Taking a stand on the 'C' word
Nov 09 2005, 22:57
The “C” word: it’s a word that, even in the West, where everyday language
(especially in the movies) is often laced with profanity, is just too much.
Hearing that degrading term for the female anatomy doesn’t just make people
flinch; it makes the people who hear it used think lower of those who use
In English, the “C” word is way over the line, in the same way that swearing
of any kind is in Ukraine. So recently when a colleague from our
Russian-language sister publication Afisha came over to ask what the “C”
word meant, we all raised our eyebrows. Who wanted to know, and why?
As it turns out, this journalist needed to write about a new club that
opened recently in ritzy Passage, the little alleyway off Khreshchatyk that’s
home to Nouvelle, Mokko and other higher-end establishments. A
long-established club in town, Docker Pub, had opened a new location there
called Docker ABC, where “A” stands for “Alcohol,” “B” is for “Baccy,” as in
“Tobacco,” and “C” is for... well, if you don’t know what it stands for, ask
a native English speaker who isn’t too shy to repeat the word.
What upsets me most about the name of this club is how brazenly and
flippantly the word has been used, as if a similar word in Ukrainian (if one
even exists) or in Russian (if anyone dared utter it) would just as
nonchalantly be accepted by Kyiv’s carefree social elite. It’s one thing to
embrace other cultures, as Ukraine is most certainly doing these days, but
it’s completely another to cast a blind eye towards those elements that you
wish to adopt and the meaning behind them. Ukrainian society is already seen
by many as one that treats women as second-class citizens despite their
rights enshrined in Ukraine’s Constitution.
This weird, non-sensical use of a degrading, sexist word in the signage of a
Ukrainian business is not an achievement to be celebrated, but a step
backward that should be addressed – not in any legislative fashion, mind
you, but by ordinary people, would-be customers, who should leave the place
out of fashion. Fascist symbols, examples of anti-Semitic behavior and
ignorance of the forced famine of 1932-33 stir emotions and generate
headlines in this country, but a word that every woman – English, Ukrainian,
Jewish or otherwise – should find deeply offensive and insulting has so far
only found positive press.
I am, of course, in favor of free speech. Am I a hypocrite, working as I do
for a newspaper that publishes escort ads, to come out so strongly against
Docker ABC? After all, I have not yet written any words to express my
feelings about these ads. However, these ads do not use sexually explicit,
degrading or repugnant language – not a one. Technically, they don’t
advertise sex, and their language isn’t as patently abrasive as Docker ABC’s
Docker ABC seems to suggest that alcohol, tobacco and the female anatomy
together can be used towards a fun, rocking good time. If that’s the case, I
should expect that the club should have all three for sale, to be used
cheaply and easily, as the name suggests. Is “C” on the menu there, too?
What’s the going rate for “C” these days, anyway?
Recently I received a notice from the French Cultural Center about a concert
to be held at Docker ABC. The person there with whom I correspond did not
know the meaning behind the name until I told her, and she was somewhat
taken aback when she found out. I have told friends about the name and I
will continue to share my feelings about the name until either it goes or I
go. I hope people with respect for equal rights and good taste will join me
in ignoring any such business that treats women with such disregard.
Paul Miazga is the Post’s senior editor.