Dads Against the Divorce Industry

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Cuntfest brings empowerment to Penn State

Collegian Staff Writer

Empowering to some, offensive to others, Cuntfest arrives at Penn State this Saturday.

The all-day festival, sponsored by Womyn's Concerns and the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, is inspired by Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, a book by Inga Muscio. Muscio feels the word, which once had positive connotations, should be reclaimed by women.

In her book, Muscio says 'cunt' stems from words that were either titles of respect for women, priestesses and witches, or derivatives of goddesses' names.

"Cunt originally started off as a good word," said Michelle Yates (junior-women's studies), who initiated the event. "And it got transformed into one of the worst words you can call a woman."

The word's negative connotation was not lost on Penn State Police Services, who received a number of complaints Wednesday about a Cuntfest banner on the Osmond building.

"It didn't take long for people to get offended by it," said Bruce Kline, assistant director of Penn State police.

The police removed the banner less than half an hour after Yates hung it, Yates said. Soon after, she told the police she had written permission to hang the banner, and they hung it back up within several hours.

"It was a mistake to take it down," Kline said.

The festival's organizers also faced hesitation about their event's title from the University Park Allocation Committee, which distributes income from the Student Activity Fee.

"The name of the event was of concern to the committee," Eddie Elizondo, overall chair of UPAC, said. "We didn't simply want this to be for shock value."

For this reason, UPAC stipulated fliers advertising the event must include a disclaimer of sorts, explaining that the festival is inspired by a book and describing what the title signifies.

"Otherwise, people would have a normal emotional reaction, and we would prefer that they know what it's about," Elizando said.

Still, some people seem to be upset by the fliers, because many have disappeared.

"If they read the flier, they would realize no one's trying to be vulgar," said Tarah Ausburn (senior-psychology), a member of Womyn's Concerns.

Cuntfest will begin with self-defense workshops in the Pollock Rec Room. There will be beginners' workshops at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and advanced workshops at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

At 5 p.m., the Alliance for Animal Rights will serve up a free, first come, first serve vegan dinner in the Pollock Cultural Lounge.

From 7:15 to 9:20 p.m. in the Pollock Rec Room, there will be feminist performances. Muscio will read excerpts from her book at 9:30 p.m. in the Pollock Rec Room, and a lesbian performance artist will be featured at 10:40 p.m.

"I just want all people, but particularly women, not to be bound by so many negative words about the female body," Ausburn said.

It's time to reclaim cunt, she said.

"Vagina comes from a word meaning 'sheath for a sword,' and I find that offensive and heterosexist," she said.

If women reclaim the word cunt, Yates said, it won't have to hurt when someone uses it.

"It would be a beautiful day for a woman to be able to say, 'Thank you. Thank you for calling me a cunt,'" Yates said.

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