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

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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.

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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.

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