Female bodied people, or those born with female genitalia, are not a minority. They currently stand as 51% of the population in the USA, UK, and most other countries in the world.
Over half the population.
Yet female bodied people whether cisgendered, trans male, or otherwise definitely do not have anything even close to equal social standing with male bodied people.
The default status of women, and of non-passing trans males (who can’t benefit from the male privilege we must acknowledge we gain when we pass) in society is so low, sometimes people see nothing wrong with using that word any right-minded people find vulgar and abhorrent – cunt.
If you are female bodied and you think this doesn’t apply to you, think again. Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, black or white, trans male or cisgendered female, if you were born with a female body there is no escaping it.
The question is what are you going to do about it?
That question must be answered by the collective, by the mass of people who currently make up the entire female bodied population. That’s roughly about half of the world, to give a gentle reminder.
It cannot be answered by any one individual, for although as individuals, we have autonomy over our own lives, we do not have a say in how society sees female bodied people as a whole. As a collective though, if we unite as one, we can demand a sea-change. We can shame misogynistic attitudes, utterances, and actions until they have been violently shoved to the furthest reaches of polite society.
If you’re a female bodied person and you’re reading this, I suppose the essential question you must answer is, do you want that to happen? In case you’re wondering, whether it’s necessary to take this position, I suggest you read on.
What evidence can I present to you to prove this awful status?
Unfortunately the evidence is in plentiful supply. Cunt is typically one of the first insults people reach for when they want to insult someone of the female sex. It is used to denote low status, to reduce female bodied people to nothing more than the sum of their genital parts. Cunt is still considered the most offensive swear word in the English language, the most insulting of all the insults that can be leveled at someone.
Particularly if that someone is female bodied. The word is used to “put women in their place” or to “remind female bodied trans individuals of who or what they are and “keep them down”.
Reclaiming the word is not the answer, though certainly, if you repeat it enough, it might lose some of its power.
It’s not the word that has all the power, as evidenced when the insult is leveled at a man. Does it remove his personhood, strip him of his dignity, humiliate him?
Because he’s seen as a man. Cunt is a very gendered insult, concocted to be at its most potent when directed to those of the female sex. Behind it is a hatred, distrust, and resentment of anyone female bodied, it’s an insult born out of the desire to control, humiliate, and squash any form of agency or female power. If you’re skeptical about this, I ask you- what is the first insult people fling at an unpopular female in the public eye? How much more public vitriol is directed at her, than would be had she been born into a male body?
It’s the current rhetoric for many who are not yet involved with feminism to say, women have equality, but feminists know this is far from true. You don’t have equality because the law says female bodied people can go to work, can study, and can sue for sexual harassment. Equality is only gained when most of society accepts the idea female bodied lives matter. That female bodied lives deserve respect as well as rights.
That’s why now, more than ever, when we live in an age where there is a horrific backlash against the small gains female bodied people have made in our struggle for equality – we need feminism. And we need to unify and take radical action rather than just tweeting empowering stuff, liking feminist Facebook posts and trying to “talk” to our oppressors- if we want to see radical, genuine, and lasting societal change.
Power is never given. It is only gained when it is demanded. As feminists we would do well to remember that and make it one of the central tenets of our attack strategy.