As you well know, last night someone running “The Onion” Twitter account fired off a joke involving a 9-year-old and the word c*nt. Dustin has already posted a lovely, measured response, and many, if not all of you, have weighed in on the matter. If you didn’t already see it, as of around 9:30 a.m. PST, “The Onion” officially responded with the following apology:
So are we done talking about it? Maybe we should be. But I feel the need to say that there are few words that get under my skin quite like that one. I’m not a humorless bitch, but I do believe in the power of words and, for me, there are at least three words left in the English language that set my teeth on edge: n*gger, f*ggot and c*nt. When used as an insult, that f-word and the n-word are obviously hate-filled slurs meant to make the object feel small, feel their “place.” And when the c-word is flung, hatefully, at a woman, I feel it much the same way. I wince.
I had a fellow (female) Pajiba writer ask me why that word bothered me so. I dunno. Did Eve Ensler and Ani DiFranco “reclaim” it at some point? Have I seen enough Guy Ritchie movies that it shouldn’t faze me? I can’t explain it; it’s a visceral thing, not a rational thing. I once had a commenter call me a c*nt for spoiling a TV plot line for them and more than any other reasoned, deserving or thought-out insult, that one stuck with me. I understand it doesn’t mean the same for other people. I also understand that the source of this particular kerfuffle is “The Onion,” so we should all probably just unclench. But my marshmallow petal feelings on the subject aren’t really the issue. The issue, surely, is that girl’s age. You know it, I know it, “The Onion” knows it. But some of you love that word, love the way it tastes in your mouth. So if you are going to use it, make sure it’s under one of the following circumstances. These are a handful of instances when it’s okay.
If You’re British
If You’re Irish
If You’re Scottish
If You’re Whatever It Is Tom Hanks Was Supposed To Be
If You’re Jon Stewart
If You’re Naming The Bluth Family Boat
If You’re In A Production Of The “Vagina Monologues”
If You’re Reviewing That Gwyneth Paltrow Movie
If You’ve Elevated The Act Of Swearing To An Art Form
If You’re A Psychopath
If You’re the Kind Of Guy Who Likes Punching Women
If You’re Prepared To Get Fired
If You’re Al F*cking Swearingen, You Can Say Whatever You Damn Well Please