Reclaiming The Word “pussy” In A Post-Trump Era

I’ve never been the type to shy away from using curse words or profanity. In fact, when I need to curse I’m pretty unapologetic about it.  Hearing people (men or women) use the word bitch doesn’t usually offend me either. And TMI talk, whether it’s about sex, period, or masturbation hardly phases me. And yet there was one word I could never stomach regardless of who said it or how it was said -- and it was pussy.

For me, pussy was a vulgar/porny word that was either used to graphically describe a woman’s vagina or a term men used to insult one another. Either way, it was always used in a context that suggested “weakness” and that never settled well with me. The only place I actually felt comfortable saying it was during sex and even there I’d sometimes struggle with feeling like I was somehow betraying my true feminist self.

My disgust for the word only deepened last year when Donald Trump’s notorious comments about grabbing women by the genitals surfaced. In the recording Trump is heard conversing with Access Hollywood host Billy Bush about women aboard a bus on the set of Days of Our Lives.

One of the things he was heard saying was: “I did try and fuck her. She was married. I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping … I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there, and she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything.” But it only got worse from there. Trump went on to say a line that wasn’t just disgusting but incredibly violating: “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women] – I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Trump’s words were beyond offensive. They were the root of sexual violence and he was bragging about it. It was further proof that he sees women not just as objects but as a means for men’s sexual gratification. To hear a man speak so violently towards women while using the p-word only confirmed my disgust with the word in the first place.

When I heard those lines I felt as if Trump was saying that no woman actually owns her pussy because any man such as himself can take it or grab it whenever he wanted. The word pussy was a word that I had associated with sexual violence and weakness and now more than ever. Trump and men like Trump, think they have ownership over women’s bodies and believe women are too weak to do anything about it.

At this point I had even contemplated taking the word completely out of my vocabulary – like in my sex life too! But when the women of America chose to fight back, everything changed for me.

On January 21, 2017, the Women’s March happened. Not just in Washington, but in major cities throughout the country and around the world. These marches were not just about being in opposition to Donald Trump, but highlighted important issues we saw coming under threat from the Trump administration such as reproductive rights, equal pay, affordable health care, action, and climate control.

I walked in the Women’s March in NYC alongside a few of my close girlfriends. “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights,” are just one of the many quotes I saw written on numerous signs. I also saw a number of signs with the word “pussy” written across and hundreds of women sporting pink knitted hats with cat ears called “Pussyhats.” These hats were actually from the Pussyhat Project, a movement that began after the November election in anticipation of the Women’s March.

The idea is both a play on pussyhat, pussycat, and also references the hot mic from the Access Hollywood video. It does reference Donald Trump and those comments, but it’s also so much more,” Jayana Zweiman, one of the founders behind the project told Glamour. “It’s reappropriating the word “pussy” in a positive way. It’s a pussyhat – one word. This is a project about women supporting women.”

That’s when it all dawned on me. The word “pussy” has been used for years in a very negative and degrading way. But what I hadn’t realized before was that being so afraid of a word that really just meant vagina, was probably doing more damage than good to women. It was treating a word that also meant vagina like a dirty, nasty curse word. But now women were taking that same word that Trump used to make us seem like weak, oversexualized objects and turning it into something that was strong and empowering and that to me was inspiring

If I can take a word that’s been used for so many years in a degrading, pornographic, and derogatory way to mean something that’s a lot more positive, feminist, and empowering, I’m telling men like Donald Trump that they have NO RIGHT to grab or even come near my pussy without my consent. I’m telling them that the only person that owns this pussy is me and no one else. And I’m telling them that my pussy – my vagina – is everything but weak and to me that’s what true power is really about.

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Written by Johanna Ferreira

You can find Johanna's bio and another story here.