Pussy & Proud

Pussy & Proud

An Apology (of sorts)

I have a confession (and an apology) to make.  In jest, I  described Badal Ja! to certain (male) friends of mine as a ‘pussy empowerment website’, and as soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I made a mistake – kind of.

I immediately felt guilty and confused. Why had I chosen such a questionable phrase out of so many possibilities to describe something that I feel so passionately about?  Yet, I also knew that when I had used the words ‘Pussy Empowerment,’ my intent was twofold:

  • To remove the somewhat threatening and boring aspects of gender equality by making it more appealing to the opposite sex.
  • To re-appropriate the word ‘Pussy’. To turn it into a phrase of feminine power rather than a word that signifies weakness or sexual objectification.

To Assume Makes an Ass out of U and ME

When I used the words ‘pussy empowerment’, I worried that I had succumbed to objectifying my own gender justice project by equating it to a sex organ.

I, a woman, am more than the sum of my body parts. I know this. I believe this deeply – yet subconsciously, I fell into the trap of objectification to make Badal Ja! more appealing for my male counterparts (or so I assumed).

I insulted the intelligence of my male friends by assuming that the only way to reach out to them on a ‘relatable level’ was to subject my own website to the same gender objectification that we fight against. I assumed that they did not have the capacity or willingness to relate to the sometimes heavy discourse and threatening aspects of gender equality.

At Badal Ja!, we often discus at length the derogatory language and objectification of women that occur daily, whether it be from our friends, media, workplaces, politicians or ourselves.  I really should have known better than to use the phrase ‘Pussy Empowerment’ for that purpose – even if it was in jest.

So, for these assumptions and unintended objectification, I must apologise to my friends and wonderful Badal Ja! counterparts. Yet, like most things, it’s complicated and the story doesn’t end there.

What’s in a Word?

How we choose to express ourselves verbally has a strong implication on how we convey our views, how others perceive the subject, and how they view us as individuals. Entire revolutions, genocides, and wars have started and ended on the basis of words alone.

pussy and proud - badal ja If we know the power of language, it baffles and saddens me that we have created a culture where we consistently use our sex organs to insult or objectify people. The words ‘Pussy’, ‘Cock’, ‘Dick’, ‘Cunt’, ‘Ass/Hole’, ‘Tool’, are all used to insult people daily without thinking. In Hindi, it is no different; we use ‘Chute’, ‘Gand’ and ‘Lund’ on a regular basis without a second thought.

We also consistently use words like ‘whore’, ‘slut’, and ‘fuck’ to inflict emotional damage and express negativity to others. ‘Rape’ is another example of a word that is used to express destruction by something or of something, either in a positive or negative sense; ‘our team raped them’ or ‘that test raped me’. How we as a culture can use such a violent word casually in conversation is beyond my understanding.

Duke University recently launched a campaign titled ‘You Don’t Say’ to highlight some of the everyday words we use that perpetuate abusive (gender) stereotypes. It is a stark & much needed reminder that we are all responsible for our own word choices and only through conscious use or disuse of words can we then create a shift towards positive, non-prejudice language and culture. This concept applies to our relationship with sex, sexuality and our sex organs.

Can Words Really Be Reappropriated?

The word pussy, regardless of its origins, has been used so often to describe men’s weakness and/or women as a sex object in media and pop culture that re-appropriating the term while it’s still being used in a negative sense seems like an uphill battle.

Reappropriation is when you take something that was once used as a way to demean and transform it into something to be proud of. An example of a somewhat successful reappropriation is that of the word ‘geek’. Up until the mid-1990s, being called a geek was exclusively a negative thing.  However, with the rise of movies and TV shows like the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Community, Big Bang Theory, fashion statements like ‘Nerdy’ Glasses, and icons like Steve Jobs – all of a sudden, being a geek has become cool—and even sexy.

This means when we consciously choose to make the shift as a larger community, the reappropriation of a word also leads to the evolution of culture. It took about 20 years to reclaim the word ‘geek’, but little nerdy children today are so grateful to you all for it.

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For the Love of Pussies and Dicks

Even though I had used the word ‘pussy’ in an objectifying way, I also know I used it in a loving way; as a term of endearment for my vagina and all the things related to empowering myself as a woman. And why shouldn’t I? Pussies Are Amazing. I should be proud to be compared to a pussy! They create life, self-clean, provide so much pleasure (there are 8000 nerve endings in the clitoris), and can collapse or expand over 200x depending on states of arousal.

The same goes for comparing anyone or anything to a ‘dick’. Dicks Are Amazing.  They too create life, provide pleasure and can provide skin for skin grafts for burn victims (gross, but amazing!).

pussy and proud - badal ja

My comparing Badal Ja! to a pussy does not make it any less valid. In fact, I think it has the opposite effect—comparing it to a beautiful sex organ like the vagina makes it more powerful, beautiful, adaptable, more, and definitely more resilient (childbirth, anybody?).

Pussy and Proud

It is disturbing that as a culture we seem to have reduced our sex organs and sexuality to a toy or something abrasive or mean (dick), weak or replaceable (pussy), arrogant (asshole), vulgar (cunt), stupid (gay), objectified (package, box) and so on.

What would happen if we used those words to mean positive, beautiful things? How would our relationship to our own sex organs—and to our sexuality—change?

I ask you to consider: When was the last time that you actually said to yourself, I love my vagina/penis? When was the last time you really looked at your sex organ? Are you shy to? If you are not shy to look at your hands or legs, why is your sex organ any different?

The answers to these questions are personal, but I encourage you to reflect on them—and to think carefully the next time you insult someone by referring to a sex organ to point out their negative aspects.

More than that, however, I urge you all, to focus more on the reclaiming of these sexual words. Rather than using them as insults, use them as expressions of positivity, beauty, strength and vigour. I know it may lead to some confusion, but your daughters, sons, grandsons and granddaughters will be so grateful that you did. They should not grow up with the same shame of their gender/sex/sexuality and objectification that we have had to face growing up. And we are the only ones who can change that.

So folks, say it with me: (I am a) Pussy and Proud!

pussy and proud - badal ja