My Panties are in a Wad. {NSFW}

Via Maggie LeRoux
on Sep 10, 2012
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Pussy, Cunt and Other Words that Make You Uncomfortable

It’s true. My panties are in a wad, and that’s really tough ‘cause I’m wearing a thong. It’s mighty uncomfortable all up in there, and to quote Missy Elliott I’d like to, “put my thing down, flip it and reverse it.” So, I feel the need to vent. Let me bring you up to speed on how I ended up this way:

A few days ago I was randomly called a “pussy” in a convenience store when I was driving through Kansas.

Now, it should be noted I was wearing an above-the-knee dress that probably deserved a slip under it. Thus, it’s entirely possible that the fella could actually see the outline of my wonder of down under, but when one is driving cross-country the fewer layers the better. Plus, I like the wind up my skirt and that’s my prerogative.

Anyway, this guy calls me a “pussy,” with every bit of sexual innuendo you can imagine including a low growl. Yeah, like that. My initial reaction was to want to bend over flip up my skirt and say, “Yes, I do have one, thank you for noticing, and it’s gorgeous.” Instead, what happened was that I was so taken aback I said nothing. I’m normally pretty quick on the draw, but this time I walked away silent. I left feeling disempowered.

However, it wasn’t the name calling that got my thong stuck. I’ve been called a pussy or cunt oodles of times. It was the response from the public that upset me. Being me and not scared to stir the pot, I posted this transaction on Facebook around the same time I posted an article from another writer about the history of the word cunt on my page.

Shortly thereafter, a friend put up a post about not using shock words online and only using language that expresses love and compassion to the world. On my own post where I asked people what I should have said, many people replied that the guy didn’t deserve a response. A lot of friends I spoke with in person also agreed that silence was the best option. My mother said I should have just cast the look of a thousand words and walked away.

I called at least three friends I have on my feminist crisis Bat Phone’s speed dial and ranted into their answering machines ’til they called me back with their responses to the public’s reaction and the whole situation. They were a mixed bag of opinions too, but in general felt as I do—that saying something is better than nothing.

So, here’s where I’m stuck. As a devout yogini, I get the whole yogic principle of “let’s all talk about love and sunshine and rainbow-pooping unicorns.”

But does turning the other cheek actually do anything? Does not saying anything actually create change? Is everyone right that this pussy misogynist is not worth a response?

I personally feel that not saying anything insinuates that he is incapable of change, which if you think about it, is completely anti-yogic. I just don’t buy this philosophy, not to mention the fact that I walked away from the situation feeling “less than” as a person because I didn’t take a stand.

I’m a big believer in giving a voice to the voiceless, and I also believe in the power of humor to shut a situation down and create a new space for education. For instance, in my last article I talked about a guy who booty bumped his way into me in a bar. I asked him, “Do you always introduce yourself to women ass first?” What I didn’t tell you is that he was totally caught off guard and held out his hand to shake mine and said, “Hi, I’m Mike, and I’m sorry.” We proceeded to have a five-minute conversation, and I would bet you that guy will never do that to another woman again.

My friend Judy suggested that I should have gone “meow” and then hissed and shown my claws. I love that idea—that’s all kinds of crazy—and I bet it would shut the perp down fast. It’s true it may not stop him from ever calling another woman a pussy again, but at least that image of my crazy hissing would have been burnt into his brain, and probably the brain of anyone else who happened to catch it.

Education is power. Humor is power. The two together—now we’re cooking with gas.

Here’s piece two of this puzzle. I don’t believe in “shock words.” So, despite what my friend might think, I’m not using them to get a stir—they are part of my regular vernacular. Does that mean my mouth should be washed out with soap? Is it not peaceful or unladylike to use these kinds of words? Am I once again, “un-yogic?”

I actually like the words that we consider to be shock words. In fact, I love them. I believe in educating men and women to own them and use them with respect. I like them so much here’s a little personal cheer for you: Pussy, Cock, Twat, Cunt! Yell them out and join the front! Okay, it’s bad cheer—you just go ahead and try to rhyme “cunt.” Anyway.

These words serve a purpose. Not only do many of these words make boudoir talk so much easier (“Oh baby, baby I want to ‘xxx’ your cunt/cock” is just so much sexier than the same statement with the word “vagina” or “penis” inserted). Additionally, many of these words have logical roots.

Cock has been around since the seventeenth century as a term and means, “to stand upright or to strut proudly.” Yep, makes sense. Cunt has been an anatomical descriptive term since the eighteenth century. In particular, I really heart the word cunt. I have a special relationship to it. It has been used on me a number of times in a derogatory fashion by both men and women (apparently I get that a lot), so one day in the heat of an argument I decided to try it out. It felt horrible, and in that exact moment I decided to reclaim it and make it mine. Oh, and by the way, according to a friend of mine, it’s “twatting” not “tweeting.” Isn’t that just more fun to say at a dinner party? “Hold on, I need to twat this!”

No one is debating that language is powerful, but words only have power if you give them power. If you claim them as your own and treat them with respect or a touch of humor, then they are simply just words. I think cunt is beautiful and sounds like a flower. And don’t even get me started on the word clitoris—be still my heart.

I don’t think there is an easy answer to this debacle, but I think the use and power of language is a discussion we should keep having.

One of my feminist crisis hotline friends turned me onto a website called Hollaback. It deals specifically with the issue of verbal harassment as a topic. It offers space for individuals who have encountered harassment to speak out against their aggressors in both story and when possible photos. It also offers helpful tools for what to do when harassment happens. Check it out.

(Sigh) Dear reader, I feel much better since I’ve shared this rant with you. Now, time to untangle this mess from my twat.



Editor: Sara McKeown

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About Maggie LeRoux

Maggie LeRoux is a yoga teacher and writer with a million other hobbies and a goal to see every state by 2020. A devout feminist she writes about all things femcentric – travel, gossip, beauty, sex and more.


15 Responses to “My Panties are in a Wad. {NSFW}”

  1. Julie says:

    "No one is debating that language is powerful, but words only have power if you give them power."

    Agree a 100% with that. So why give so much power to the word “pussy” when used by someone with obvious bad intentions? Why describe what you were wearing on the day of the incident and even justify it? He was at fault, you weren’t.
    He was wrong in talking to you that way and I don’t think answering him would have made him any wiser on the matter.

    "I just don’t buy this philosophy, not to mention the fact that I walked away from the situation feeling “less than” as a person because I didn’t take a stand."
    What I wonder is, what were you telling yourself when it happened? To me that is where the power resides.

  2. Kathy says:

    While you might've felt better saying something, the guy will still be an ass to the next woman. It's too late for him. But if you would've felt better saying (or hissing) something, go for it! (Not an easy thing to do when confront with such a boor in a public place….)

    As for cunt, I believe it comes from cunny, an old word for rabbit. Coney Island was originally over run with rabbits. And rabbits are soft and cuddly….just don't piss 'em off cuz they bite!

  3. We've talked at length about this Carrie, and I still don't have an "answer," but if there is one, it lies somewhere in breaking down the "otherness" between the two parties, if it can be done so safely…

    Neither a big fat "[email protected] off" nor ignoring the situation seem to do anything but preserve the total disconnected-ness that I believe are at the root of this kind of abusive behavior. We are all one, so I don't think writing this guy off or shrugging the situation off will leave you feeling complete. It hadn't even occurred to me that explaining what you were wearing is so beside the point, but Julie raises a good point!

    P.S. I'm glad you checked out Hollaback!

    Lots of love and THANK YOU for raising this issue and inviting us all into the discussion.

  4. stewii says:

    Kansas, Possibly it was merely admiration and wonder, since they have a tendency to keep the flannels on in that part of the country, maybe a “Thank You” was in order.

  5. maya says:

    Thank you for writing this, I really appreciate it..and it's seriously an issue for women that is WAY underrepresented and talked about. Last year I moved to a city that has a huge homeless population, and I have gotten harassed by them more than a few times. The most recent one was when i was waiting for the bus to take me to school. A guy comes up and starts yelling to himself about something, saying fuck this, fuck that. I was the only one around, and when I discovered that I had to wait 20 minutes for the next bus, I thought, "fuck this guy and his energy, I'm just gonna walk." so I started to walk away just as he sat down next to me, still ranting to himself. then he turned his attention on me, and said a lot of terrible things and derogatory names. I just walked away. I really wanted to say something, though. But there was that part of me that was afraid of confrontation, afraid because I am a woman and violence happens all the time. And, he was pretty crazy and angry. I left feeling disempowered and shut down. I might have felt a lot better if I said something, but that probably would have turned into a confrontation. Or maybe I would have shut him down. I don't know.
    The point is, as women in the world we get into these terrible situations all the time where we are called out and treated like inferior beings, and subject to all kinds of abuse. But I don't hear women talk about it enough. We need to open this discussion, because it is a seriously problem. I have never met a woman that didn't get harassed randomly like this. So thank you for opening this discussion, you made my day.

  6. Melinda says:

    Thank you – fun, funny, insightful, reflective essay. About your tour – might you be visiting Lake Tahoe/Reno, Nevada? If not, but you'd like to, check out Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village (google); they may be interested in hosting you for a workshop. There's also a wonderful little yoga/meditation/Buddhist community in the Reno area that may be interested in your work.
    Thanks for the chuckle,

  7. kmzam says:

    I agree. I had the same thought when I read the part about what she was wearing. Who gives a shit. She could have walked in naked, doesn't matter. Why do we women feel the need to justify? I do it, and I HATE myself for doing when I don't catch myself beforehand. The guy was being an asshole. Hindsight is 20/20, but everything happens for a reason, and not saying anything was probably the right thing to do in that moment. The guy wasn't worth a response to begin with. Not EVERY action deserves a reaction. Sometimes walking away is the lesson.

  8. Carrie Tyler says:

    Thank you for being on the other end of the feminist bat phone.

  9. Carrie Tyler says:

    You know it's interesting, you raise such a good point – I only brought up what I was wearing because at first (being an anatomy teacher and all) I was wondering if he was identifying body parts. Then I realized… not so much. Ha!

    Also, you have to wonder – did the state of my dress cause the reaction? Regardless of whether it's right or wrong. Would he of still called me a pussy if I had been in jeans and a beat up baggy sweatshirt? Maybe? But that is an article for another time.

    As for the second question – I tend to speak my mind. That is not everyone's path or Truth with a capital "T". For some individuals silence is the best option, but it didn't feel right to me. Being silent simply isn't my Truth (hence the long article). My Truth would of been to say something, so when I didn't I left feeling less empowered as a woman.

    Thanks for the support!

  10. Carrie Tyler says:

    Big love to you Maya. We have all been there. Thank you for sharing your story. This is such a difficult topic. When do you say something? When is it safe to and when is it not? There are no easy answers here, and it is something we deal with all the time. I often wonder what would happen if the tables were reversed – what if a woman went around just calling out "cock" to random men. I wonder the reaction would be?

  11. Carrie Tyler says:

    I would LOVE to come to Lake Tahoe/Reno with Shakti Revolution. In fact I was just passing through Reno to visit a friend on my way out to California. Send me some contact info for the area if you have any at the College or at the Buddhist community. Big Love and thank you! email – [email protected]

  12. Gaby says:

    Carrie, sweet article! I laughed out loud a bunch and appreciate your ability to draw humor to a heavy topic. Things I love to see joined together: Yoga, Feminism, and laughing my ass off! I most connected to the feeling of powerlessness – caught in a moment of absolute energy suck, feeling frozen, unable to respond from the shocking energy of words spoken. I wish I was quick on the draw in the instances when these types of comments are made, but I usually am not. I'm sure there are many people out there who experience the same thing often – who maybe never are quick on the draw or afraid to respond. Thank you for telling people to stand up in order to create the possibility of change. And to invite the possibility of light-heartedness into it if we feel safe enough to do so in the situation. Isn't it fucked up that sometimes I say absolutely nothing because I'm afraid of what the person saying this stuff might do to me? I'm not as likely to stand up if nobody is around or if its night-time…there are some strange things about being a female….Anyways, thanks for writing!

  13. david d says:

    BTW, Great photo… The world is full of "deal noise" and "noise makers" and we all have to decide which of it needs a response ( from us ) at any particular point in time. So unless you really have to defend yourself, I suggest saving your intentions for the erotic ( broadly speaking) interchanges and not let anyone or any word or any level of fuckedupism to crowd out the smile that shines in your eyes. david (with the monster truck)

  14. Carrie Tyler says:

    Thanks for the kind words and thoughts Gaby!

  15. Carrie Tyler says:

    Love it David! Thank you for your insight.