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Posted: 8/20/2004 21:03
Last Updated: 9/15/2008 11:07

What's Wrong With the Word Pussy?
Trae Dorn
Originally Appeared in The Flip Side Volume 1, Issue 12 - May 12th - 25th, 2004
An Open Question to the Mostly Female Campus

If a woman says "cock," "dick," "schlong," "dong," "third leg," "rumpelstiltskin," or whatever colorful euphemism she sees fit, it's socially acceptable. No one yells foul from the top of the highest bell tower. But as I've recently discovered through personal experience, this is not the case when a man says "pussy."

Pussy. Five letters, each on its own harmless and without impact, but you put them together... and oh boy, do you have problems. Yes, it's a slang term for female genitalia, but until recently I've never thought twice about it. You see, it's recently been pointed out to me that the term "pussy" is offensive.

...and this confuses me.

I'm not a complete and total yutz; I do understand that it is a slightly vulgar term. Like the words cock, ass, and shit, it's not something you want to say in front of your grandmother or anything. Honestly though, I wouldn't say the word "vagina" in front of my grandmother, so I don't think this is merely a case of vulgarity.

To those who merely object to the discussion of female genitalia, I am forced to scratch my head in slight disbelief. Human sexuality is a wonderful, natural thing, and to suppress that is unhealthy. Our bodies were designed to work a certain way, and to claim that sexuality or desire is wrong when it involves two consenting adults would be to deny the very purpose of our anatomy and biology. The human body is a wonderful thing. And if you think there is something wrong with discussing its ins and outs, then I don't get you. I don't understand how you could be so ashamed of something so beautiful.

In an odder revelation, I've been told that the term is sexist. Honestly I don't understand this bizarre little twist. Apparently, the sexist argument goes as follows: It's in reference to female genitalia, and it's vulgar.

Yeah, I thought that was pretty stupid too.

I tried to get the person who told me this to explain it to me further, but she sort of left in a huff. I'm not some unreasonable jerk and consider myself a feminist, and am definitely not sexist. Hey, at least I'm progressive enough on issues of gender and biological sex to know that there is a difference. To stand on the sexist stance mentioned above is a cultural double standard as well since, as I pointed out earlier, a woman is free to refer to a male's genitalia in the same manner without incident.

Whenever I think about this subject, I always hearken back to a conversation I had years ago. My friend Anna, who is currently spending her time working in a small village in Mali as a part of the Peace corps, once said to me, "Don't say 'vagina' in front of me - I hate that word. Say 'pussy' or 'cunt', they just sound better." The word "vagina" is a cold one. It says "scientific classification" more than anything else to me. In the heat of the moment, I have never heard anyone say the words "penis" and "vagina," and I seriously doubt that most of you reading this have either. Why do we need to use such formal phrases outside of a textbook anyways? The word pussy has more feeling behind it, and frankly a bit more passion.

And I don't demean a woman when I say "pussy," I merely reference a part of her anatomy. I'm not demeaning myself when I call my mouth a "maw." When I refer to other people's mouths as "maws" I'm not objectifying them either; I have merely chosen a different word to suit the circumstance. I don't think we need to be so overly defensive that we can't use a more colorful word. This is the exact sort of thing that has turned "Politically Correct" into a negative phrase.

So I am left at an impasse. I'm stumped kids, and have no idea what the problem is. So rather than my regular gun and run style story where I just offend someone and hide behind the fact that you don't know who I am, I'm going to do this a little differently. I'm asking you to tell me how I'm wrong. Tell me clearly, succinctly, and in less than 500 words why this word is offensive. Feel free to call me an asshole or whatever insult floats your boat, I won't mind as long as you make sure you back up your position. Normally I'd just ask you to send it to the Flip Side, but since this is the final issue of the semester we wouldn't be able to publish your response. So as an attempt to give my opposition the forum it so richly deserves, I am suggesting a different plan: just send it to me directly and I'll publish it.

Email your answer to me at my e-mail address trh@trhonline.com with the subject line "The Word Pussy". That's right; the elusive Trae Dorn is telling the world where to find him. If your answer is good, then I'll put it up on my website TRHOnline.com. Sure, it's only a couple hundred readers a day, but it's something.

Share your opinion with the world boys and girls, share it with the world.





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