In general, it's best to avoid gender-negative insults like cunt. Anglophiles will disagree but we're not in fucking England, so their opinions don't count.

Anyway, I think kiddie raper is a far worse insult than cunt.
Who gives a cunt?
Strange how slang names for body parts are insults; 'cunt' works well when 'asshole' just isn't the right body part.
Frankly, I wouldn't have cared. Although I would have said the girl in question was a "stupid bee-otch" instead. Cunt sounds a bit more vicious, but some gals simply are. I've run into some.
Um, was this party in London's East End... in 1978? If not—all politics aside, the C-word is a total party foul, and the minor offense certainty didn't call for the mother-of-all-gender-related-epithets-that-I-can-think-of.

I get that he's in college trying out affectations, but this one's not working.
I like how you broke it into type 1 and type 2. Never use cunt (or faggot, etc.) if anyone who could hear it even might interpret it as type 2. Also never use the word if anyone who could hear it might interpret it as type 1 but who might not know the difference between type 1 and 2. If you're using a term like that ironically or otherwise as type 1, it's your responsibility to know your audience...and know that your audience knows you and will understand the context. Basically...don't do it. But the lady who was offended and thought that her contribution to an otherwise relaxed shindig should be to call you out and have a super not-fun conversation? Well, she's a cunt.
Move to Britain - they have no problem with the casual use of "cunt," "twat," and "berk" (rhyming slang for "Berkshire hunt").

Here, on the other hand, you're gonna get called on it.
The sound of the word cunt makes me want to kiss my fingers, so I find a way to use it on occasion (though never as the ultimate insult). But you're always gambling if you pull it out among strangers/acquaintances. If the hearer wants to be or enjoys being incensed, saying "cunt" pretty much rolls out the red carpet for 'em.
Also, the girl that struck your friend's beer may have been flirting with him, however clumsily. Sounds like you're blowing it for everyone.
I'd say as someone (a man) who can't be the target of that word, it's really not my call to decide whether it's become acceptable, nor is it Priapism's. Maybe he should ask some of his "lady classmates," and guage their reactions, instead of spinning a lot of pretentious rationalizations for his behaviour.
It can be taken the wrong way, as the letter writer found out. If you are close enough friends with the lady you are "insulting", then I don't see any harm. But if you are in a large enough group that other people you don't know so well could hear and take insult? Probably not the best choice of words. Women get so damn much crap dumped on us, that it gets pretty discouraging sometimes. We live in a pretty negative environment anyway, so it never hurts to err on the side of not calling a woman "cunt". That said, as long as it was said in a way to get a laugh, not anger, I wouldn't be pissed.
@3: everyone has an asshole. so...not the same thing.
@8 "But you're always gambling if you pull it out among strangers/acquaintances."

Truth, that.
Oh, and Dan? Honey, you've been out a very long time. No need to tell us now.
I don't see any difference really between the use of the word "cunt" and the use of the word "dick".
I also don't mind the use of the word "bitch" as I feel it is just the same as "asshole".

Some people just want to find sexism everywhere, even where none exists. It is to the detriment of their own understanding of reality and society as well as "the cause" of stamping out that very sexism where it does exist.
It's a pretty common word in parts of this country too - I'm from Western PA, where you'll hear it regularly. I used it myself once upon a time, until a female friend explained to me that calling a woman a cunt is like calling a gay man a faggot. Haven't used it since.
I once had a roommate, an artist pal/gay guy (not that it matters much), who thought that I was too uptight. So some mornings, as I was staggering for the coffee, he made every opportunity possible to say the word cunt. You know, did that whole bit about "Twat? Cunt hear you, I have an ear infucktion," etc. He found my getting flustered funny, & found myself powerless to explain why the word infuriated me so. Especially pre-coffee. One day, I asked him how he'd feel if in the same moments, I said the word "faggot" as much as possible. Faggoty fag faggot. & he said he wasn't crazy about the word, RE: the oppression of gay people, & I said that's how I felt about "cunt"*, & we dropped that conversational ball for some years.

Then when I went to England, pretty much everyone said it, like you say "idiot". That, & meeting a woman who literally *could not* say it - she always said "What a See You Next Tuesday" that lady is!" - made me kinda re-examine it. I decided I didn't like the word "cunt" as there didn't seem to a cool, non-squicky word that referred to female junk, the way there was dick, pole, rod, etc. It's also a word used with deep bitterness by guys towards gals when they don't get their way - & they know it pisses women off. It's for when "bitch" "slut " or "ho" just doesn't cut it. But also, I was giving the word power by being so bothered by it.

Since then, I've been too busy writing & drawing & doing pro-equality activist stuff to care too much about it. ;) But I'll definitely let someone know they could improve their vocabulary if needed.

Oh right..this is about PRIAPISM, not me. Dudebro above sounds like he kinda doesn't get why it'd be so upsetting for a woman to hear. The fact that he says "lady classmate" also, seems kinda distancing. I wouldn't be interested in much conversation with a man who used that word as a throwaway insult.

Does PRIAPISM not have some good female friends he could ask about this? 'cause they would be the people he should ask.

* = (I don't use the word "faggot" much, anyhow. Was trying to reverse the "shick therapy" on my pal.)
I view a man using cunt in the same vein that I view the GOP using rape comments: it's clueless at best, "lean(s) heavily on "negatively towards women", and it's use should cause women to seriously review any relationship with said person or political party.

We have the GOP to insult us, so LW can stand down on that count, as we're heard enough.

As to the LW's comment that he would only use it as an insult of "last resort" - his life must be very fortunate or very sheltered, if a tapped beer bottle requires a last resort insult. But that would again fall under "clueless."
Try asshole, dick, idiot, jerk, - or chill on the small things.
@17 "shick therapy" = should be "shock therapy", natch. I type too fast. :(

& happy weekend, Dan & everyone. :)
The problem in a situation like this is that the winking hipstery use is, for a lot of the people within earshot, basically indistinguishible from the horrible misogynistic use. And yes, that's true even if you have impeccable feminist credentials (not necessarily rightly so, but still true).

Ironically, in a way, you weren't over-the-top enough. If you'd said "baby rapist" or "puppy eater", your intended irony would have been clear to everyone.
If you're white, you never, ever call a Black person a nigger, not even in jest. If you are straight, you never, ever call a gay person a faggot, even in jest. If you are a man, you never, ever call a woman a cunt, even in jest. Those are the rules.
Although I personally don't see how
" I had exclaimed the word when a fellow partygoer struck the top of my friend's beer bottle with hers so that my friend's beer would overflow."
is an offense worthy of using any of the terms (cunt, bitch, dick, asshole).
My friends and I use it between each other because we know it's a joke... in a public situation like that though, I think the writer was in the wrong. You referred to the person who hit your friend's drink as a fellow party-goer, which makes it sound like you didn't know them. Calling anyone you don't know (and who therefore doesn't know if you're joking or not) a cunt in retaliation for an action is really not the best idea.

I hate to say it, but you being a guy also has a lot of leverage on the acceptability of you saying the word cunt in a public space, especially if you're actually directing it at another human being. I'm not surprised your "lady classmate" (really?) chewed you out, I probably would have too given the circumstances.

And, on a completely different note, if you talk anything like you write, you sound like a pretentious douche. Just a heads up.
What @21 said. If the LW is white, would he have called a black classmate the n-word in order to be hyperbolic.

Also, to the LW: you weren't with friends, you fucking asshole; you were with peers and future colleagues with whom you were on friendly and informal terms.
Only a grad student would write such an analysis of a 4-letter word.
@10 bingo. letter writer isn't in the position to be all defensive-hurt about this.

He was (allegedly) going for an outrageous overreaction in the name of humor. His joke fell flat. He couldn't come up with a witty comeback in the moment, so to make up for it, he's now got this whole analysis about the role of the word cunt in society to defend himself.

I suspect this letter is just a trial run so he'll be more prepared next time he tries to be so outRAGEously ascerbic at a party, so he can use a word people don't like AND school his lady classmates on what is and isn't offensive to them.

Are we sure this guy is in his late 20s? This is all very college freshman.

What he thinks is irrelevant. The woman was offended and made it known. Since he is not a woman, he doesn't get much say in whether or not she should be offended or not.
Ugly is in the eye of the beholder. I'm a gay man, and I don't like being called a faggot. I know there are millions of straight men who use the word and I actually believe them when they say they're not actually homophobic- but the word certainly is and I don't want to hear it. There are also many gay men who don't give a shit. Defer to the company you're in if you don't want to be confronted or embarrassed. Using words like "cunt" or "faggot" don't necessarily make you a bad person, but if you do you should anticipate being judged for it- like anything else that comes out of your mouth. So the swears-he's-queer-positive straight man who says "faggot" and the considers-himself-a-feminist grad student who says "cunt" really shouldn't bitch when they're "misunderstood". Of course you have every right to say whatever you want- and other people have the right to point out that you sound like an asshole.

and let them have a crack at it.

Whether intentional or not, good one!
Srsly? This is the douchiest writer ever.

Somebody called you out for being offensive when you were using an offensive word? Say it ain't so!

And your backwards twist triple somersault explanation of how saying a naughty word was really a joke unto itself is plain insulting and completely douchey. You insulted a woman and thought people would find it cute.

You, LW, are a doss cunt. And if you don't know the word doss, you can't use the word cunt.
You can jokingly call a guy a cunt, but not a girl.
Anyone who has to spin a load of shit the length of this letter to justify what he said needs no help from us determining whether or not what he said was justified. He already knows the answer. He just doesn't want to admit it.
How dare the classmate have her own opinion! The Mansplainer hath spoken!
Welcome to grad school, where the disputes are so bitter because the stakes are so low.

Anyone remember the olden days when grad students were clever?
@10: Thinking you aren't eligible to called 'cunt' makes you a cunt. Not all cunts are women. A male cunt is a whiny pussy.
Unless you have one (cunt) or are one (f****t, various racial slurs), you don't get to use it. Sorry, white boy. Find another way to be "edgy". May I suggest dreadlocks and Ayn Rand?
Yeah. He should not have used that word in a public social setting where it could be overheard and offend people, like he did and it was and it did. The proper remedy, though, was a simple "I'm sorry, I didn't intend for you to hear that," followed by turning away from the woman to indicate it was a private comment and discourage her from pursuing further chastisement.

Apparently, I am the only commenter thus far who thinks initial woman's dumb trick, which did actual - even if very minor - property damage (loss of beer, come on people, where are your values?) was worse than the epithet which followed.
I suspect he's in law school.
Letter writer, you should keep using the word "cunt" as you have. It's much better for everyone if you broadcast the type of person you are. It'd be far more annoying if you hid it and made it take longer for people to learn to avoid you and not take you seriously.
@21 has it.

@30, I don't use the C-word, at all, but could you explain what "doss" means in that context?
@ 26, some people never grow up. Hell, look at what happens on Slog on an everyday basis.
' a male cunt is a whiny pussy'
No, no and no.

Why didn't you just call her a bitch?

No, I think you wanted a reaction, buddy.
Boy you just a stupid bitch, and girl your just a no good dick.
context, intent and knowing your audience are everything. no word should ever be considered totally off-limits.
Rather than snarling the word "cunt" at one who has offended, please consider the less vulgar and more correct phrase: "You are as an attractive lady who will not lay with me."
I'll never forget "Sexy Beast," the Jonathan Glazer 2000 film, with dangerous male English gangster characters insulting each other with the C word. I thought it was hilarious. You know, in context and everything.
The short answer:
You unintentionally hurt someone's feelings? You apologize, genius.

Long, rambly answer:
I'd actually, intellectually like to reclaim the word. It has an etymology that I can't really find fault with or be insulted by. Depending on who you ask, it hearkens back to a Roman goddess of fertility, or a Saxon word for "sheath". All of that is fine and good except. . .

Do you have ANY idea how many times most women are called bitches, sluts, hos, cunts, etc by men that they *haven't even met yet*? I have this shit flung at me out moving car windows on a daily basis right along with slightly more complimentary (?) terms like "Hey, titties!" Until people stop using it to utterly whittle us down with minimal effort, you cannot use it for comedic value around anyone who doesn't know you VERY well without risk. As you JUST LEARNED.

And frankly? Even though you did so somewhat ironically, you admit you did use it because of its devastating nature, punishing a small transgression with it. You used it as the shock tactic conversation ender that it can be. For humor. But a woman can't take offense without being too sensitive? Just. . . wow.
This is really ironic, PRIAPISM, because you're preoccupation with your wounded ego and your perceived linguistic entitlements as a male (which take precedent over, say, any actual concern you should have with patriarchy and sexism) render you a giant fucking DICK. So "dick" would be a more appropriate interjection at your next shitty attempt at humor.
One time I was playing Sorry! with my best friend, and we were probably stoned, but she bumped my piece back to home, and I yelled out, "YOU CUNT!" For exactly the same reason as OP's #1. It was so out of line that it was hilarious. But also, we were alone in my apartment and it was for her ears only, not at a party.
Your reasoned concern proves there is hope for you yet, Bret Easton Ellis.
After reading the "I'm out" caption, I expected the response to LW saying "cunt" was going to be the offended party saying "fag" and LW, in a sudden moment of insight and boldness, replying "Why yes, by God, I am!" and thereby come out to all his classmates. Now that would have been a nice read. All the whiny stuff, not so much.
What 21 said. It's a power word with overwhelming symbolic weight. You just don't get to use it. And I would never use it either.
The word hasn't departed my mouth in at least a decade, though I has thought it many times. I merely refer to my favorite acronym for it, as in "He/She just can't understand normal thinking."

I also don't use the words "slit" or "gash" to substitute for it, which in my mind are much more offensive and vile.
Perhaps monosexual users of gendered insults involving body parts should be denied access to those parts or forced to become intimately acquainted with them (whichever is contrary to preference) for varying periods of time, greater for M>F insults in reflection of the evils of sexism. Until such sentences are in place, however, I suggest that the LW be required to watch Love! Valour!! Compassion!!! (sorry if I have the exclamation points wrong) daily for a month or two to see this argument done better. (Note: I said better, not right.)

As for "lady classmate", my guess would be that it's just the LW being snarky, although there does exist a certain type of woman who insists on the L word.

As its companion has fallen into general disuse, the L word is overdue for confinement to Wimbledon along with the G word.
This reminded me of something I came across on the internet a while ago:

Instead of deriving "bad words" from sex (or sex organs as the case may be), we should derive them from bad music: NICKLEBACK! That hurt like a Katy Perry single!

For the LW: Dude, don't be such a Brad Paisley. Not cool.
Meh, a non-issue. She over reacted, don't lose any sleep about it.
This is easy. Any man who thinks nouns for female genitals are insults will not be spending time with my genitals. You can absolutely use "cunt" when talking dirty about all the fun things you're going to be doing to it.
On this note, I never use body part insults. What is with the body hate? Douche, people. Because douches are truly despicable.
back in the 80s i heard a lot of women hold forth on the offensiveness of this word. then i heard brits use it like we use "like". then inga muscio.

i still don't say it. ever. i'm not british or inga muscio.
If you think it would have been OK to call an African American the N-word or a gay man a F@gg€t in a similar situation, you're golden, because it arrives in women's ears with a similar level of historic hatred and threat.
I'm sorry, but for me it's as offensive as the infamous n-word, and I'm not even female (or black). And given the way women have been treated as mere sexual and reproductive commodities throughout human history *and even to this day*, reducing a woman to her genitalia (or to her clothing, or to her body shape) is not the same as doing the same for a man ("dick", which I wouldn't use either). Men will always have all the privilege. Their sexual health will not be politicized, they will not prized only as breeders and living Fleshlights, they will not grow up being told by society that their sexuality is the measure of their worth. They won't have to stay on guard for girlfriends, wives, or female acquaintances who could potentially rape them. (There are exceptions, of course.)

So the c-word is more than just the ultimate word to degrade a woman. (And how is that ever justified?) It's a reminder of past suffering and a threat of future abuse. I see it as a power play by the guy to remind the woman who's in charge. And who needs that crap?

I think. I mean, I'm not a woman. But I'll tell you this, if I was a woman going out with a guy, and he used that word, even in passing, that would be the last date. Because I'd see it as a little red flag, an indication of how he feels about women in general, beneath the jovial facade. And as a guy, a guy who uses that word, even in passing, tells me all I need to know.
Holy fuck balls, don't come to Australia if you don't like the indescriminatory use of the word CUNT, because gender aside everyone's a CUNT at some point, and they should be told when they are being CUNT's. so as to no longer be a CUNT but join the masses in proclaiming what CUNT all those other CUNTS are being, The end
Never call a woman a cunt in the US. Never use cunt as a negative label to anyone. Period. And be very careful about using it in other English speaking contexts. It is very offensive.You will lose friends and if you make new friends they will be worthless people. It is just plain not OK.

You LW, have no entitlement for using it and your "joke" is lame and actually sounds like an after the fact explanation to justify what you know damn well was an offensive thing to say.

If you are really a college student and if you wish to be an educated person, you will find other lexical items to creatively express yourself.

Do not use the term "cunt."
@40 In that context: stupid, thick, or not with it.
26 is onto something: This letter is the trial run for the next time he pulls an ironic hipster and some lady person fails to laugh at the awesome joke: He will mansplain it to her, including how her feelings about the word occasionally screamed at her out car windows are incorrect. He knows, as a guy.
Of course it's sexist, and the letter writer knows that it is. Whether he cares that it's sexist (and decides whether to use it or not accordingly), is obviously up to him. What he's really saying here is that he's been using this word (in this case "cunt", but substitute any other slur) most of his life and he FINALLY just ran into someone who objects, and it caught him by surprise and hurt his feewings. Sorry dude! But maybe grow up.
63: Somehow I'm sure he would have thought to mention that he was in Australia (or England) and so the context was different. Since he precisely lays out how it is the most over-the-top thing he could come up with to say, I think it's safe to deduce he's not.

So if YOU come to the US (assuming you're in Australia) now you know not to march into a party or work function and start calling everyone around you a fucking cunt. Context.
As for the "lady classmate" who "made it clear she was horrified": Sounds like she told him she didn't care for the word. If everyone who is treated to his hilarious invocations of "cunt" stays silent because, hey, no need to cause a fuss, then he gets to claim, "Why golly gee willikers, no one has ever been offended until you!" She removed that excuse from his repertoire, performing a public service.

Sometimes you need to call people on their bs, even if it's ironic hipster bs.
Why do we think the person he said it to was a woman? The person who took offense was a woman, but I didn't get the impression the prankster was.
As a woman, I have no problem using the word or hearing others use it. There is a great feminist book called 'cunt' actually. I actually find it insulting to women that it is seen as such taboo. Unfortunately not all share my opinion so to be safe in mixed company, try using C U Next Tuesday as a replacement ;)
@ 70 - Third sentence of his letter:

"I had exclaimed the word when a fellow partygoer struck the top of my friend's beer bottle with HERS* so that my friend's beer would overflow."

*Emphasis added.
If you can replace the word "cunt" with the phrase "charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent", and your sentence still makes sense, then it is OK to use it. Otherwise you'd best not. This is known as the Rupaul rule.
What a cunty cunt.
'Cunt' pisses off uptight, Seattle feminists?

What doesn't piss off those cunts.
reading the letter makes me shudder because it sounds just like my son might sound in 10 years. The self-righteous justification for using an offensive term is like my 14-year-old who never makes a mistake and explain that every idiotic thing he does makes sense, was reasonable and, really, he had no other choice. Since this guy is not my son, I can say, "what a dick"
"Never use cunt as a negative label to anyone. Period."

@64 LuisitaPhD, you're the reason the word cunt was invented.

I love the word cunt, girlfriends have discussed it with me and they found it sexy and empowering. What a strong sounding word it is for a mimsy, after all.

It tastes good just to say it, but in social situations you must know your audience. Then again you might get to know your audience by using the word cunt, or by explaining that when you're fucking a chicken you can slam it's neck in a drawer to make it tighten up, then see who leaves the room.
We live in a misogynistic society. Women, thanks to the likes of the Karadshian tribe, are now in the midst of a total resurgence of macho-istic bullshit. Calling someone a "cunt" today is much different than calling someone that two decades ago.

Both "cunt" and "faggot" have become the new "nigger". Society is changing - and it is thankfully DEMANDING that people actually be more careful in what they say and how they choose their words.

While some see this as a) political correctness gone loco or b) hyper sensitive minorities having a chip on their collective shoulders, the fact remains that in the long run, thinking about the words we use, how we use them and how it makes us look to our peers, can only help to evolve the human race to a better tier, even while trash like "reality TV" and "pop music" continue to drag us all down.

Choose your words carefully - don't take the gift of language and communication for granted.
Sounds like the cunt who complained just wanted something to bitch about. Probably that time of the month.
@68 Good to know. Ya cunt.
still trying to get around this one, hun... NOPE. You just can't!
"hyper sensitive minorities "

Well of course cunts are a minority. If everyone was a cunt, life would be a total bitch.
I love to hear my lover say cunt while in the throws of passion.

I'm pretty good at catching inflection in speech and would pick up on cunt being used as an insult rather than in humor. Many people don't catch the subtleties of speech. Also, many people cling to what they have been taught and what they believe is offensive, and are not willing to accept that others may have a different opinion. So unless you can take the heat from those offended just choose your use of the word carefully.

I say be grateful you like the world. It comes off the tongue quite nicely and others are just missing out on a wonderful word.
You people live in some kind of rarefied Anglicized eating club where women feint and men get miffed and vexed by vulgar lan-gu-age.

Here in Kent at my favorite park, a bunch of girls were sunbathing and then started called calling each other dicks and then claimed they were wiggers. It is not uncommon for a bunch chicks of them to run up to some guy from their class, punch him and then scream "you asshole, fuck you, Colin"!

If I close my eyes and somehow imagine their voices several octaves lower, I would swear I was at a bar in Elizabeth, New Jersey listening to some longshoremen roughhousing while downing boilermakers.

Maybe you guys should see "Spring Breakers". Or see it again. You might learn what life is like outside The Capitol.

If you don't mean to cause offense, avoid saying words that cause offense. If you do mean to cause offense, say what you mean and stand behind it. Either way, don't retroactively whine about your misunderstood intentions while coaching the masses on how they should feel about it.
I don't get it...I took a bunch of shit from you people in a different thread on the use of "pussy" as an insult; now I come here and find all sorts of "cunt" defense? I'm confused.
@87: Check your meds, something is amiss.
'Cunt' is an extreme version of 'bitch'. When used on a woman it is basically saying that she should be ashamed that she is not falling into her proper gender role. Equivalent words don't exist for men except perhaps for 'faggot'. So yes, calling a woman a cunt is far more offensive than just a vulgar word. It is a misogynist slur.
@63, @74 & 75 great examples.

Proper usage:
What a fucking cunt!
One of the hallmarks of being clever is that other people can tell you're being clever.
As far as I'm concerned "cunt" is the exact equivalent of "dick". I use it to call out people who embody the worst stereotypes and expectations of their gender. Not usually to their faces.

Using it to belittle a guy for acting like some kind of girl? Nope.
I'm obviously very much in the minority here, but I always wonder if we might be much better off to de-stigmatize these types of broad and context-less slurs, who's primary function, as far as I can tell, is to give a baseless & undeserved upper hand to their user that's always going to be lacking their adversary. It's unlikely there's ever going to be anything that targets or offends us white guys the way that "nigger" or "cunt" does blacks or women. Doesn't this inability to be offended on that same level serve to empower us (even if obviously to an extremely minor extent)?

Put another way, I wonder if we shouldn't just apply godwin's law and allow for all lowest common denominator style insults to carry the same sordid weight. Wouldn't this essentially level the playing field and force those engaging in debate to be judged and evaluated based on the content of their argument, rather than the intensity or vulgarity of the insult contained therein?

I guess this would entail "giving up" this fight, but in the scope of fights that feminists and minority rights advocates engage in, one involving language would seem to rank pretty low on the scale.

(Obviously I'm about to get flamed here and I surely mean no offense to anyone. Inasmuch as it's worth, I absolutely consider myself an advocate for both feminism and minority rights. Just curious...)
@91: How is intentionally spilling beer in (undoubtedly) someone elses' space not a dick move?
Perhaps he should have said, " Stop being a stupid dick, you dumb cunt". Inclusiveness rules!
I'm an American living in London. Those defending the casual use of `cunt' on the grounds of Anglophilia should know it's losing favor here. Or losing favour, if you insist. The Brits are starting to hear the misogynistic undertone, I think. Oddly enough, the use of `pussy' as an insult meaning something like `wimp' is growing.
@96: Calling someone a dick isn't a word that is typically associated with gender norms. 'Bitch' and 'cunt' are. So is 'faggot'. These words are slurs.

Think about the women who are typically called bitches or cunts--they are women who stand up for themselves. They aren't submissive. They don't respect male authority. So bigots call them bitches and cunts to take them down a peg. And think about why a man who is not obeying his gender role is called "a little bitch" or a cunt. This is to associate the man with the worst type of woman that a bigot can think of--one who doesn't know her place.

Just don't use the words. It is theoretically possible you could use the words in a non-offensive manner, just like other racial slurs could theoretically be used in a non-offensive manner. It isn't wise to do so though, since they have a very bigoted history.
Here in New Zealand (Australia has a similar outlook) the word 'cunt' is used VERY frequently in informal conversation. Saying someone is a cunt is honestly not much worse than saying they are a dick or an asshole. In fact - it will no doubt shock American readers - that the word cunt is interchangeably used as a positive word of endearment (usually prefaced by the word 'good') as well as an insult. It all depends on context. For example, "Dave changed my tire for me, what a good cunt" or "my mates threw me a surprise birthday party, what a bunch of good cunts". It's often also shortened to 'GC' (as in "Dave's such a GC"). As you can see, it's also used in a non-gender specific way.
@ 95, I get what you're saying, and a lot of us feel that way intellectually, but at the end of the day, how you react viscerally isn't so easy to shut off. Words have power because they DO. There's a huge chunk of history built up in many of us.

for example, I'm a lesbian with an obvious disability. I've been insulted a time or two in my life. If you insult me again, it carries the weight of prior experience. As much as I would LIKE to take less offense, it isn't possible. I can pretend to feel nothing, to avoid a scene, but rest assured, I would feel it, no matter how many times whatever term has been used casually. The times that were less casual affect the perception too strongly.

Conversely, there's no insult I could sling at Mr. Clueless Brodude from the letter that could hurt him the same way he could hurt me unless I happen to accidentally stumble on something that held private history for him, because societal convention certainly isn't providing me with any obvious barbs for his category of person. Would it be nice to level the playing field? Perhaps, but I'm at a loss.

I believe that the language you use has an effect upon your very thoughts. What you say, you become. Is that really so trivial a part of the fight?
"I'm a lesbian with an obvious disability."

Being a cunt isn't a disability.

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