We’re all aware of the effect of language in shaping reality and creating and perpetuating hierarchies, social inequalities etc. Too often words enter our vocabulary that we dismiss as embellishments to our language that are a necessary by product of everyday association with popular culture. Words with connotations that, if not a direct impact on the immediate neighbourhood, perpetuate a language and culture of suppression and violence in the larger contexts.
Here I’m solely focusing on the effects of gendered swear words and their implications on the perception by/of women. This is an attempt to map out some of the most commonly used gendered cuss words alphabetically, one for each letter. Some of these are new to me, however most are disturbingly familiar.
In the course of, research, the general trend of swear words involved variations of labels for the many sexual acts/sexual organs. The most common of which, needless to say, were female sexual organs. Various words denoting the female gender also seemed to suffice as swear words. Homosexuality, also, was directly denounced in the way it was approached through its recurrence in swear words. The other commonly used cuss words fell into the category of words denounced as racist.
Following is a list I came up with, of the relatively more common swear words:
A – Axwound/ Anus(more commonly, Anal)
Axwound serves as a euphemism for a red vagina. The anus is the opening at the end of the alimentary canal through which waste matter leaves the body.
B – Bitch
Literally, it translates to a female dog. It is generally taken to mean a spiteful/vengeful woman.
C – Clit
Clit is short for the clitoris.
D – Douche
Douche is basically a shower of water. I don’t know how that got to be a swear word, but then again the offensiveness of most of these words seems to elude me. The only explanation I can come up with for this word to be denounced is its possible association with vaginas, as in vaginal douche/vaginal shower/vagina cleaner.
G – Gooch
The perineum. The area between the anus and the scrotum/vulva. I’ve never heard of it before either, thank god.
H – Hoe/ Hussy
Literally, a hoe is a gardening tool used for weeding. It is used to mean a woman. Derogatorily, of course. Then again, when you say woman, a set of qualifiers are instantly implicitly activated. So, a promiscuous woman it is. A hussy refers to an immoral or brazen woman.
K – Kootch/ Kunt
Kootch (or cooch) refers to the vagina i.e. where the penis/vibrator would be inserted. Kunt particularly refers to the vulva, part of the female genitalia. Kunt is also spelt as cunt.
L – Lesbo/ Lezzie
Lesbo/Lezzie are variations for lesbian. It refers to a woman sexually interested in/ attracted to other women.
M – Motherfucker/ Muff/ Minge
Literally, a motherfucker refers to someone who has intercourse with his/other people’s mothers. A variation to this one is sisterfucker, someone who has intercourse with his sister. It is used to denote an unpleasant/despicable person or thing. Muff is used as a slang word for vagina(big surprise). It is also used as an abbreviation for Mandatory Unattractive Female Friend. Minge is slang for a woman’s pubic hair/genitals.
P – Pussy
It can alternately refer to a cat or the vulva. Because of course they’re very similar things. Of course. It is also used to refer to someone timid.
Q – Queef
Queefing is the sound of air gushing out of the vagina. It frequently occurs during sex and is known as vaginal flatulence. It takes place due to the air build up during the penis insertion. A queef, then, is a “vaginal fart”.
S – Slut/ Skank
A slut is a woman who has intercourse often/ who has many sexual partners. Skank is essentially a dance style. It is a derogatory term for females used to imply poor hygiene, tackiness etc. It is also used to imply promiscuity.
T – Tits/ Twat
Tits refer to a woman’s breasts. Twat is slang for a woman’s genitals.
V – Vagina/ Vajajay/ Vjayjay
This one is self explanatory. To provide an anatomical definition, it is the passage leading from the opening of the vulva to the cervix of the uterus in female mammals. The vagina is alternately referred to as vajayjay or vjayjay.
W – Whore
A whore refers to a prostitute and all at once an entire profession is denounced.
The letters left orphan seemed to lend themselves more to swear words derogating homosexuality or other minority groups identified along the lines of race. These I’ve left blank because my primary focus was to outline swear words created along the lines of gender bias.
However even an overview of the words of insult in use make it apparent that almost anything that does not refer to the middle class straight white male is under fire and faces the threat of abuse. All other classes of individuals then form a category of potential victims of mistreatment.