Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Shout Out to INGA MUSCIO, author of CUNT (2002)

From feministing, I see that the BBC is going to do a documentary on the "c-word." The article cited mentions the Vagina Monologues, which was ground breaking to be sure.

But -- no mention of Inga Muscio's amazing book Cunt. That is just wrong. If you are going to do a documentary on the historical use of the word CUNT, and an author has written a book -- now in its second printing (Seal Press, 2002) -- titled "Cunt," which explores the history of the word you are documenting and entertwines this information with memoir and current cultural references and political activism, well maybe you should take your hat off to said author.

I hope that I get to see the documentary, and it will turn out that the BBC has featured Muscio as one of the main speakers, and I am completely off base.

So, welcome to my first "Underappreciated Read Sunday." This book is an odd choice for me to put up on an academic blog. It isn't scholarly per se, although it is very informative and involves a decent amount of historical research. The language is colloquial and often "off-color". There is some TMI that may make some readers squirm. It's also one I consider "book as medicine," energizing and interesting. I own both editions, and reread the book slowly during the hard part of my divorce. If you are a woman having a hard time, and if you identify as liberal and pro-choice (pro-life women won't find much common ground), this book will be wonderful for you.

3 comments:

Experimentaholic said...

This is a tangent - I used the word "fuck" in a lecture the other day and already someone complained to the dean. The word was in reference to A 8 year old prostitute in Cambodia who was having sex with a man for money. What other fucking word do you use? She is copulating with this man? She is having sex with this man? No. She is being fucked by this man. But my students - the majority of whom are catholic - simply can't take the word fuck in the classroom even though they use it themselves and go to R rated movies. I guess I will G-ify my course. But I skimmed the book on cunt. I didn't really feel anything - it is not a word I have every really used because it is a bit too far off color, and I never to my knowledge been called a cunt - although I don't doubt that I have!

Dr. O. said...

I agree with the take on the word "cunt". It isn't one I use either, it just feels too icky and obscene. Which is a shame, because evidently it didn't start out that way.

(God knows what I have been called, "cunt" is likely I suspect, at least it hasn't made its way into my ratemyprofessors reactions!)

I try to avoid "fuck" in lectures also for that exact reason. You are right, and none of the students are children. Many of them pepper their speech with that and worse, just walking to lunch after class. But if "fuck" comes out of the mouth of a professor it is seen as horrific. I'm a wuss about it because I don't have tenure. In your case with the 8 year old prostitute, I don't know what I would have said. I likely would have said "screwed", and even that would have made me nervous. If my material allowed it, I would have gone into coercion and power and inability to consent, and used the word "rape". Gah. That is a rough lecture you had to give, regardless of what language. Someone would have been offended anyhow.

Your dean supportive? Or do you have one of the ones who is so worried about parental approval that he/she will turn professors out?

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