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Cunt: A Declaration of Independence

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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  7,461 ratings  ·  726 reviews
An ancient title of respect for women, the word cunt long ago veered off this noble path. Inga Muscio traces the road from honor to expletive, giving women the motivation and tools to claim cunt as a positive and powerful force in their lives. In this fully revised edition, she explores, with candidness and humor, such traditional feminist issues as birth control, sexualit ...more
Paperback, 373 pages
Published October 15th 2002 by Seal Press (first published 1998)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Samantha
i was reading this book and a middle-aged woman, accompanied by her husband, on the subway, asked me (timidly) what I was reading. I smiled and shrugged and flashed her the cover. She giggled. "I saw the title of the chapter," she said. I flipped back a few pages to see what the title of the chapter was. In big, bold print I saw it: "Blood and Cunts." I giggled. The middle aged woman giggled. Together, we giggled. For the sake of interactions like this, everyone should read this book in public, ...more
Taryn
Upon finishing Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, I've arrived at a surprising conclusion: I've been a feminist for years and I was quite possibly the last one to know about it.

This book to me was just a big pleasant surprise. Probably the most interesting result of reading it was coming to the realization that I clearly had a pretty limited picture of what feminism was really about. I viewed feminists in general as people who were very aggressive, pretty anti-male all around, and who were alw
...more
Jess
I wanted to like this. I really did.
And it started out so great.

The blurb talked about how the c word used to be a powerful word for women, so I guess I assumed that the whole book would be analysing the evolution of such a powerful word into one of the worst curse word known. And, well, there's only one chapter on that. One tiny little 5 page chapter. The rest is a misandry-filled rant (I'm sorry, but that really is what it is).

Look, Inga and I just have super different views on what feminism m
...more
Brad
This book is appallingly bad.

I bought it for a couple of reasons. First, I am about to teach Lady Chatterly's Lover for the first time, and I thought any book that makes the case for widespread use of "cunt" was an important bit of prep for D.H. Lawrence's infamous classic. Second, I was under the impression that the book delivered an overview of the etymology of "cunt." Third and last, I read Betty Dodson's introduction and was led to believe that Cunt A Declaration of Independence was the kin
...more
Patrick
Want to know about vaginas? This is your book. After reading this book, I would often brag to girl friends of mine that I probably knew more about their vaginas than they did. I would then proceed to WOW them with my vag-tastic knowledge. I think though, that in the 4 years since I have read this book, there has been quite an adjustment to the learning curves of women interested in their own crotches. Or, maybe I have been hanging out with girls who are more and more vagina-savvy.

Whenever I was
...more
Iz
I wrote this review exactly 6 years ago and posted it on my then-blog. Here's part of it:

I don't even know where to begin bitching about this book, so I'll just summarize it chapter by chapter:

She advocates that all women should talk to the moon and worship the goddess, as if all feminists are into wishy-washy Wicca rituals (from what I've noticed every 4th word on this book is goddess). She also recommends only reading books written by women and only talking to women and only watching women-ma
...more
Mollygf
Fundamentally, I think this author and I agree on many things, and she has some really good messages about body acceptance, empowerment, and sisterhood. However, what kept me from truly enjoying this book and recommending it as a good feminist read is that it is written with such vitriol and in such inflammatory language that it became hard to relate with many times. I recall when I read Muscio's near exaltation of Aileen Wuornos as a kind of feminist folk hero, I truly balked. While I think the ...more
Gaijinmama
May 19, 2012 Gaijinmama rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all women and those who seek to understand them
Recommended to Gaijinmama by: Bust magazine, ages ago!
Shelves: nonfiction
I can't even type the title because I don't want this review or my blog to be labeled as Adult. Suffice it to say, it's a four-letter word, beginning with C, referring to a body part belonging to half the human race. Interesting, ain't it, that a body part is just about the most offensive word in the English language?
I even got yelled at for mentioning the book in public...oh well, guess I shouldn't have brought up the subject in playgroup, LOL! Luckily I live in Japan, so nobody fussed at me w
...more
sydney
I just re-read Cunt because I was feeling sorry about the lack of (conscious) feminism in my life lately. This book was a great kickstart.

Muscio's book deals with both the word "cunt" and the body part it has come to represent. She spends a short time explaining some of the word's origins and how it came to be so reviled, then launches into multiple chapters on cunts themselves: what they are, how they work, how they have been abused, and what women can do to ensure their respect.

I would have
...more
Anna
Warning: This book is pretty vulgar. I suppose the title could have tipped you off. Oddly, I expected a more academic book. A look at the word its history and its affect on our society. Muscio is anything but academic. She is an artist, and the book is filled with personal anecdotes and her thoughts on life. There is no stuffy distance between her and her writing.
Her approbation of menstrual blood made me uncomfortable (she enjoys watching it splash to the floor). Her retelling of her 3 abortio
...more
Amberly
I certainly appreciate Inga's passion and her motivation behind this book. And I love the title. However, I don't agree with a few of her thoughts; her view that we should only support businesses owned and operated by women, that we should live in fear and constantly suspect leering men of rape, her flippant view of abortion, and her credo to band together as women, and support each other no matter how much you might not personally like some chick. Well foo on that. There are plenty of corrupt a ...more
jessica
I have a story about this book:

When I was in college I worked at Barnes and Noble and I happened to be working in receiving when this book arrived. I pulled a stack of Cunts out of the box and asked the older, more conservative gentleman that I was working alongside a question about...where the book went or something, I can't remember exactly. He promptly gathered the Cunts up and said "This is what we do with books like this" and dumped them in a box of books to be returned to the publisher. He
...more
Kathleen
I should have been an easy audience for this book; after all, I accepted the blurb's premise almost a year before I picked up a copy. I'm a cunt; I've got a cunt; the etymological root of vagina means sheath for a sword; I don't define women by men. Sure, I'm there. I've been there for years.

But by Curie's irradiated notebook am I sick of spirituality and togetherness being woman's domain. We can absolutely talk about sea-sponges instead of tampons but lets not pretend that our half of the cultu
...more
Liz
(2011)

why do people like this book? it's irredeemably flaky, prescriptive, and essentialist. maybe I would have liked it if I'd read it as a younger person? I don't know. also the history/etymology is just terrible.

--

November, 2013: Someone had this book out on the coffee table, so I flicked through to see what I thought of it now. I came across this charming paragraph:

When I was twenty, my mother told me she had been raped. Five years passed before I found the courage to write about it.

It is
...more
Steven
Mar 02, 2008 Steven rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone open to reassessing their view of society
I read the first edition in high school and it was a complete paradigm shift for me -- it completely opened my eyes to looking at the world through a more critical lens in regards to socialization, power structures as they relate to historical context, and the harsh reality of women (as well as the privileges I had enjoyed up to that point in my life being male, gay or not). During high school, this book's impact was nothing less than a foundational block of my worldview.

This expanded and update
...more
Tiffany
Check out this review on my blog, Textual Orientation.

Cunt provokes. Cunt is hard to swallow. Cunt requires an open mind.

The marketing language is true: if you have a cunt, you should read it. I’ve read some scathing reviews of the book, and I’d be interested in getting a better sense of how it was initially received when it was released. This is the type of book you need to sit with for a while rather than pounce on, because Muscio’s positions are not easy to digest. She ignorantly claims that
...more
Elizabeth
Re-visiting this one as a few young women I know are headed off for college. I read it in the early aughts and it is now required reading in most Women's Studies programs/classes. It is still perfect reading for the 18-24 year old humorless feminist stage in life. Inga is at her strongest and most convincing when she explores rape and its consequences.

More importantly, I had forgotten how * fantastic * the reading lists are in Cunt. I would argue that the lists are the best part of the book. The
...more
Caris
Inga Muscio begins with the origins of the feminine labels utilized in our society and how they used to be positive terms descriptive of a strong sex. From there, she tackles freedom, abortion, rape, self-preservation, self-confidence, gay/lesbian issues, transgender issues, and the problems with America. She's heavy on opinion and light on documentation, but Muscio crafts a compelling argument.

I am a white, American male. This book was not written with me in mind. I think I may have gotten mor
...more
silchi
The way I felt about Cunt while reading wasn't always completely consistent. While I mostly always enjoyed reading the book itself, I more often than not found myself shaking my head or pursing my lips and sitting there and really thinking about what point Muscio brought up and offered to readers, and where I stood on it (quite often, I couldn't have been further from complete agreement with her).

Which, really, I think was the whole point of the book in the first place. It might be that, in fact
...more
HeavyReader
May 01, 2008 HeavyReader rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young feminists
Shelves: feminist
A wo-manifesto for the 3rd wave (and 4th?) or feminism.

I haven't read the new edition.

I wrote this review of Cunt for the Winter 1999/Spring 2000 issue of The MSRRT Newsletter. This was the last issue of The MSRRT Newsletter that I wrote for, possible the last issue of The MSRRT Newsletter that was ever produced.

Reading this book is a lot like listening to the righteous rants of your best girlfriend or beloved older sister. The author preaches and teaches a girl power that has little to do with
...more
Leilani
I know a lot of people who loved this book, so maybe I just missed something. I hated reading it because the chick wrote in a way that made it seem like she was the first person to ever come up with any of the points that she made. It was very boring.
G.R. Reader
I more or less went down on my knees and begged Inga not to do it, but some people are inherently self-destructive.
Penelope
I finished 'Cunt' a while back, but I wanted to take the time to let the content sink in before I reviewed it.

'Cunt' was quite the struggle to read through. Most of the content was interesting and although I didn't always agree with the author, it raised a lot of questions within me. Muscio's writing style however was less to my tastes. On several occasions I groaned at her way of wording things and her usage of words such as "lordisa" and "fucken ayyy" were annoying.

What becomes really obviou
...more
Maura
Apr 19, 2013 Maura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: thinking women
Shelves: school
What I appreciated most about this book was the afterward, updated several years after the initial publication, and reflecting much maturity. For me it was by far the best part of the book, and we see how the author has broadened her scopes and become less reliant on unnecessary crutches (excessive use of 'cuntified' vernacular, cutesy segues...)

My biggest complaint with this book is what I felt was a dismissive presentation of 'whoredom' (class and societal pressures that inform the decision to
...more
Amber manning-harris
i think everybody in the world should read this book. a straightforward look at how women have been treated through the ages, and how we live our lives in the present day. it opened my mind to issues i am immersed in everyday but continue to take for granted. this book helped me love myself just a little bit more, respect my sisters successes and failures, and to finally come to terms with my mothers raising. if only we could all live in world with more cuntlove in our hearts.

a book for anyone
...more
Blair
I have the habit of giving my sister books I think she should read instead of whatever she's actually asked for on normal present-giving holidays. This started with "The Perks of Being a Wallflower", but crossed into more intimate territory with Cunt. I wrote her a note in the cover and gave it to her. She loved it. She wrote a note in the cover and gave it to her friend. I hope the book keeps passing from hand to hand this way. I hope a copy finds you.

I've watched the moon daily since reading t
...more
Emily Reynolds
So this whole review has a huge disclaimer - this book is pretty much totally essentialist in its discussion of gender. Transgender issues aren’t even touched on - in this book, if you have a vagina you’re female and if you have a penis you’re male. It goes without saying that this is OBVIOUSLY hugely problematic, and while the author touches on this in the updated version of the book, it’s something that’s worth bearing in mind throughout reading.

One of the things I had the biggest problem wit
...more
Avory
This is a fabulous book, though I didn't give it five stars because I had a few specific issues with it. I think it's a great conscious-raising tome, but I do think that the fabulous personal style has the downside of giving way to the author's own, sometimes exclusive, specificity. Her approach to abortion, for example, is deeply troubling for pro-choice activists. In general, her approach to medicine and to food (all natural, all the time) is great but often untenable. I think it's important t ...more
Hayley
Inga Muscio is not concerned with being your friend. She is also not concerned with grammar, punctuation, or seeming academic. She is, however, concerned with righting the world’s wrongs and ending sexism by embracing the word ‘cunt.’
As a Women’s Studies/Creative Writing double major, I spend much of my time reading, writing, and critiquing feminist literature. Oftentimes, the academic can be too dry. ‘Cunt’ is many things, but dry it is not. The personal is always political, and Muscio’s manife
...more
Mysterium
Feb 21, 2012 Mysterium rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All Women, Young Women, Men Who Are Mature
Shelves: activist-thought, adult-themed, against-the-grain, alternative-lifestyles, autonomy, be-the-change, behind-closed-doors, birds-and-the-bees, blood-on-our-hands, break-the-cycle, cant-wait-for-more, cathartic, character-building, cheap-therapy, civil-rights, classics, consenting-adults, consistantly-great-author, controversial, counter-culture, creativity-at-its-best, cultural-studies, current-affairs, dirty-little-secrets, eccentric-unique-cool, education, express-yourself, family-portraits, favourites, freud-would-love-it, gender-issues, great-cover-art, growing-up, hard-to-put-down, hide-from-mom, history-repeats, homophobic-racist-sexist-themes, hope-for-victims-of-crime, how-to, human-rights, humour, inspirational, introspective, learning-tools, lgbt-queer-alternative-issues, liberal-views, lies-of-history-exposed, little-known-history, live-and-learn, makes-you-think, medical-reference-issues, mommy-daddy-dearest, my-body-your-body, non-fiction, our-government-at-its-worst, paradigm-shift, parenting, people-skills, personable-author, perspectives, philosophy, psychology, relationships, self-discovery, self-help, sexuality, sins-of-our-fathers, sociology, spirituality, strength-from-struggle, subject-for-debate, the-99-percent-speaks, the-pleasure-dome, think-outside-the-box, twisted-humour, ugly-america-and-americans, united-states-history, well-with-my-soul, womens-rights-issues, world-history, ya-appeal, feminist, not-for-all-but-should-be, sexism, empowerment, equality, ethics, great-title, its-only-a-word, power-to-the-people, open-your-mind, brutally-honest, sex-education, female-anatomy, womens-health, health-healthy-bodies
At first glance, an uneducated person would scream about the "vulgar title" and avoid this book at all costs. The term "cunt" was never a negative term until it got hijacked by the male dominated bigots of society. It's origin is actually one of power and beauty. Do your homework judgmental America. Sadly, this knee jerk reaction keeps many people from opening their minds and learning. This is a book of empowerment. This is a battle cry for all women, and men had better pay damn close attention. ...more
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“What happens to people living in a society where everyone in power is lying, stealing, cheating and killing, and in our hearts we all know this, but the consequences of facing all these lies are so monstrous, we keep on hoping that maybe the corporate government administration and media are on the level with us this time.
Americans remind me of survivors of domestic abuse.
This is always the hope that this is the very, very, very last time one's ribs get re-broken again. ”
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“when you educate yourself about clitoredectomies, infibulation, forced prostitution, rape as a war tactic, patriarchal religions, women painters, filmmakers, poets, writers, activists, politicians, sex-industry workers, historians, archelogoists and musicians, that’s self-protection.” 41 likes
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