C U Next Tuesday

Sydney Morning Herald

Is the C-Bomb going mainstream? Inga Muscio thinks it is time to mainstream the word:

Muscio believes the word, a mere four letters but so powerful (as she says, “There is something about it … it’s just so base; it’s like, it means business, you know?”) is a metaphor for the status of women. While they are oppressed, the word will be oppressed, too.

But as much as Muscio wants to reclaim, reshape and empower women to use “c…”, much in the way the gay community has adopted “queer” and African-Americans have taken back “nigger”, even she says that she sometimes uses the word for ill.

“Once in a while, when someone makes me really, really angry, I will call them that,” she admits. “I am not immune. It feels good sometimes.”

It is as though the word – coyly known as the C-word, the C-bomb, the Anglo-Saxon swear word, tnuc or C U Next Tuesday – has a life of its own. Unlike other words in our lexicon, which we marshal and deploy to suit us, ”c…” seems to exist outside and beyond us, with a mysterious and plosive power belonging only to it.

It is a word even the most liberal of swearers hesitate to use and is arguably the most notorious in the English language, so taboo it’s heard less often than the N-word.

Feminists hate it, most comedians avoid it, grown men are punished for saying it. It has caused sackings and scandals, bannings and banishment. When pronounced, it sounds hard and violent.

Even Germaine Greer admits it is shocking.

How can one syllable cause so much offence? And why, in a world where even the most offensive terms such as “nigger” are being reclaimed, does the C-word remain singularly ostracised?

Why can’t we tame ”c…”?

I am a liberal swearer…I find profanity fascinating and incredibly useful, plus some people just are c…s, as Alexander Downer once noted about Kevin Rudd:

“I don’t use the c-word, but I do use the f-word pretty freely, and I can tell you that Kevin Rudd is a f…ing awful person,” he said.

“He was so incredibly unprincipled.”


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