How offensive is the word "cunt"?
Two members have just stated that a man using "the C word" is exactly the same as a white person using "the N word". It is my personal philosophy that how offensive a word is, is directly proportional to the plight suffered by the group the word is meant to malign. Personally, I think that slavery and a couple hundred years of intense, systemic racism is far worse than what women have suffered, and I'd imagine that comparison would be pretty offensive to African Americans. I also think that the N word is pretty universally offensive, whereas cunt is used for men and women all over the world with varying levels of offense (and sometimes even as a sort of term of endearment). I, however, am not a woman or African American, so I'm just guessing. They told me to take a poll. Here it is. Feel free to explain your view in the comments.
In the UK its a mild slur. Personnally I was cunty before cunty was cool. I was a "trouble maker" for complaining that a co worker would yell faggot" across the room. I have witnessed the evolution of "fuck" becoming socially excessive & the word "nigger" becoming a hot button slur as "fuck" was in the past. Language is always evolving if it is alive. Just ask Latin. If it offended me, then I am giving power to that word. Actions offend me. Words do not. Opinions can offend me. A one word insult does not. What offends me is hate. I have a cunt so why would I be offended by what most heterosexual men try to climb back into where they came out of. Say it LOUD. I'm a cunt & I am proud.
As a person with a bit of a Scottish ethic and an education, none of them bother me. I am also part Haudenosaunee. The issue comes up about the word "Sqaw" (an Algonkian word) and even a lot of Native are misguided by popular "woke" media BS about the use of the word. To Natives such words were just descriptive and no more disparaging that if a pissed-off woman was to say "Men!". And the word "Nigger" is simply a bastardization of the Latin word for Black, which was applied to the area where the people were much darker than the Romans. And then this same word was used to describe the people from that and similar areas. Its use as a pejorative is merely a situative construct. The same is true of the word "Retard". Any word used to describe something can be used to be insultive. Banning words is just plain stupid because it diminishes language without any benefit.
I think much depends on your place of origin.
For a Yank, the word "bugger" just means a mildly annoying person, yet for a person from the UK or Australia, it is a highly offensive and vulgar term with strong homosexual connotations.
By contrast, your chosen word "cunt" is highly offensive in the US but I am led to believe it is not at all interpreted this way by our Aussie cousins.
But "the N word" as you say, is meant to describe someone as less than human. I would expect this to be offensive no matter where you are from and no matter who speaks it.
But I suppose that's just me.
They are not equivalent because they are offensive for different reasons, and context counts. I am restating my observation, or belaboring it if you will, that the OP began with the bias of the words not being equally offensive, as evidenced by the use of "N word", versus use of "cunt". Just restating because I hadn't clearly stated that the different presentations of the words indicated an up front bias for this discussion.
Just because they are not equal, does not mean that one is more acceptable than the other.
As an aside, it is ridiculous that we (and by we I mean everyone, not just in this thread) can't spell out the actual words, especially in an academic. I won't do so here because I am sure some ignorant person will be upset, as unreasonable as that is (hey, it's the Internet).
"N word" belongs to blacks and "C word" belongs to women. "Bitch" also belongs to women, and some gay guys. (This is humor!)
The word may be as revolting as the other, & words can influence of course, but a word thrown at me as an insult is attempting to denigrate me & I choose to deny power to that word. I protested inappropriate words yelled across a work space as it create a hostile work environ. Tho it is different with others who do feel the power of words and are offended. It says more of the one who hurls the word. Working among men, one must have a quick comeback & a thick skin. And also a muted sense of smell.
"I am a white cis woman, those are not equivalent." And that vote/statement informs you of absolutely nothing.
The two terms -- their histories (from various perspectives) & situational uses (vastly different and multitudinous ways and relationships involved) by different individuals (across genders, sexualities, races, skin tones, nationalities, migrant histories, etc.) --
are not comparable.
Your self stated 'philosophy' of proportional & comparative 'plight' being relevant to offense expected to be felt, or perceived to be intended, is also a bit BS.
In my opinion, a cunt is gloriously pleasurable, with extraordinary capabilities. With very few exceptions, you either have one, or you don't.
To equate something beautiful & amazing with extreme negative judgement of someone, especially by someone without one and/or of someone without one, is ludicrous.
That using cunt as a derogatory/accusatory term has become a cultural habit, anywhere, is sadly mysogynistic, contrary and ridiculous - at the same time - especially, to &/or from cis men. Of course I've used it, under my breath; just as I've exclaimed Oh My God!, and God bless you!. I'm still fighting automated thoughts, from cultural indoctrination. But we should all do better, rather than excuse ourselves.
The 'plight' of any woman (at the hands of any man, or as a victim of a society), or their being a lesser 'plight' to consider, is not relevant to trying to excuse the derogatory use of the word.
If you're not trying to validate excuses for yourself, your purpose seems obscure, to me.
Perhaps you think you're a funny cunt; but, I think you're not that funny, nor that fabulous.
I didn't answer because context is most important. Any word is just a word until someone gives it power to be offensive, but the better question is why use any word that is offensive to anyone?
My personal experience, growing up in the US, is that the C word is extremely offensive. Other countries see it at different levels of offensiveness, and sometimes not offensive at all. The N word is also extremely offensive here, although certain people are allowed to use it. I don't know for a fact that it is universally offensive. While some blacks may use the N word, women generally do not use the C word, in the US. These are very general observations, of course. I think the potential utterer may have different reasons for using or not using either of the words. I don't use either of them because I find both offensive.
Maybe your friend's statement about them being equal was intended as a simple, short cut explanation.