Cathartic Cross Stitch

By Kerry

I’ve been engaging in some cathartic cross stitch of late, in an effort to hold on to my sanity.

It started earlier in the year with this piece, inspired by frustrating political events:

feminist cross stitch nevertheless she persisted

Explicit language ahead.


Then I read this article by Dr. Kate Lister on the history of the word cunt, and I was inspired.

Does it not strike anyone else as odd that the most offensive word in English is a word for vulva?” – Dr. Kate Lister

cunt subversive cross stitch

I had a small hoop laying around, so I set out to stitch up a cunt. It was a quick project, and a tiny step toward taking back this taboo word. I chose to cross stitch it (rather than embroider) because I wanted it to be very methodical and planned out – no free-form, flowing lines, just neat rows of Xs. I selected very light, subtle colors and a bold, all caps lettering.

The result is a small object of beauty, existing quietly…yet it has an undeniably powerful message. This is a word that makes people wince, even recoil…but it’s just a word. A simple word meaning vulva. Which was turned into the “most offensive word in the English language.” This little hoop serves as a reminder to question the motivations behind making cunt a “terrible” word.

For even more insight into the word cunt, check out this episode of the etymology podcast, The Allusionist.

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