Few words in the English language are more divisive than the word 'cunt'. I vividly remember being a 12-year-old watching Bridesmaids for the first time and my parents explaining to me that it was "the worst swear word" and imploring me to never use it. Now, 12 years later, my whole family uses it quite liberally. So when did the word cunt go from being a profanity to becoming a compliment or a term of endearment, particularly within the Gen Z vernacular?
As with many slang terms, the rise of the word 'cunt' in recent years can largely be attributed to African American Vernacular English (AAVE), queer people and drag culture. The word has ties to the ballroom and vogueing scene of New York, with the 1995 bop “Cunty (The Feeling)” by drag queen Kevin Aviance playing a large role in the reclamation of the word. Beyoncé even sampled the banger in her song "Pure/Honey" from Renaissance.
Going back further, to ye olde medieval times, the word was the medical term for female genitalia and was not considered to be offensive. Over time, however, sexual terms became viewed as profanity and using the word cunt became taboo.
With the rise in popularity of terms like 'cunty' or 'serving cunt', people have strong feelings across the board. Some view the adoption of 'cunt' as an act of linguistic reclamation and rejection of gender norms, while others argue that the word is appropriation of queer culture. Meanwhile, some insist that since the word was historically derogatory towards women, that means it is also their word to reclaim.
We polled the Refinery29 Australia audience to get a feel for their thoughts on the word 'cunt'.