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papabayj

be good to yourself.

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controversy

I said a bad word.

So this time last week I was in trouble on social media for using the c word. Simultaneously, an article I wrote about the impotence of domestic violence campaigns was reposted by a very prolific current affairs website. They printed the word ‘cunt’ in full, no asterisks, and although they’ve now replaced it with ‘imbecile’ and taken it off facebook, I was galvanised by their inclusion. All the people who called me misogynistic, hypocritical and the many more who just told anyone who’d read it how abominable the use of the word was didn’t seem to understand (or care to) as to why I used it. I’m going to do my best to explain.

Before I begin, I’d like to point out how disappointing it was to see people take one word out of an article and brandish it around in turn as a weapon against taking any responsibility for what the article was really about. You know what’s worse than the c word? People who beat their partners.

I had never thought critically about the word ‘cunt’ until I heard it being reclaimed in Eve Ensler’s ‘The Vagina Monologues’. It was one of MANY things I learned in that show about women and vaginas, and I wholeheartedly agreed that we should use the word with more reverence and celebration. Pity of it is, I seemed to be the only one who ever carried through on my oath, and this is when I discovered something fantastic:

‘Cunt’ is the most powerful word in the English language.

Am I wrong? Can you think of any word that sparks more controversy and passion? I genuinely believe that regardless of its origins, ‘cunt’ is still a word that in spite of being reclaimed by many a staunch feminist, is still regarded with hush and uncertainty. When I wrote an article about how important it was to take any steps necessary to end domestic violence by disrupting abusers, I could think of no better tool to disrupt than the word ‘cunt’. And I was 100% right. The article has now been shared 742 times, and commented on over 100 times which is pretty impressive for a first-time-not-about-Amy-Schumer writer.

Addressing the word’s origins, legitimate are concerns that we would give negative connotations to female genitalia to abuse some of the lowest forms of human. I do concede that had I chosen a different word, perhaps the point would have had a better chance to marinate, which was my hope for the piece.

To be honest, I couldn’t think of much to be more empowering than discursively-weaponising women in this manner, by the word ‘cunt’ activating its power to defend itself against this dreadful state of affairs. I offered several alternatives to people wanting to share it or quote it, but in the end all of them stuck with ‘cunt’, no asterisks. There is no way advertisers or organisations would use the c word in their campaigns, but by reading it in my article they might think twice about just how hard they’re pushing the boundaries and holding abusers accountable. That was the point.

I am ever reminded how powerful language is, and thankful to those who could see past language and indignation to the actual purpose of the piece. I’m amazed by what lengths people will go to avoid taking action, and continue to write in hopes that I will someday disrupt even them to step away from their screens and start making history.

 

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from facebook today: On Art and Terror

Seems like 2015 is a year we’re going to put Art right under the lights.

Isaac Newton told us every action has a reaction. John Lennon was made the martyr he didn’t wish to be by a man inspired by a book. Galileo was locked up several times for his astronomical discoveries. Journalists have been captured overseas for decades, only now are they simply not being released. The stereotypes and comedy instilled by wartime propaganda are still in effect today, around Jewish people, Asian individuals, homosexuals, women and the Nazi movement-regardless of what truth was ever contained therein. Some time ago now society at large watched in fear and resignation as Christians shipped around the world to concert or cull and they called it a Crusade. It is still called a Mission today and though they’re not killing your neighbours, it’s still happening. Sia made a pop music video which is being called out for promoting pedophilia because men over a certain age cannot interact with women under a certain age.

We see it makes no difference which religion it is, for it is the people who commit the crime. And then we can’t just chuck out religion in favour of “reason” because we haven’t removed violence, just the justifying foundation upon which violent people build their art. And those who use the same foundation for hope and salvation while bombs fall on their homes or troops roam their streets, well I guess it’ll just be tough(er) for them. A father tried to detonate his own daughter recently in Africa.

Charles Manson has as much of a message as Marilyn Manson. We know what risks we take when we create, we know what damage Art can do. Some of us are just hobbyists, some lifelong believers, fellows and preachers of the virtue of Art. Some try and extol Art’s value by running therapies and workshops. Some of us are preachers who take to mass media and wide followers to talk about our type of art and what it to be gained by avowing to it, making pilgrimages to where we’ve hung it up like a proverbial multimedia Jesus. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Here’s the thing: stop living like this. Stop going to Syria to report on private politics without thinking you might be caught. Stop running documentaries on Eastern spiritualities shooting inside inner sanctums of churches you’ve been specifically asked to keep sacrosanct and then crack it when you’re kicked out. Stop going swimming in the oceans thinking that there’s no chance a shark will attack you for coming into his house. Stop drawing and writing about the Prophet believing you’re justified by the unwritten laws of “satire” that your offended audience don’t understand or have a word for. Stop provoking the Henny-Pennys by making a video with an underage girl and adult male in underwear and expecting they’ll get you (which she didn’t I’ll note. Good work Sia.). Stop commenting on these sieges and skirmishes like they aren’t part of a real World War that’s been going at large since America got involved. Stop saying we should just bomb the Middle East because we already are. Stop living like nothing has a consequence and that you can just do what you want without any repercussions or impingements on your life. I am not writing this blog thinking it will make much difference, and if I get shut down or put on a list well so be it because I’m not ashamed or unsure about my actions or their potential reactions.

I am truly saddened by the deaths of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. But Charlie Hebdo itself is still alive and isn’t afraid. So we know what the possibilities are, we’ve been told the consequences of the free and unpredictable world and we’re making choices. We’re all going to offend someone at some point, and we’re all going to die someday. So be who you are, use your talent wisely knowing the weapon it can be, and commit to the way you use it so when it’s all over, you’ll know it couldn’t have gone any other way.

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