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When used in a reductive, abusive context, female genital terms such as 'cunt' are notably more offensive than male equivalents such as 'dick'.
This linguistic inequality is mirrored by a cultural imbalance that sees images of the vagina obliterated from contemporary visual culture: "The vagina, according to many feminist writers, is so taboo as to be virtually invisible in Western culture" (Lynn Holden, 2000).
Like many swear words, it has been incorrectly dismissed as merely Anglo-Saxon slang: "friend, heed this warning, beware the affront Of aping a Saxon: don't call it a cunt! In fact, the origins of 'cunt' can be traced back to the Proto-Indo-European 'cu', one of the oldest word-sounds in recorded language.
'Cu' is an expression quintessentially associated with femininity, and forms the basis of 'cow', 'queen', and 'cunt'.
The word has since become increasingly prolific in the media, and its appearances can broadly be divided into two types: euphemism and repetition.
Later, John Wilmot would remove the veil altogether, writing "some of the filthiest verses composed in English" (David Ward, 2003) with an astonishingly uninhibited sexual frankness and a blatant disregard for the prevailing Puritanism.
The c-word's second most significant influence is the Latin term 'cuneus', meaning 'wedge'.
The Old Dutch 'kunte' provides the plosive final consonant.
The clarifies the word's commonest contexts as the two-fold "female external genital organs" and "term of vulgar abuse" (RW Burchfield, 1972).
At the heart of this incongruity is our culture's negative attitude towards femininity.