In a recent discussion about my Google Plus post on Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj, we had a great conversation about the “C word.” A woman reader initially used this word in the thread to express her exasperation over the racist imagery in Swift’s latest video. I warned the reader that I don’t allow this word as a descriptor for women on my threads (though I’ve previously written that I support the idea of changing the meaning of this word to something positive). We had a terrific chat about whether or not it’s useful for women to use this word. Below is a comical illustration of why this word’s negative connotation is so damaging: it figuratively uses women’s bodies as the worst insult in the English language, equating a vagina, and thus women’s sex, with weakness and vulgarity.
In the 30 Rock episode, “The C Word” Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) overhears a staff member calling her “the C word,” which prompts her to explain to her male colleagues why she finds the word offensive. The episode shows the stress Lemon faces as a woman manager, as she temporarily decides to act “nicer” to her staff to alter their opinion of her. She later recognises that this behaviour alteration is not demanded of male managers. Fey has said in interviews the episode was inspired by having a similar professional experience “and not knowing how to deal with it.”