This poem uses explicit language, mature themes and mature humour to simultaneously praise Jesus and women, and critique patriarchy, the exclusion of women from leadership, and the domestication of both women and Jesus. There’s a line about the tendency of the church to “Whiten” Jesus. The poem uses reproductive organs as a metaphor, as part of the ongoing experiment by various writers to reclaim the word c***.
If you are open to that exploration, and seeing the unstarred version of the word c*** applied to Jesus in an affirming way, then read on for the poem, and further reflections on that reclamation, otherwise please stop here.
Comments are welcome, (use the thread on this FB post)
(Jesus was a cunt)
A spontaneous recording of the poem at Nimbin 2021, in a yard where the church had recently burned down and all that remained was the cross.
The poem performed as part of a four poem set, for the Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup in 2021, it starts at 6:30.
One version of the text of the poem
Jesus was a cunt.
and much abused
both adulated and misused.
You might not agree,
but to me… a bit of a mystery.
Judas thought he was a pussy.
But Jesus was a cunt.
Billions adore him
want to touch and explore him
can’t live without him
have been born through him
revolve their life around him
can’t go on without him
kneel before him
in Communion touch and taste him
want to bring joy to him
yet struggle to satisfactorily put their finger on him
While others want to screw him
repress and control him
depilitate and Whiten him
domesticate and brighten him.
Make him “nice.”
meek and mild
no longer passionate and wild.
But they’re not fooling me
I’ve known a cunt or three
and the women who surrounded them
as women surrounded Jesus on that tree.
Wild and free,
Like their cunts they were fucking brilliant!
Jesus was tough
he didn’t grow a pair
one tap on a teste and you collapse in despair.
he grew a vagina
That’s why people know him
all the way from here to China
Yep Jesus was a cunt,
and if that offends some men
Then put more cunts in leadership!
Can I hear “AMEN?”
This poem has attracted more response, both positive and negative, than any other I’ve written or performed.
I wrote a response to one critic, which I thought worth sharing here in a slightly adapted form. Doubtless much more could be said. Feel free to say more in the comments on this FB thread…
Trying to reclaim the word cunt doesn’t work for everyone, there’s an interesting discussion of that, and some of the key thinkers, on Wikipedia. Reading Inga Muscio’s Cunt: A declaration of Independence first raised the question for me, of whether it was possible and desirable.
Certainly in this poem cunt is not being used as an expletive, but as the one (or the best known) word for women’s genitals which refers to the whole reproductive system, and isn’t defined in reference to men (vagina is literally a sheath for a male ‘sword’). The discomfort many of us feel with the word is part of the point of the poem, in setting up the parallel with the one who was ‘despised and rejected.’
What I actually say about Jesus is very positive: “Strong. Warm. Worshipped, adored much loved and much abused, both adulated and misused… etc”
The whole poem praises Jesus. Using female imagery to praise Jesus shocks some, using the imagery I chose, since most women have a cunt, will be a bridge too far for many, but others have found it extremely affirming (see the main FB thread).
Many Christians find it offensive to suggest that women should be in leadership, and most churches still refuse to ordain women. I hope people find this reality more offensive than the word cunt, ditto the many attempts by men, in and outside the church, to control women and their cunts, (make them nice, blue blooded, meek and mild”) as we have tried to domesticate Jesus and his wild message and challenging call.
In my church, the Uniting Church in Australia (NSW.ACT) our theme at the moment is to go “Where the Wild God is.” I hope this poem encourages at least some of us on the Way, though of course the Uniting Church has officially ordained women and celebrated their leadership since its inception in the 70s.
I hope we are also more offended by the centuries of attempts to “Whiten” Jesus, also referred to in the poem. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and Pacific Islanders particularly have been challenging white westerners like me over this sin in the Australian context. Jesus, as an oppressed peasant under Roman Occupation has a lot more in common with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people then whitefellas like me. Because of their millennia thriving in the lands now called Australia, the Uniting Church affirms that they have “particular insights into God’s ways” which the rest of us need to heed.
So, I have used an often offensive word, and tried to play a small part in reclaiming it and returning it to its positive meaning, as a way of highlighting many men’s ambivalent relationship to both women and Jesus. If cunt doesn’t work for you (and it wouldn’t have for me until a few years ago), you could try re-reading the poem by substituting vagina (despite it’s male reference point) or possibly yoni (but that is unfamiliar to many people).
Some people have worried about the impact of the poem on young people, because it says cunt. Where I live at least, cunt seems well established in the common tongue (as a swear word) even in primary school, to the point that I was called one by a year 5 in scripture class :-0
More seriously, I think the greater risk to young women is patriarchy and their silencing, domestication and control by men even, as we have heard far too many times, when they are experiencing domestic abuse. I hope this poem helps guard against that in some small way.
I did wonder about whether I should do a PG version of the poem, but don’t have the skills to do so without the poem losing its impact. If anyone is able to, I’d love to see what you come up with.
Finally, I was asked about the appropriateness of a man speaking into this space. I don’t know. I hope that this poem isn’t seen as speaking for women, but rather is a cheering from the sidelines of an ally. I think the bigger risk is to just leave it to women to advocate for themselves. I’ve had enough positive feedback from women to know that at least some see it that way, but if I get enough comments in the FB thread I’m happy to revisit the poem in light of them.
Thanks for reading this far, this is one of only two poems where the explanation exceeds the length of the work itself! As I said above, any comments are welcome on FB or email me at jason at ecofaith.org
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