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Why is “cunt” considered very offensive in the US but not in Australia?
Why is the word ‘cunt’ so offensive in America?
Because in America, as distinct from the Commonwealth, cunt is a reductive description of women, when used as an epithet. In the Commonwealth, the epithet mainly refers to men. It is certainly strong, but it can and is used jocularly, and even as a coarse affectionate term (if qualified with an adjective: e.g. clever cunt).
So in the Commonwealth, the word violates one taboo, and a minor one at that nowadays: sex. In the US, it also violates the much more salient contemporary taboo of misogyny.
[Originally posted on http://quora.com/Why-is-cunt-considered-very-offensive-in-the-US-but-not-in-Australia/answers/53030450]
Weeell, that’s not the whole story. In the U.S. at least (I can’t speak for elsewhere), the word is also strongly taboo when applied to its primary referent, lady bits. Women rarely use it of their own unless they are making a political point, and men who use it, even in bed, risk a pretty strong reaction of revulsion.
That is the same here in Australia. The used with male referents, though, is popular and gleeful, though crude.