Eve Ensler is a cunt.
Or so she claims in her famous one woman show, which I recently saw on DVD. I wonder how likely it is that she will succeed in restoring the word, shorn of its pejorative tone, to common, even polite, English. Her theory is that by adopting it as their own, women can make it a warm fuzzy thing again.
However celebrated Lenny Bruce's attempts to defang "nigger" were, it remains the unspeakable "n-word" forty years later. I suppose that Ensler's similar efforts with "cunt" will be similarly fruitless.
Whatever the social consequences, the linguistic ones are worse for Ensler's likely failure than Bruce's actual one. "Nigger" was never more than a slangily slurred version of "negro", which is no more than Spanish for "black".
"Cunt" is an authentic Anglo-Saxon word which has no synonym in English. Every other word is either a borrowing of a Latin word, or a slang that has become so familiar that it has been forgotten that it is a slang.
Curiously there seems to be no Anglo-Saxon male equivalent. Penis, like vagina, is a borrowed Latin word. "Dick", "prick", "cock", "Johnson", and so on, are all slangs.
The notion that English has no word for man's most treasured possession is endlessly amusing.
Ensler only tangentially addresses the subject of sexual repression in the youths of women now no longer young. This is a promising and interesting subject. But Ensler isn't interested. She is focussed on vaginas, not on the women who have them. Absent the women, it is just a discourse on an organ. Without the women and their sex lives and sexual feelings, the subject is of no greater interest than the "Pancreas Monologues" or the "Liver Monologues" would be.