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Jesse Schiedlower traces thehistory of swearing from religion to sex and beyond: "Throughout thecenturies, different topics have been considered incendiary atdifferent times. Several hundred years ago, for example, religiousprofanity was the most unforgivable type of expression. In more recenttimes, words for body parts and sexually explicit vocabulary have beenthe most shocking [...] Now, racial or ethnic epithets are the scourge"(1995).

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It is important to note the distinction between changing a word's definition and changing its connotation. Women have sought not to change the definitions of (for example) 'cunt' or 'slut', but instead to alter the cultural connotations of the terms. Thus, the reclaimed word 'cunt' is still defined as 'vagina' and the reclaimed 'slut' still means 'sexual predator'. What have been reclaimed are the social attitudes towards the concepts of vaginas and sexual predators: whereas these once attracted negative connotations, they have been transvalued into positive concepts. In a sense, this is true of a large number of terms which are regarded as positive by some yet as negative by others: for example, 'liberal' is used as an insult by conservatives, and 'conservative' is used as an insult by liberals. Salman Rushdie gives examples of older political terms which have also been reclaimed: "To turn insults into strengths, Whigs [and] Tories [both] chose to wear with pride the names they were given in scorn" (1988). Also, in Thailand, poor farmers protesting against the aristocratic political system wore t-shirts with the word 'prai' ('commoner') as a symbol of pride, in "a brilliant subversion of a word that these days has insulting connotations" (Banyan, 2010). In a similar case, UK politician Andrew Mitchell was accused of calling a police constable a 'pleb', prompting FunkyShirts to produce 'PC PLEB" and 'PC PLEB AND PROUD' t-shirts (2012). After Republicans derided Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as 'Obamacare', Obama himself began using this more concise though originally derogatory term, professing that he liked it.

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Newspaper headlines often use the phrase 'the c-word' to pun on other contentious terms beginning with that letter: "the phrase 'the c-word' is sometimes deliberately used to mean something else, while exploiting the intertextuality of the original meaning" (Ruth Wajnryb, 2004); for example 's headline (Andrea Hubert, 2013), in which Moretz compared the c-word in America and the UK: "cunt is a funny word. It's a strong word, sure, but more so in America. In England it's just like any other curse word". The most common example of this is 'Christmas', which, like 'cancer', can be seen as an alternative 'c-word'. The 2001 headline , for example, is about the removal of the word 'Christmas' from secular greetings cards. In the article, Richard Littlejohn asks, rhetorically: "Who, exactly, is offended by the C-word?". He has fun inventing phrases such as "Father C-word", "C-word Eve", and "C-word Day", all attempts to highlight the absurdity of banning the word 'Christmas'. Less festively, he also bemoans the culture of liberalism, 'political correctness', and 'istas' (in other words, his usual targets), asking: "How on earth do you describe these New Scrooges? Difficult, I know. But try the other C-word". As if that wasn't enough, Littlejohn went on to essentially repeat himself two Christmases later, in another article also headlined ("the dreaded C Word [...] Christmas", 2003). Catherine Bennett, in an article also headlined (in , 2003), also criticised the censorship of 'Christmas'. Tim Rider's article (2004) was also about the contentiousness of 'Christmas': "They do not want any mention of what they call the C-Word because they are worried it will offend followers of other faiths" (2004), as was the article (in , 2004) which urged readers to say 'Christmas' despite its controversy. Yet another article, headlined (2004) also concerned the festive season: "Ditch the dreams of a white Christmas", as did Jay Nordlinger's article ("people could not bring themselves to utter the C-word", 2003). used the headline on the front page of its 2013 Christmas gift issue (13/11/2013). After TV presenter Andrew Strauss called Kevin Pietersen a 'cunt', punned that he had been called "charming": "Kevin Pietersen was described live on air by Piers Morgan as "charming". Cricket experts were aghast at the "inappropriate use of the c-word"", in a spoof article headlined (2014).

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However, none of the commentators who criticised the actually used the word 'cunt' themselves. In a radio report about the scandal, for example, Bob Garfield referred to "a word beginning with 'c' and rhyming with 'shunt' [...] the dirtiest [word] in the English language" (Brooke Gladstone, 2004). Lisa Bertagnoli herself, the author of the suppressed article, sees the word as "something vile and hurtful, to be reclaimed", and maintains that women of her generation are not offended by the word: "I say that to my friends; I refer to a part of my body by that word. No big deal". By contrast, she admits that the typical response from older women is somewhat less accepting: "oh, my God. Shocking. Never use that word. Vile, repulsive. I would faint if somebody said it to me".

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This form of cultural liberalism is as distasteful to some as it isrevelatory to others: "There are many who would say [the old] days werebetter [and] that as a society we've become more coarsened, and thatour freer use of "rough" language is one indicator" (Tom Aldridge,2001). Rather than condemning it as a coarsening of the language,however, we should celebrate it as a symbol of our collectiveliberation from cultural repression.

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Speculation surrounding the reappropriation of 'cunt' must necessarilyencompass both the word itself and its power as an insult. Lucas MMcWilliams argues that, while it is loaded with excessive pejorativecultural baggage, the word itself need not be intrinsically offensive:"There are few words that garner the sort of ire that cunt does. As aninsult, it is second to none. It has come to signify the nastiest ofinsults that can be hurled around a room, and is absolutely venomouswhen snarled properly. It is, however, just a word" (2006). Hiscommentary ends with the realisation that it is misogynistic ideologiesthat we should fear, not words themselves: "Cunt is a word [...] andnothing more. The meaning is entirely what you make of it, and byhiding it in a corner and shuddering whenever it is pulled to light youempower it. [...] I am not saying that you should not be offended ifsomeone calls you a "raving cunt," but be offended by the hate behindit, not the word itself".