My problem with censorship

I originally wrote this thinkpiece when I did Scottee’s ‘Notepad Warrior’ course as one of the initial exercises. Picked up my notepad to read through it to find myself, and I found this. Thought I’d share, gives a bit of insight into my brain if nothing else.

I am at my parents’ house flicking through the music channels. Stefflon Don’s Real Ting comes on one of the MTV channels and I’m digging it so I keep it on.

In the middle of the track, an entire two bars is censored and the cut the vocal completely. Silenced due to censorship.

**I am rewriting this a year later, in a skatepark with my boyfriend, so I have limited access to research what the erased lines were. From looking at the lyrics online, I THINK it’s these:
A cocky fi ah send up in that pussy ’til it buck
Cocky fi ah send up in that pussy ’til it buck**

If we ask a man to say those words, I wonder what would get cut to expletives. Problaby just the word pussy, but hey, at least they didn’t say cunt.

Why is cunt such a sensual word? Why are we all so scared of it? And the word “vagina”. Women’s mags write articles about ‘sex in fashion’ but only dare to flash a nip slip. In my sample size of Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Elle, not once do they mention the word vagina or clit or even body hair or armpits or fat or holes or any of that good female shit.

But fittingly, they talked of condom capes and more nipples (and we see actual model nipples) and sex appeal and fucking fabric like latex to make us smooth and pseudo-nude.

I find it ridiculous that it is considered radical to leave armpits unshaven or use the word vulva or clit in a non-medical, non-porno setting. Imagine a pornstar yelling “touch my vulva”. It’s weird, right? That’s because the word connotes so much more power than the word pussy does. We’re conditioned to conform to a censored and commodified industry, and feel uncomfortable at deconstructing things to call them by a better name. If I don’t censor myself I am unconditioned and a threat. I’m the cunt.

As Chimimanda Adiche said, “we teach girls to shrink themselves” & that’s the core of what censorship is. It’s boundaries and pixelation and moulding but it is not universal. Because y’know, a woman can’t say the word vagina round the dinner table without hearing the dust pop in gaping mouths, but you can turn on a music channel pre-watershed and see a female arse part to barely-there panties with a man telling her how much he would destroy it. Yes, I said panties, it’s what the rapper in the music video would say.

If something is uncensored it is offensive. The word cunt is really offensive. I think it’s a strong example of the arbritary correlation between gender and offence. ‘Cunt’ is innately gendered as female, even if it no longer is used to describe us. ‘Fuck’ is less offensive, can be said out of context, because it is masculine sounding. It feels heavy in the mouth. Maybe it’s just me that thinks that.

I hate how intrinsically linked to and obsessed with language; I let it hold me in its giant plant pot hands and I only grow when it tells me to, when the words are watered.

Censorship uses language, signifiers and signifieds, to take power away from the censoree. It stems back to this clogged cartilage idea that we women need boundaries and governance in our thoughts. I will not take it anymore. I want to be offensive, I will walk on uncensored, we shall fuck on uncensored. Use language without dilution, cunt will be our retribution.

By Charley Genever

Emerging poet from Peterborough addicted to words would like to meet similar minded folk to engage in a poetry revolution.

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