From Shakespeare’s ‘country matters’ to every second word Malcolm Tucker pronounces, the word ‘cunt’ is deeply embedded in white British culture. While using it as a descriptor of female genitalia is frowned upon, it is entirely acceptable to use this word as an insult for people in a variety of circumstances.
Between friends (usually male), it is a jocular moniker. If you are describing Keane or Razorlight, no other word will do them justice. Aimed at a Tory politician, it is deadly serious, as demonstrated by Jarvis Cocker’s best song of recent times, (Cunts Are Still) Running the World.
The harsh sounds of ‘c’ and ‘t’ make it a deeply satisfying word to use, which partly explains why white Brits call someone a cunt on pretty much a daily basis. A large part of the comedy lies in the contrast created by the crudity of the word and the relatively posh accents of white Brits, much in the same way as attempting to rap makes them look both adorable and tragic. White Brits take great pride in the knowledge that the word is considered shocking by more moralising outsiders, and the more inappropriate the situation, the funnier the effect is deemed to be. It is worth noting that many white British girls suggest that its status as ‘the worst possible swearword’ belies deep misogynistic tendencies, and they therefore make a point of using it nonchalantly.
Perhaps the apotheosis of this word is its use in Withnail and I, when Withnail exclaims ‘Monty, you terrible cunt.’ This particular phrase is particularly in vogue as a term of endearment among close friends.