What Makes South Carolina South Carolina

I have been told by a novelist from South Carolina whom I know — a woman with an MFA and publications to her credit — that, in an exact quote: “Women don’t masturbate.”

Is that it?

Is that why South Carolina is — the way South Carolina is?

If the women in South Carolina don’t know how to masturbate, what do they do while they read Fifty Shades of Grey?

Who else in South Carolina doesn’t know how to masturbate? I mean, is it just the women, or does Lindsay Graham not know how to masturbate either? Did Strom Thurmond know? Why didn’t he tell anybody else? I know, I know — he didn’t tell anybody about his Negro daughter either.

This brings to mind a ludicrous written encounter I had with a South Carolina reader of my first novel, Safe Sex, published by Fourth Estate Ltd., in London in 1997. I was taken to task for the use, in that book, of the word cunt to refer to — women’s cunts. I was excoriated for this crass commercialism — why else would I use such a foul and inflammatory and degrading word — by a male reader, a married man who came of age during the Sexual Revolution. (That was the revolution in which all the combatants truly were volunteers.)

But as noted, this fellow was from South Carolina, and he further informed me that he had surveyed all his wife’s closest friends on the issue of the word cunt — and not one of these ladies called her cunt a cunt. This survey finding, coupled (if you will) with the news that South Carolina women do not masturbate, suggests that these women may be not-masturbating because they do not have cunts.

Where do South Carolina babies come from?

Cunt, of course, is the actual English word for the genitalia of the female of the human species, and was in everyday usage until the loss of the English Civil War by the Cavaliers (monarchists who talked about cunts) to the Roundheads (Puritans, who — well, you know). The Puritans judged cunt to be a dirty word because a cunt was a dirty thing. Geoffrey Chaucer, on the other hand, uses it freely and easily in The Canterbury Tales.

Chaucer was pre-puritan, and I’ll bet he knew how to masturbate, too. He certainly knew how to tell a dirty joke! (With style, baby — lots of style!)

I used the word cunt in Safe Sex for the same reason Chaucer used it [in The Canterbury Tales:  because it is the English word for this portion of the female anatomy.  And because I was trying, in Safe Sex, to write an honest novel about human sexuality.  About its power, you know?  (Sure, you know!)  I mean, if we weren’t in deep deep denial about human sexuality in the United States, we wouldn’t have the problems we have with HIV/AIDS, or with any other sexually-transmitted disease.

So, how do we begin to reform our society to accomplish this public health miracle?  Kung fu-tzu tells us, by the rectification of names:

“If language is not used rightly, then what is said is not what is meant.  If what is said is not what is meant, then that which ought to be done is left undone; if it remains undone, morals and art will be corrupted; if morals and art are corrupted, justice will go awry, and if justice goes awry, the people will stand about in helpless confusion.”

Does that remind you of anyone you know?

The quotation is taken from Eros Denied, a book by Wayland Young, M.P. — that’s Member of Parliament — which discussed in great detail and in plain English the subject of “Sex in Western Society,” the book’s subtitle.  And, as I said, cunt is the actual English name of this actual organ of the human female — no matter what language she speaks!

Back in 1997, my critic, who prides himself on being an enlightened South Carolinian, found a survey subject who called her cunt “my secret.” Now, this is just the kind of thing Chaucer would have appreciated, because it lends itself so easily and directly to ribaldry, viz., “How big a secret is it?” “How many people are in on the secret?” and, of course, my personal favorite, “Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.”

Which do you think is the dead one?

When my father retired from the U.S. Army in 1965, he got a job in South Carolina, and we moved there from Washington, D.C. At some point during my last two years of high school, South Carolina legalized liquor-by-the-drink. But they legalized it in a real special, South-Carolina kind of way: mini-bottles. Right — those little single-serving things the airlines used to dispense, and may still, I don’t know because since we got all secure I don’t fly anymore. When I first heard about this law, I thought that the South Carolina legislators had opted for this single-serving gimmick so that when they drank, they could pretend they were riding on an airplane.

So this ignorance of masturbation should not have surprised me. Could it have any connection with the fact that, during the years from 1966 to 1976, which I spent in South Carolina, I was more or less always suicidally depressed, insanely drunk, and using dangerous drugs? If I could have taught basic masturbation to one South Carolina woman — just one — would I still have to go to all these 12-Step meetings?

And remember that 2016 is an election year. Perhaps we can take political action on behalf of the female South Carolinians. Perhaps an educational intervention sponsored by the Public Health Service — surely you remember Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, the adult member of the Reagan administration who tried to respond like a doctor to the occurrence of disease in the form of HIV/AIDS. He wore that white uniform all the time — it’s the uniform of the U.S. Public Health Service — the PHS staff at the CDC used to wear their uniforms every Wednesday, and maybe they still do, I haven’t been over there in quite a while.

But wouldn’t that look just loverly! A busload of uniformed Public Health personnel, all bright and shining white, descending on the Palmetto State to cleanse the land of messy bodily fluids, and probably, too, some other stuff we can’t even talk about, not even on the Internet. (Well, we can talk about it on the Internet, but it will crash all the servers in Utah and, yes, South Carolina, too.)

Maybe we could take up a collection on KickStarter or GoFundMe and send a busload of PHS staff from the CDC to South Carolina, where they could give instruction in human female masturbation. Of course, we wouldn’t call it masturbation. We’d call it something like training in preventive techniques to inhibit the spread of sexually-transmitted disease. Yeah, STD makes the technique sound like something real clinical and really clean — like an absolutely sterile treatment for the dirtiest something-or-other you can imagine. We could say we were helping the women of South Carolina “dodge a bullet.” (Dodging a bullet is an instance of language that voters really relate to in South Carolina. That and negra guvermint.)

And also since it’s South Carolina, we shouldn’t say the technique is preventive. We’d have to call it preventative.

(And oh, yes, my female correspondent, referenced at the beginning of this post, has earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Why does this not surprise me?)

(This post is dedicated to all the citizens of Sumter County, South Carolina.)

Open Letter to Democrats From a Disillusioned Young Voter

Special from Reader Supported News, by Carl Gibson

07 November 14
Dear Democrats,

Are you listening? President Obama says he hears us. He says that people don’t have a reason to show up to vote if the politicians they have to choose from don’t motivate them. He’s partially right. But that’s only part of a much larger problem. To all you would-be elected officials looking for my generation’s support at the polls, listen closely – get populist or get ready to lose bad.

2014’s low voter turnout was historic. Voter turnout actually hasn’t been this low since the 1940s. As Mother Jones pointed out, voter turnout for people under 30 was dismal. In this election, people like me only made up 12 percent of those who voted, while people aged 60 and older made up almost 40 percent of total voters. In 2012, when President Obama was re-elected and Congressional Democrats made gains in the House and Senate, millennials made up almost one-fifth of all voters, and voters 60 and older made up just 25 percent of the electorate, bringing us a little closer to a tie. It isn’t hard to see the difference – this year, Republicans steamrolled you, Democrats, because most of us stayed home and let our Fox-watching uncles and grandparents decide on who was going to represent everyone else.

So how do older people pick who runs Congress? Like every other voting bloc, they pick the ones who run on issues most important to them. And as Vox reported, data consistently shows that younger people want their tax dollars spent on education and job creation. Older voters want their money spent on Social Security and war. The Republicans who swept the U.S. Senate ran largely on fear campaigns over ISIS, promising to be more hawkish than their opponents in an eagerness to pour money and troops into Iraq and Syria to snuff out America’s newest boogeyman.

Contrast the unified Republican message with the profound silence from you Democrats on addressing the trillion-dollar student debt crisis, rampant inequality and underemployment, and your collective fear of openly embracing economic populism, and you cook up what we saw on Tuesday night. Older people showed up, highly motivated to elect war hawks. Younger people mostly stayed home, disillusioned with the only alternative on the ballot who didn’t even talk about the issues affecting our lives every day.

The few of us who did show up to vote largely did it to support state ballot initiatives that actually mattered in our daily lives. We still voted to raise the minimum wage in 4 states to a slightly more respectable amount, and to $15 an hour in San Francisco. We voted for a week of paid sick days in Massachusetts, and for marijuana legalization in three more states (okay, well, DC isn’t a state yet, but it definitely will be by the time we’re grandparents). We voted to turn nonviolent drug offenses from felonies into misdemeanors in California. We even boosted high voter turnout in Michigan for Gary Peters, a Democrat who made climate change – something we’ll have to confront long after the boomers are gone – his top issue. We just didn’t vote for Democrats who haven’t done anything for us since we voted for them in 2012, and who brazenly took our votes for granted this year.

Even though the Republicans have made it clear they won’t raise the minimum wage, legalize marijuana, or address climate change as long as they’re in power, they at least have a unified message that appeals to enough people who share their values. They can also communicate that message in a confident way. The Republican platform comes in easy-to-remember, tweet-sized sentences. We all know their buzzwords – “national security,” “family values,” “free markets.” That may translate to endless war, homophobia, and corporate feudalism for the better-informed, but for most people, those are catch phrases they can get behind.

You Democrats, on the other hand, looked pitiful in the year leading up to the midterms. You didn’t seem to stand for anything in particular, you just pointed the finger at the other guy, told us they were bad, and that you weren’t like them. That’s not enough. Take a risk, be bold. Get behind Elizabeth Warren’s 0.75 percent interest rate for student loans. Allow student debt to be abolished with bankruptcy. Push for single-payer healthcare, or at the very least a public health insurance option. Need some catchy buzzwords? Try “affordable education,” “good jobs,” and “healthy families.”

President Obama hit the nail on the head – we won’t show up and vote for you if you aren’t offering us anything real. If Democrats want to stay relevant, they’ll have to learn to stop taking us for granted and actually make an effort to get our votes. Simply banking on being the lesser evil and having that be enough won’t cut it any longer.

Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at carl@rsnorg.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to RSN.