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

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.

Leilani

I know a lot of people who loved this book, so maybe I just missed something. I hated reading it because the chick wrote in a way that made it seem like she was the first person to ever come up with any of the points that she made. It was very boring.

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.

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.

Anna

Warning: This book is pretty vulgar. I suppose the title could have tipped you off. Oddly, I expected a more academic book. A look at the word its history and its affect on our society. Muscio is anything but academic. She is an artist, and the book is filled with personal anecdotes and her thoughts on life. There is no stuffy distance between her and her writing. Her approbation of menstrual blood made me uncomfortable (she enjoys watching it splash to the floor). Her retelling of her 3 abortions, the last of which was a supposed triumph of the power of positive thinking and sisterhood, made me really glad I teach about condom use and birth control on a daily basis. But eventually, around the chapter on rape, she kind of won me over. Women come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Some smart, some not. Some weak, others extremely strong. All of us are affected by the extremely violent subjugation that is rape. It limits our freedom, our security and our collective sense of self. I’m willing to bet every woman in America has had some experience with rape. Either personal, or a friend, family member or news story has shaken them. What are almost worse than the act itself are the silence and the shame that go with it. The most obvious counter attack, she explains, is noise. As a united front we need to put our foot down. If a rapist is known, gather 30 women on his front lawn and tell him straight out that his action will not be tolerated. Let everyone at his workplace know what he’s done. Same for spousal abuse, or any act of violence against women. If all women united in this, who would be hiding in shame? I never really thought of myself as a feminist. We are all equal. This book helped me see some of the sexism that still lingers in our society. It showed me that there is work yet to be done in order to obtain our god given equality. That’s enough for me to overlook the sloppy writing style.

Gaijinmama

I can't even type the title because I don't want this review or my blog to be labeled as Adult. Suffice it to say, it's a four-letter word, beginning with C, referring to a body part belonging to half the human race. Interesting, ain't it, that a body part is just about the most offensive word in the English language? I even got yelled at for mentioning the book in public...oh well, guess I shouldn't have brought up the subject in playgroup, LOL! Luckily I live in Japan, so nobody fussed at me when I read it in Starbucks. But seriously, folks...the V word, which is the medical and socially acceptable term for said Anatomical Jewel, originally meant "a sheath for a sword".Ask yourselves, my fellow beings with Double X chromosomes....is that how we want to define ourselves? As Muscio would say, I ain't no sheath.C*** is a comprehensive analysis and meditation upon both the word that offends people so much, and what the author calls "The Anatomical Jewel". It's hard to put down, although sometimes I wanted to--Muscio covers some uncomfortable topics such as abortion, rape, prostitution, and menstruation in graphic detail. Even though I don't agree with her on all topics, she made me think and made me laugh, occasionally grossed me out , and definitely kept my attention. Not least because the author gives a shout-out to the extremely cool Samuel Jackson, yeah it's kind of a 90's reference but I still think he rocks.Written in a direct, conversational tone, this book made me laugh out loud, get pretty angry a few times, and once or twice come close to tears. I highly recommend C...but if you plan to read it in public you might want to get or make a book cover for it!

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.

silchi

The way I felt about Cunt while reading wasn't always completely consistent. While I mostly always enjoyed reading the book itself, I more often than not found myself shaking my head or pursing my lips and sitting there and really thinking about what point Muscio brought up and offered to readers, and where I stood on it (quite often, I couldn't have been further from complete agreement with her).Which, really, I think was the whole point of the book in the first place. It might be that, in fact, Muscio was more intent on getting readers to stop and think than she was in recruiting people to her cause.Also, I was often surprised at how severe her beliefs were. (Which, I think, may have been what made it so hard for me to agree with what she was talking about - she usually had me, until the moment when she took things beyond what I was nodding my head at moments before) For example, when she discusses how she thinks women should deal with rapists or sexual assailants. The actions she suggests, to me, seem to put those women doing them on the same level as the person who raped or assaulted one of them in the first place. If anything, it's just perpetuating the cycle; it's just one kid throwing a rock at another kid who threw a rock at them first, which, in all reality, just encourages that first kid to toss another rock. Muscio seems intent on women doing absolutely everything for themselves, and completely excluding men from their goings-on. I have no problem with women being very independent, but I think that completely shutting the other sex off isn't the way to go. I think cooperation is what's going to improve everything Muscio was dissatisfied with in Cunt.All in all, it was still a very enjoyable read. It made me think: something that, unfortunately, many of the books on the market today lack.

Blair

I have the habit of giving my sister books I think she should read instead of whatever she's actually asked for on normal present-giving holidays. This started with "The Perks of Being a Wallflower", but crossed into more intimate territory with Cunt. I wrote her a note in the cover and gave it to her. She loved it. She wrote a note in the cover and gave it to her friend. I hope the book keeps passing from hand to hand this way. I hope a copy finds you.I've watched the moon daily since reading this book.

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?

Caris

Inga Muscio begins with the origins of the feminine labels utilized in our society and how they used to be positive terms descriptive of a strong sex. From there, she tackles freedom, abortion, rape, self-preservation, self-confidence, gay/lesbian issues, transgender issues, and the problems with America. She's heavy on opinion and light on documentation, but Muscio crafts a compelling argument. I am a white, American male. This book was not written with me in mind. I think I may have gotten more out of it than any tried and true feminist would, though. Feminism is something I have never truly understood. I have never looked at women as anything but equals....at least, I thought I hadn't. This book brings to light all of the subtle wrongness and unfairness and injustice perpetrated towards women that is just accepted as a part of our culture. While I read this, I started looking at things differently. I have greater respect for the power and strength of my wife, my mother, my grandmother, and my friends for simply existing in this society. The section of the book focusing on abortion was revealing. Muscio explains the importance of retaining the right to procedures that are painful, unpleasant, and depressive. In the section on rape, she points out the inherent problem with women in this country feeling "lucky" that they haven't been raped yet. This book is a learning experienced trapped in pages, a guidebook and a call to arms all at once, not just for women, but for all people impacted by the negative social influences running rampant in American society.I wish Muscio would have had references for her facts. I am reluctant to believe anyone's boasts, especially those as dramatic and important as her's. Her writing reads like a blog, filled with too much familiarity and made up words. I never appreciate those features.P.S. I won't say the word because I'm a white male and I don't think I have the right to.

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.

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.

Iz

I wrote this review exactly 6 years ago and posted it on my then-blog. Here's part of it: I don't even know where to begin bitching about this book, so I'll just summarize it chapter by chapter:She advocates that all women should talk to the moon and worship the goddess, as if all feminists are into wishy-washy Wicca rituals (from what I've noticed every 4th word on this book is goddess). She also recommends only reading books written by women and only talking to women and only watching women-made films and only using women-invented appliances for at least one year of your life.She is against abortion (even though she's had 3) AND contraception. She believes that things like the pill and the diaphragm are evil because they were made by men and not by women or the goddess. She believes that when you're in tune with your body, with the moon, and with the goddess, you won't get pregnant if you don't want to, and if you do get pregnant you can have a goddess-induced abortion, taking herbs made by the goddess, getting massages by your goddess-worshipping friends, and thinking really hard about the goddess and your body, so your fetus will miraculously plop out of your body. And if you take the pill (which messes up with your holy goddess hormones) and get "vacuum cleaner" abortions, you're a powerless woman who is under control of men. However, she's ok with condoms, because they were designed by men for men. Huh?She says that women will never have any power or respect in society until we treat whores with the respect that they deserve, because they are the priestesses of the goddess and they have the most important job in the world. That being said, she also thinks that Aileen Wuornos didn't deserve to be in jail.She thinks that women's cunts are the most important part of their bodies. Not only their bodies, but their entire lives. Women's lives should be cunt-centred, all the time, and everything you do should revolve around your cunt - because women's power comes from the cunt and the cunt only, and if we don't use them, we are powerless wimps. So, a woman who is, say, a mathematician, whose life doesn't revolve around sexuality, isn't really empowered. (and apparently she wrote a song after getting very inspired by a man who was asked for a quarter by her friend and he responded, "you don't need a quarter, you got a goldmine between your legs")So, women's lives should revolve around their sexuality. And that's because, she says, women's sexuality is superior to men's sexuality (and no, I'm not misquoting). Because the male sex organ is limited in size, men's sexuality is also limited, and incomparable to the powerful, intricate, goddess-made vulva-vagina-clitoris-uterus-and-everything-else combo. Men's orgasms are consequently inferior to women's orgasms.The above statement is the one and only reason for patriarchy in the world. Men are scared of women's sexuality because it's the most powerful goddess-like thing in the world, and they're so scared they try to dominate it, underplay it, and teach little girls to hate their cunts.She complains that Valerie Solana's SCUM Manifesto is exactly what Aristotle thought about women centuries ago, but Aristotle is admired in society today, while Solanas died homeless... completely disregarding, of course, that Aristotle is from B.C. and we happen to admire people from back then who brought ideas to the world that brought good changes to society, even though they believed in things that are proven to be very silly today. Valerie Solanas lived in the 20th century AD and brought nothing other than SCUM to the world. Needless to say, Inga Muscio admires Valerie Solanas.Once a woman rocker was murdered in Seattle and nobody mentioned she was raped. One year later, Inga found out that the woman was indeed raped. Therefore, every time a woman is murdered now, she will assume that she was also raped, unless she sees the coroner's report herself. Her logic here is precious.She believes it's wrong to make movies about rape that have rape scenes in them, because we don't need to see it. She says that we should cause a ruckus if we want to be heard, so if there's a movie with a rape scene in it, you should buy the ticket with 10 female friends, then start screaming when the rape scene starts, storm out of the theatre, scream some more, and demand your money back.She thinks that men shouldn't be allowed to participate in feminist demonstrations, and they have to understand that. She says that only women can understand the horrors of rape, and if a man acts indignant about a rape, it's only because he's trying to show women what a good non-rapist he is.I could go on, but that's more than enough. In the 2nd edition afterword she acknowledges that transgender and transsexuals deserve respect too, because someone wrote her a letter reminding her that not all women have cunts - which was pretty positive, after recent news of a trans guy being refused entry into a rape crisis counselling centre. Other than that the book was no more than the crap listed above.I've realized that I'm a feminist because I don't like to feel gendered. There are a lot of people the world that make me feel that way, like the most important aspect of my being is the fact that I'm a woman. It seems they just scream at me, gender, gender, GENDER. Everything about you is related to your gender! And that, to me, is utterly annoying. I like to be around people who make me feel like I am a human being. I don't need to feel superior or more powerful than an entire group of human beings just to affirm my identity. Shouldn't this be what feminism is about? Equality, not superiority. Until we collectively admit that this book is pure garbage, feminists will still be seen as man-hating lesbians. I don't want that.

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.

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