Forget “Blurred Lines”—Can You Like a Song That Celebrates the C-Word? (Yes.)

What Women Really Think
July 18 2013 10:37 AM

Forget “Blurred Lines”—Can You Like a Song That Celebrates the C-Word? (Yes.)

Though the homemade drag music video is by definition a genre that revels in bustedness, a new entry recently released by the artists Levonia Jenkins and La Lopez takes the form to delightful new depths. Called “So Cunt,” the video features Jenkins promenading around New York City mass transit, 14th Street discount stores, and other high-end locales while Lopez offers evidence for why the queen’s outfits and look deserve the title. It’s wholesome summer fun, and for the interested viewer, even instructive: I can attest that Wigs and Plus on 14th is a fine establishment for the butch queen who wishes to freshen up her drag wardrobe.

But what about that word, Bryan? True, not everyone will be down with the song’s unceasing repetition of the C-word. When Jezebel posted the video Wednesday, the comments section immediately began to fill with people expressing discomfort, and understandably so—as my colleague Forrest explained after the Onion controversially called child actor Quvenzhané Wallis a "cunt," the word has been basically the ultimate taboo since the beginning of the 20th century.

Advertisement

But words have different meanings in different contexts, and cunt in drag culture is not an insult. Indeed, in “So Cunt” two distinct definitions are in play: One is ironic, in that calling a queen “so cunt” or “fishy” (as Lopez does in one of the verses) indicates that she has succeeded in making herself indistinguishable from a typically feminine, biological woman. Obviously, Jenkins, with her beard and tattered layaway clothes, is, in fact, not “so cunt.” That’s why it’s funny. The other meaning is usually expressed as “cunty,” which means cocky or extremely self-assured and is generally a term of praise.

Given the annoying rise of the “fishy” glamour-girl drag aesthetic—think Toddlers & Tiaras pageant fashions but with size 13 pumps—highlighted in RuPaul’s Drag Race, I’m happy to see a less ladylike queen fight back with, dare I say it, a much needed “cunt-punt.”

J. Bryan Lowder is a Slate assistant editor. He writes and edits for Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section, and for the culture section.

TODAY IN SLATE

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

Should the United States Grant Asylum to Victims of Domestic Violence?

The Apple Watch Will Make Everyone Around You Just a Little Worse Off

This Was the First Object Ever Designed

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

Moneybox

How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest jewels.

Music

A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now …

The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.

Is Everyone Going to Declare Independence if Scotland Does It? 

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Trending News Channel
Sept. 12 2014 11:26 AM Identical Twins Aren’t Really Identical
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 14 2014 2:37 PM When Abuse Is Not Abuse Don’t expect Adrian Peterson to go to prison. In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 13 2014 8:38 AM “You’re More Than Just a Number” Goucher College goes transcript-free in admissions.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
  Arts
Music
Sept. 14 2014 11:44 PM A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now … The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?