Pussy Pride Guest Post – On The Naming of Cats

By on July 24, 2013.

Last week on Twitter I got involved in a discussion about the names we use for women’s genitalia which started after I tweeted about my hatred for the term ‘Front Bottom’ (more on my thoughts on that in another post) as a result a conversation evolved about the various terms and words we use and how people felt about them. One of those people who joined in was Jane Fae.

“Jane is a writer, journalist, campaigner and feminist. As a woman of trans history, she brings a somewhat different perspective to this most personal of topics, having grown up “without”…and only finding herself, somewhat late in life, undergoing experiences that most of us get sorted in our teens (or younger).

“She is very conscious of her status as a “re-virgin” and finds herself exploring her body and sexuality in a very different light.  Not quite a second puberty: but certainly a re-evaluation.

Jane and I have known each other for a while now and have been discussing the idea of her writing something for The Pussy Pride Project based on her own experiences as a woman of trans history. For now, that post is something she is still formulating but in the meantime she has shared this amazing post on her thoughts about names.

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On the naming of Cats (and pussies, too) By Jane Fae

Once upon a time – and apparently to the great annoyance of certain friends – I did not name my cat.

OK.  This was ever-so-slightly mischievous.  I also explained that I had not named my cat because he had not told me his name, and this seemed to enrage some people even more. But buried just below the surface of what might seem like a bout of fuzzy-headed  blondeness is a point hard as iron.

In naming things, we define them – and to define is to constrain. That’s why, often, i spend a lot of time evading noun-words. I am interested in what people do, who they are, what waves they make as they move through life.  To nail them to a word is to limit.

As people, so pussies.  No: cunts.  Vadges.  Vaginas.  Vulvas. Or, as I learned today, cipunie (pronounced cheepoonye, which is Polish for same, and quite sweet).

Each and every word comes with baggage, rooted in culture and gender and an evolving battle around the right of women to autonomy in respect of their bodies. I write personally here – how could I do any other? – but perhaps I bring to this debate a slightly different perspective: that of a writer, or someone who has written erotica, both in and not in possession of a vagina.  Or – see how words define debate – a neo-vagina, as some medics and many transphobics might call it.

I really don’t know how I managed to write such stuff BEFORE. I wasn’t a happy bunny, body-wise: not a great fan of penetrative sex, constantly seeking permission even to go there in literary terms – and probably, in that respect, different from many guys who write erotica.

For they leap in, occupy the territory – and the words – in a way that instantly feels aggressive, appropriating.

Cunt:  it’s there to shock.  Proof that a “real man” has conquered that bit of anatomy – and perhaps, for that reason, a word rarely, if ever, on my lips. Manhole?  Ugh! Another flag on the map.

Slash?  Slit?  No.

Front bottom?  Oh, puh-lease!

I took refuge in cuddle words, like beaver and pussy, all the time faintly aware that such cutesiness was annoying to many women. (Though obviously not to all, as the title of this site makes all too clear!)

I wrote erotica that, apparently worked: though no thanks to my description of the sex or associated anatomy. It worked because my focus then, as now, was on the (erotic) feelings and relationships involved.

What a difference an op makes! Another piece, another time on what it feels like “down there”…not just now, but how those feelings have evolved.

Still, the biggest shift in perspective of all is the shift from viewing that particular piece of anatomy as something alien, out there, to something that applies to me.  The obvious shifts are, well, obvious. Its much easier, more natural to use “proper” terms…like vagina and vulva.  No longer that slight mental catch as I wonder whether I’m being rude or inappropriate. Though I retain a slight antipathy towards vulva, which I always rhyme, inside my head, with Volvo, and makes me think of cars.

The cute words are gone.  Mostly. If you see me mention pussy any time soon, shoot me!  I feel  its presence in my vocabulary shrinking, just as cunt is growing, emerging from the shadows.

Maybe that will change: for me, now, pussy remains associated, still, with male prissiness.  An inability to deal openly with the reality of female sex.  As with so much else associated with gender, it may be that I need to create a distance, before re-embracing it.

Cunt, on the other hand, is so obviously powerful: it’s just that, like some Tolkienesque elven princess, handed a talisman of great power, I am still at the simper stage. Am I WORTHY to utter its name?  Have I the skill to use it?  (I think that line of metaphor needs to stop there, before it falls into utter smuttiness!).

But I get it.  I understand it: understand the absolute imperative for women to own the words that encompass, that define their bodies.

Interestingly – I just checked!  – the latest erotic story I wrote doesn’t contain a word  for vagina, in any shape or form.  I manage several hundred words of quite intense sex, describing feelings, sensations, intense sticky fucking without any apparent need to name the parts involved at all.

Deep psychology?  Or just my continuing distaste for the naming of things, no matter whether cats, pussies or anything else!

*You can find more writing by Jane on her blog Jane Fae (Part II) and you can follow on her Twitter: @Janefae

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Molly Moore - Author, Blogger, Photographer, Speaker
Find me in my corner of the internet at Molly's Daily Kiss
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  1. the more i write and the more I run out of words, the more I realize that all words about our bodies have baggage, Each one offends someone, or turns them off, or makes them giggle. I have the same problem with the male bits. Some names are just too silly, others to base, and some just don’t capture the moment. Oh well. I’ll keep reading and writing and, on occasion, calling my brother a Dick, when really he’s just being a Pussy.
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