When was the last time you heard someone hurl one of the following cusses at someone?
Son of a B***h
Mine was just a few minutes ago.
"Such a m*****f*****g c**t," one guy said to the other guy. I was right there. Chances are, you've heard it too; maybe you even used it. It's all casual, no?
Can you guess what do all these words have in common? Women. Even when they’re used on men, it’s always about the women.
I like the occasional swearing. God knows it’s liberating. But, I do have a bone (or a nerve, in this case) to pick with those who use female genitalia as cuss words, specifically, ‘pussy’ and ‘cunt’, to insult someone for appearing seemingly weak, shy, timid or scared.
How often have you heard the words ‘Pussy’ and ‘Cunt’ thrown about to describe someone—usually, a man—who might come across as docile or ‘feminine’? Too often.
It could be a drinking game. But, it shouldn’t. And honestly, anyone with a little bit of common sense wouldn’t even ask ‘why’. But, let’s break it down, nevertheless, shall we?
The vagina can produce an entire 8 pound (or heavier) human being through the birth canal and be absolutely fine!
According to a study on the Biomechanics of Vaginal Birth and Common Sequelae, the pelvic floor muscles involved during birth can stretch more than thrice the normal amount. In fact, a lot of times, women experience vaginal tears during childbirth—and it’s actually normal. More than 79 per cent women experience tearing, or may even require an incision, called episiotomy. But, so resilient is our vagina that it heals on its own. In fact, the ample supply of blood around our vaginas cause it to heal quicker than most other body parts.
Meanwhile, if an erect penis is so much as bent suddenly, it can be fractured.
Vaginas, on the other hand, can do some heavy duty weightlifting.
Forget kegels; Tatyana Kozhevnikova—a Russian gymnast and mother—holds the record for having the world’s strongest vagina. Being able to lift nearly 31 pounds with her crotch muscles, even earned her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2013. In fact, Kozhevnikova even patented the workout, called Intimate Gymnastics that helped her vagina recover post childbirth.
How she does it?
By inserting a wooden egg—wrapped in a condom, for safety—into her vagina, that Kozhevnikova grips the same way we would while doing our kegels. The egg then has a rope on one side that is then attached to the weight.
And in case you needed proof, here’s a video of her ‘doing it’.
Did you know your vagina can actually do entire workouts of its own to stay fit and healthy? Vaginal weightlifting, in and of itself, is aimed at training the pelvic floor muscles, as well as increasing the blood flow to the genitals.
A strong pelvic floor can further ease the symptoms of stress urinary incontinence, prevent or treat uterine prolapsed, as well as prevent leakage during childbirth and improve your core post pregnancy.
The most a penis can lift is itself. And even then it needs someone’s help to ‘get it up’.
Pro Tip: Next time, don’t ask a woman ‘Do you even lift?’ Honestly, you’re only insulting yourself at this point.
Vaginas are twice as sensitive as penises and somehow still stronger than a penis.
While penises have some 4,000 nerve endings, the clitoris has 8,000. That’s just the clitoris, the rest of a woman’s pelvic area has another 15,000 nerve endings. Vaginas feel twice (if not more) as much as penises do and somehow, men being able to stimulate a woman even remotely is an accomplishment achieved by a few.
Sure, penises have sperm that are important to having babies, but in 2008, scientists in Japan discovered that cells taken from menstrual blood could be cultivated in a lab and used to repair damaged heart tissue.
The research, published in the scientific journal, Stem Cells, further explained that menstrual blood apparently contains precursos cells, known as mesenchymal cells (MMCs), that can be used to develop cardiac stem-cell therapeutic material, and these cells appear to have greater potential for this than cells from bone marrow.
The point I’m trying to make should be quite clear by now. The vagina isn’t just powerful as a metaphor used in modern feminist culture. It’s one of the strongest parts of female anatomy; or any anatomy for that matter. So, you see how using words like ‘Pussy’, ‘Cunt’, or ‘Vagina’ itself as insults are quite contradictory.
Au contraire, the phallic symbol alone has—since time immemorial—been associated with some skewered sense of power when, in fact, it is quite obviously one of the most fragile parts of the body. (Beginning to see where the term ‘fragile masculinity’ comes from).
Did you know that just tapping a guy slightly on the balls can make him infertile? That’s exactly how fragile the penis and, by extension, the male genitalia is. So, how come we don’t associated words like ‘dick’ and ‘cock’ with signs of weakness, or frailty? Wouldn’t that make more sense, anatomically speaking?
Instead we’ve been fed a narrative of history, religion and socio-cultural dynamics where the female genitalia is supposed to be the submissive, feminine and therefore, the weaker of the two.
And here’s where it gets interesting: The word ‘pussy’ itself can mean different things, by dictionary definition.
According to Miriam-Webster, the first—and by interpretation, most obvious—meaning of the word ‘pussy’ is cat. The second is the vulva—the female sexual organ. One of the other definitions happens to be the slang—meaning a wimp or a coward.
But where does the slang usage of the word originate from?
While the first known usage of the word itself can be traced back to a very medieval 1699, the word in recent times has never been used to denote a cat, and almost always sexually, or insultingly.
Case in point: Donald Trump’s phrase, most popularly. But, also in locker rooms or group chats almost every day. ‘Bro, why you such a pussy?’ ‘Stop being such a pussy!’ You get the gist. However you see it, pussy is a slang word and an insulting one at that. Especially since its very usage contradicts how a vulva functions.
Then, there’s the word ‘pusillanimous’, which means showing a lack of courage or determination; timid. And, according to a few Quora and Reddit forums, ‘pussy’ is just a shortened form of the word.
Now, while this does make a little more sense, it still doesn’t address how, or why ‘cunt’ is used as a replacement for ‘pussy’ in an insult. Sure, historical sources and linguists try to dig deep into the origins of these words and why they are used the way they are today. It still doesn’t change the fact that it is—at its core—problematic and even unsubstantiated. So, it’s got to be the mindset then, and the fact that scriptures and most surviving scrolls and texts of ancient years have been written from a patriarchal lens.
When Donald Trump’s ‘Grab ‘em by the pussy’ resounded during his campaign days’, it was nothing more than an age-old mindset that reduced women to nothing more than vaginas, or objects of sexual satisfaction.
But, the vagina is actually an all-powerful entity, in and of itself. It doesn’t even need the actual presence of a penis to create life on this planet. So, technically, you can’t really reduce a woman to her vagina, but, you can reduce a man to his penis - just stating.
So what is this archaic obsession with dehumanizing women to feel better about one’s self? For that matter, what is it about comparing men to women—or even women to women—that makes it somehow insulting?
We say things, like, ‘He runs like a girl’, ‘He fights like a girl’, ‘He dresses like a girl’. What’s so bad about doing anything like a girl when it’s clearly been established that girls—and women, in general—have the capacity to ensure more pain than men do; something that is scientifically proven, thanks to childbirth and menstruation. Let’s not even go into the torture and trauma that is inflicted on women. To an extent, one might even say women are the stronger sex in many regards. So, why, again, is it that we casually use and abuse cuss words that are targeted at women, to insult others or make someone feel superior?
So, the next time, you call someone a ‘pussy’, ‘cunt’, ‘vagina’, or any other woman-targeted cuss word, you might want to remember one tiny fact—that the female reproductive system and even women in general are stronger than most men or their penises would ever be.
And if that isn't enough, know that the vagina has the ability to trap a penis inside if it wants. Gynecologist Michael Krychman, M.D., calls this phenomenon penis captivus.
Ergo, the pussy grabs back.
Art by Dessidre Fleming