Foreword II

Cunt is a necessary book, one of the most important books in print today, not only for bio and trans-women, as it obviously is, but for men-folk and dyke boys as well. And it is important not only for those whose cunts or other body parts or lives have been scarred by the deathly culture in which we find ourselves immersed. When you count rape survivors, domestic violence survivors, those who love those survivors, wage slaves, survivors of public or private education, all of us now living on a planet which is being killed before our eyes, it certainly encompasses more or less all of us. Cunt is also for those who, against all odds, may actually retain shreds of their original sanity.

Cunt is a celebration, not only of cunts but of all life. Cunts are life, as are pricks, kneecaps, elbows, fingernails, the tails of tadpoles, redwood needles, and the sandy red soil we taste between foreteeth and tongue. Cunt explores this life, rolls this life gently between fingertips, more gently across the soft skin of lower belly, and more gently still between still-softer thighs. The book tells us—whole or scarred—how to live, as life tells us how to live, as our bodies tell us how to live, as fingertips, elbows, pricks, and cunts tell us how to live. As the soil tells us how to live. They’re all the same. Only different.

I first read Cunt last year, long after it had changed the lives of many people. It took me a day. I picked it up as the sun cleared the trees to the southeast, and didn’t put it down till the book was done and the sun was well on its way back down the blue hill above. It was a day that changed my life. I have read the book several times since, and each time have learned more about the women in my life, more about my own life, more about life in general. And I’ve learned about the culture, about the way men are trained to terrorize women and children. And I’ve learned what women, and children, are doing about that.

We may as well acknowledge that we’re all fucked.

I don’t mean this in the delightful sense of lovers coming together, meeting in the middle of their hearts and minds and bodies, but in the sense that we’re in far more trouble than words—even words as powerful as Inga Muscio’s—can say. Wild salmon are disappearing, as are great apes, coral reefs, native earthworms, wild forests, wild places of all stripes. Last week two more huge chunks of Antarctica fell into the sea. Dioxin contaminates polar bear fat, and it contaminates mother’s milk. Three corporations control more than 80 percent of the beef market, and seven corporations control more than 90 percent of the grain market. Military scientists have placed computer chips in the brains of rats, and can force the creatures to go left, right, backward, forward by pushing buttons on keyboards. Imagine the fun the scientists would have if they figure out how to do this with women’s hips.

We’re fucked. We all know the numbers. We know that twenty-five percent of all women in this culture are raped within their lifetimes, and another nineteen percent have to fend off rape attempts. Which means of course that unless one guy is excruciatingly busy, an awful lot of men are rapists. We know that as many as forty-four million American women have been molested by relatives, with twelve million of those molested by their fathers. We know also that 565,000 American children are killed or injured every year by their parents or guardians.

We know, too, that there are more slaves in the world today than came across on the Middle Passage. And we know that in the 1830s a slave in the American South cost between $500 and $1000, the equivalent of $50,000 to $100,000 today. And now a slave costs about $50, making them not even a capital but a simple expense, to be used up and thrown away.

We’re fucked.

This is where Cunt comes in. If we’re so fucked, one might reasonably ask, why not just go ahead and off ourselves? Cunt gives the answer (as do our cunts, pricks, elbows, kneecaps, and as do all the wild and free creatures on the planet): life is good. Life is really, really good. Not mediated life. Not televisions, cars, stereos, jobs, professional sports, colognes, perfumes, skyscrapers, steel, asphalt, brick, mortar. But life. Waking up with the sun on your face. Tasting your lover’s sweat. Smelling their scent. Stubbing your toe, petting a dog, french-kissing a tree (but only if the tree agrees), helping your mother plant her garden, feeling your body grow heavy at the end of a hard day, and waiting to catch up to your dreams.

But to merely reside in the sensual as the world burns isn’t good enough. Nor is it good enough merely to mourn the losses both inside and out. Both of these are necessary, but not sufficient. And here Cunt helps again. If things are so bad, one can also ask (this time unreasonably, I think), why not just withdraw into the sensual, why not just party (or cry)? Because, I think Cunt makes clear, this question reveals nothing neither more nor less than an inability to love. If you’re in love, with your life, with your body, with your lover, with the tree outside your door, with the world that gives rise to all of these, the fact that we’re all deeply, deeply fucked doesn’t matter a damn to your actions: if you’re in love, you act to protect your beloved.

In the end, Cunt is about love, as are cunts, pricks, elbows, as is the soft flesh of puppies’ ears, as are the spines of thistles and the sharp edges of blades of grass.

If we are to survive, we must reclaim our planet from those corporations which—and people who—are destroying it. But even before this, we must reclaim our own bodies and our hearts from that same grasp. Cunt helps us do that, helps us find our way back to our cunts, pricks, elbows, kneecaps, and perhaps most important of all, our hearts.

—Derrick Jensen
May 2002

 

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