The C-Word Ain't What It Used to Be

'Superstar of four-letter words' hits Guardian's front page, losing its bite

By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 31, 2009 10:18 AM CDT

(Newser) – Rest assured, Dear Reader: As a respectable organization, Newser won’t publish what Kathleen Deveny in Newsweek calls “the rudest, crudest, most taboo term in the English language.” To be blunt, on this issue we must punt, because, on a family website, that dog just won’t hunt—even though Deveny insists the C-word is losing its bite. “The superstar of four-letter words” still “shocks in a way few words still do,” (f*** you, F-word), but it doesn’t pack the same punch.

The Guardian recently printed it on its front page for the first time, adding to its 61 previous appearances in that publication this year alone. The “radioactive epithet” has circulated since at least 1230, when it referred to Gropecuntelane Street (subtle, no?). Despite cultural squeamishness about female sexuality, Deveny admits a “secret affection” for the term—though she shunts it away from her article: “It’s just too powerful, too offensive to too many. Besides, my mom might read this.”

The C word doesn't pack the same punch it used to, Kathleen Deveny writes for Newsweek.
"The C word doesn't pack the same punch it used to," Kathleen Deveny writes for Newsweek.   (Shutter Stock)
The C word doesn't pack the same punch it used to, Kathleen Deveny writes for Newsweek.
"The C word doesn't pack the same punch it used to," Kathleen Deveny writes for Newsweek.   (Shutter Stock)
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The C word doesn't pack the same punch it used to. If a politician uttered a racial epithet, rather than an offensive synonym for vagina, it would be an instant career-ender.
- Kathleen Deveny, Newsweek

There is still one word I can never bring myself to say in front of my mother. It is a radioactive epithet, guaranteed to get you a trip to HR and maybe even a slap in the face.
- Kathleen Deveny, Newsweek

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