“Cunt” is likely one of, if not, the word that makes me madder than any other word in the English language. There is no male equivalent. There is a harshness and underlying threat of violence that tends to accompany it; the vengeance with which it is usually spewed is often code for “I would like so very much to hit you physically, but, I know that would wrong and I know also that I can get away with calling you the c-word and it will strike you in a different way.”
I have been called many things in this lifetime already: “cunt” (seldom), “lesbian”, “dyke” or “lesbian dyke” (I know that’s redundant), and most commonly “bitch”. I have also been called “babe”, “sexy” and “beautiful”. Women get called names. I don’t expect this will change anytime soon. What I do expect now is that if someone really must resort to negative name calling (which personally I think is an indicator of having a lack of imagination) that they call us whatever it is they want to call us to our face and that as women we welcome this verbal abuse. We (both men and women) will never be able to examine the attitudes and destructive beliefs that support the use of these words until we are able to address them head on.
Even then I do not think that this will put an end to “locker room talk” or “letting loose or venting to a friend”. The stupidity of these male dental students at Dalhousie lies in the fact that they didn’t vent to a friend, they weren’t just letting off steam, and they knew full well that Facebook is not the locker room where most of the nonsense being bantered about dies off once one re-enters the “real world”- the world that contains both men and women. Again, I must write that the naïve foolishness of posting misogynistic comments baffles me. But, what bothers me more is the cockiness that one participant displayed when he wrote that the university would do little to discipline them and the notion that their words being “known” superseded the fact that they felt entitled to share these words in a public forum. The idea that “if we don’t get caught, it’s not a crime and that we can do wrong but, if you let on about what is going on, we will hunt you down” displays a group mentality that needs to be addressed. The clandestine way in which this took place for years (as a Facebook group) is to me far more dangerous than being called “cunt” to my face. I suspect these young men knew very well that what they wrote was destructive and hurtful and hence their scramble to contain the leak. And if I’m correct we need to acknowledge that theirs was cowardly behavior. Guys have no problem is telling another guy “if you’ve got something to say, say it to my face”. Today, I’m saying the same thing. Ladies, I’m encouraging you to realize this isn’t personal, it’s cultural and to be brave enough to deal with this misbelief head on. Guys, if you don’t like what I do or say, tell me, but don’t be silly enough to think the problem arises because of a difference in chromosomes. Let’s deal with it.