Cunts up and said "This is what we do with books like this" and dumped them in a box of books to be returned to the publisher. He said they were inappropriate, we couldn't shelve them. I decided to raise hell. I gave my manager a talking to about censorship then I shortlisted 10 more of them and put them on the staff rec shelf next to the Vagina Monologues. They stayed there until a customer complained. Having said that all that, I actually only read part of this book, I thought it was a little lame and I'm tired of people trying to "reclaim" words.

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