Writing Re-Enlightenment

Who Owns a Woman’s Shoulders? (Personal Essay About My Mama That Demonstrates Flirting and Short Skirts and High Heels or Whatever Excuse People Make Is NOT the Problem AKA Men Need to Stop Believing They Have a Right to Women’s Bodies)

Posted in Uncategorized by Caralyn Davis on October 1, 2018

About five years ago, my mother decided to train to be a lay-speaker in the United Methodist Church. Her class, taught by a male minister, included eight men and three women. At 71, my mother was the oldest woman present; another was in her early 60s, and the third was in her late 20s.

Read the rest of my essay at The Bitter Southerner here.


A Taste for It (Apocalyptic “Laugh ‘n Cry” Flash Fiction Featuring Ants That Like Oreos, Roast Chickens, and Other Things; Pigs That Like Tar-Paper Because They’re Smart but Weird-A** Animals; and People, Who Just Want to Live Their Best Prosperity-Filled Lives so Leave Them Alone With All That Environmental Sh**)

Posted in Uncategorized, writing by Caralyn Davis on March 16, 2018

Ant hills rose by the thousands from cracks in the asphalt and concrete. The abstract granular cones, ranging from light sandy brown to dark rust, created a new miniature topography across the city. Unimpressed, unaware even as an endless march of 99 degree days claimed our attention, we ploughed through them with the steel toe of a work boot, the stiletto heel of a platform pump. ….

Read the rest at The Molotov Cocktail HERE.

My Mama Is a Demon (Or ‘Stop Being So Mean’ So-Called Christians Because Mean Ain’t a Look Approved by Jesus)

Posted in Uncategorized, writing by Caralyn Davis on December 19, 2017

Demon possession has come a long way since the days of Linda Blair and The Exorcist. Back then, possession was a messy, visceral business rife with fluids and ejaculations of one sort or another. For average folks confronting a demon, sturdy raingear came in just as handy as a Bible and Holy Water. These days, demons do a better job of blending in. For example, on the TV show Supernatural, the demons who take over the bodies of hapless humans appear to bathe regularly between bouts of evil. Nevertheless, one constant remains for demons: They do evil. Perhaps they slit the throats of schoolchildren, or take a machine gun to a crowd of fair-goers. Whatever the specifics, they are action-oriented, full-throttle evil-doers.

Consequently, I was surprised to learn that my mother is possessed by demons. She has twice been informed of this fact by fellow church members. (She’s lost count of how many times she’s been accused of not being a Christian.) Mama first experienced the sacred when she was seven years old. No one in her family had ever taken her to church or Sunday school, but one summer day, she was lying on her back under a tree in her front yard when she looked up through the canopy of green leaves and saw glimpses of the blue sky. At that moment, she knew that God was there with her. So she hied herself off to Sunday school with a neighbor family to, as she describes it, “find out what the sacred was about.” …


Read the rest of my essay here:



A Damn Fine Female Body Part (Or Why You Really, Really Need to Stop Using C*nt as a Curse Word)

Posted in writing by Caralyn Davis on December 19, 2017

Originally published on Aug. 5, 2014, in The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review. Can’t find it now, so republishing here since it’s still valid even if the footnote links are lost to time:

The female nether regions divide Americans into two distinct camps. On one side are the people who cannot bring themselves to say, hear, or read the word vagina no matter how legitimate the circumstances that prompt its use. Depending on whether they over-identify with daytime talk show hosts or public leaders, the antivagina crowd either reverts to baby talk (e.g., vajayjay) or condemns the dictionary-approved terminology as profanity and debauchery most vile. Sexual repression being the obvious diagnosis, I can do nothing but feel sorry for the stricken and wield the word with purpose and clarity whenever warranted.

What worries me and even pushes me to the point of active dislike is the growing multitude on the opposite end of the spectrum — the ones who are comfortable using the edgier cunt as an everyday, casual obscenity. Cunt as insult has been around a long time and, within the hierarchy of derogatory expletives, is still one of the worst as far as I can tell from my middle-aged perspective. But it’s everywhere:

  • Free Showtime weekend, first episode of the acclaimed TV show “Dexter” that I see: Dexter (the antihero serial killer) and some wily enemy with a hold over him are discussing two contract killers who plan to murder the enemy. Dexter wants to know what these killers are like. The enemy, a cosmopolitan sort who gives the impression he would feel comfortable wearing an ascot, trots out the descriptive phrase “a vicious little cunt” as a crucial identifier.
  • The Twitter feed of Kurt Sutter, creator and show runner of the TV show “Sons of Anarchy”: Across the board, males and females bothersome to this man get a “cunt” tag.1
  • A CD review at a literary/culture website uses the term “cuntjuice” to describe a musician’s less appealing work.2
  • More personally, during a phone call with my ex-fiancé to catch up on our families, he says, “My brother is such a cunt sometimes.” Reason 252 that I am content to let go of old wounds and enjoy the balm of gratitude that we aren’t together in our golden years.

These examples feature insults made by men, but women — girls — are prime culprits as well. A simple Internet search for “Miley Cyrus X-rated shirt” brings up the pop singer going fashion forward in a black halter top with “YOU CUNT” printed in red block letters that coordinate nicely with her lipstick. And you have only to go to an unmoderated fan site, Facebook account, YouTube video, or Twitter feed to find angry teen girls slinging out a commonplace “cunt” to anyone they decide to hate. The issue of reblogging vs. reposting on Tumblr also raises enough ire among what appear to be female bloggers to warrant a public service-type announcement that Cindy reposts, giving the content originator no credit, therefore “Cindy is a CUNT. Don’t be like Cindy.”3 Even young women who could be hailed as America’s future leaders are willing to threaten nonconformist females with the physical violence of a “cunt punt.”4

I’m tempted to shake my fist and yell, “Curses, pop culture!” Yet the literary crowd is doing the same thing. I admit, a year or two ago I wrote a short story that included cunt as a curse word (since deleted). When my main character cut off her husband’s thumb with a meat cleaver, “Cunt!” came out of the husband’s mouth almost automatically even though I’d never said or written that particular word before in all my years as a functional human.

In my defense, I wasn’t hip to the modern usage. The word held both significant degradation and shock value to me, qualities fitting of an extreme, involuntary mutilation. But the reality is that the shock value is now minimal. Fiction writers employ cunt as a Monday-through-Friday type of attack. Cunt as insult enjoys such mainstream acceptance that even The Best American Short Stories series isn’t exempt.5

I’m tired of it. Fucking tired of it. I say that to demonstrate that I have no problem with a well-placed, all-inclusive obscenity such as fuck, shit, damn, or asshole. I can even accept the more general gender-based insult of bitch.

However, race-based obscenities should be off the table (and no, using the alternate spelling of nigga doesn’t make that particular word magically okey-dokey if you aren’t a black person). Same goes for belittling someone by describing them as what is, let’s be honest, a damn fine female body part. Demeaning the physical core of femininity is bottom-feeding objectification.

So, cunt as insult is bad and should not be taken silently. That suggests tacit acceptance, which is a problem when the practice is bleeding into so many avenues of communication and is perceived as imbuing artistic endeavors with an aura of gritty coolness. People need to be made aware that the simple fact of living in the 21st century doesn’t give them an inalienable right to say shit they shouldn’t, and that starts with an insult that is detrimental to all women everywhere. Here are some sample conversations offered as inspiration:

Misogynist/weirdo: “You cunt!”

Potential female response: “Not a cunt, but a proud owner, thank you.”

Potential male response: “Basic anatomy says no.”

Potential gender-neutral but more inflammatory response: “Shut up, asshole.”

There’s a good chance the misogynist/weirdo will continue to use cunt as insult. But maybe not. And maybe someone who hears your response will think twice before they use it themselves or allow others to use it without social repercussion.

Wait, what if womenfolk want to take back the power of the word? Achieving true power doesn’t involve equal-opportunity degradation of the female sex. In this regard, I don’t give cunt the same leeway as I do bitch. Bitch as insult is broader, less personal, less defining, and consequently, more malleable in meaning. Cunt as insult is just such an intimate attack that there is no way to spin it into female empowerment. All we’re doing is “mean girling” ourselves over our basic anatomical structure — pretty much the ultimate display of self-loathing. Note: I’m all for male empowerment as well, so even though I find the insult “cock face,” which I recently discovered via Instagram, quite visually evocative, I have no plans to indulge in its use to balance the scales.

Women who want to own the word and men who want to be decent human beings should take cunt out of the realm of insults, reclaim it as a beneficial organ,6 and use it in a complimentary light. In Victorian erotica, writers typically used cunt and its diminutive cunnie (also cunny) in service to happy though sometimes questionable pleasures, not as a rote opportunity to insult women’s sexual organs. These days, poets seem to be on the leading edge of artists willing to reclaim cunt from the realm of negativity.7

I myself am not above objectifying human body parts. To wit: See Norman Reedus aka Daryl Dixon on the television series “The Walking Dead.” As Buzzfeed writer Erin La Rosa said last year, “DEM. ARMS.”8 When one views such proportional elegance, appreciative objectification — linguistic ogling if you will — is a natural response. In fact, the Reedus fandom often labels photographs of the actor based on the different types of “pornography” they offer the viewer, brandishing anatomical hashtags like orgasmic yelps.9 The point: Sexual objectification can be a positive experience when it celebrates rather than denigrates.

My one caveat is that the person to whom this objectification is applied should appreciate the effort and not be made to feel scared or annoyed. Continuing with the Reedus example, if I were ever to meet the man, I would stab my own hand with a ballpoint pen before I let him feel the creepy slime of sexual harassment as a result of my words. Unwelcome objectification of either sex by word or action is always inappropriate. You have to be able to turn off the objectification and deal with people on an individual, human level.10

So, cunt as compliment is good — as long as the recipient is happy. The next time you and I have sex, I’d be pleased to hear “Wow, lovely cunt!” Otherwise, shut up, asshole.


  1. Lurk at the Twitter feed of @sutterink for a few weeks at the outside to observe supreme proficiency, if not grace, in using cunt as insult.
  2. The review equating bad music to cuntjuice occurred more than a year (or two) ago, so I can’t find the link, but it’s the reason I stopped frequenting the website. Bad karma pending htmlGIANT.
  3. See the Feb. 3, 2014, All Monsters Are Human Tumblr blog posting, which features this original or possibly reblogged but likely not reposted PSA. Here, CUNT is written in pink type. Taken together with the redlettered Cyrus shirt, the post suggests that while women enjoy cunt as insult as much as any man, it’s OK because they make it pretty.
  4. In 2013, a sorority executive board member at the University of Maryland (UMD), which Forbes ranks as No. 73 among America’s top colleges, e-mailed her sisters threatening to “cunt punt” anyone who dared to cheer for both teams at Greek Week events, according to Gawker. UMD’s notable women alumni include the journalist Connie Chung and Vashti McKenzie, the first female bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
  5. See the lovely but for this one flaw “Alive” by Sharon Solwitz and the intriguing but similarly troubled “Tenth of December” by George Saunders, both in BASS 2012.
  6. Need help understanding exactly what a cunt is, and why you should venerate it? See Cunt Coloring Book by Tee Corinne, but the short answer is that even if a cunt isn’t your thing sexually, it still had something to do with how you arrived on this planet and deserves appropriate respect.
  7. Natalie Eilbert is one poet who opts to take the negative out of cunts. Your cunt’s a star? Hell yes, Natalie, so’s mine. Karma partially restored htmlGIANT.
  8. On March 29, 2013, Erin La Rosa penned the seminal Buzzfeed article “28 Reasons Why Daryl Dixon Is the Hottest Man on ‘Walking Dead.’”
  9. Visit the Twitter feed of A Norman Co-Stalker @ennoia3 to learn about the glories of #wispocalypse, #greybeard, #holyshoulders, #goodlordcheckoutthosearms, #handpornerrific, #helpmeispyfangs, #peekabooear, #Reeduspornarama, and more.
  10. Take note, co-hosts of “The View,” who in a 2013 interview exhibited no qualms squeezing the Reedus arm muscles even as he physically shied away from the contact.

Now and Later (a short story about horrible things no one wants to talk about, but we really need to talk about because they are not uncommon. Bad things happen to women and we need to stop cutting these things out of the arts. I categorize this as triggering but necessary)

Posted in Uncategorized by Caralyn Davis on December 7, 2017

He dislikes her now. He will do worse later. Ruby’s nine, and she can see the anger in his eyes. They are two years apart. Little sister, big brother. Bound together by fraying genetic ropes. When Ruby was a baby, her mother says, Neil loved her best. Ruby has reason to doubt this. Mama is an unreliable witness. Mama wants to believe he loves Ruby still.

Read the whole story here:


The Woman Candidate (Flash Not Quite Fiction Because Hillary Clinton Was NOT the Problem. We as a Society Are the Problem. We Hate Seeing Women Have Power, Especially if They Don’t Kowtow to Men, so It’s Time to Step up and Change Our Ways People, Come on Now, Enough of This Nonsense)

Posted in Uncategorized by Caralyn Davis on August 24, 2017

The Case of the Albino Gorilla (a short story about second marriages and desperation and fighting to reclaim your life even if it means starting in the smallest of ways, like with condiments)

Posted in Uncategorized by Caralyn Davis on March 13, 2017

“Sena is a one-woman production line. She scoops mayonnaise out of a jar with two fingers curved into a makeshift spoon, plops the mayonnaise onto a slice of white bread, and straightens her fingers into a knife to spread an even coating to all four corners. Complaints will be lodged if anyone bites into a glob. Same for a dry spot.”

Read the story at the wonderful Storychord (complete with cool art and soundtrack) here.

Imprinted (potentially triggery flash fiction with some knives, thumbs, and a marriage, plus it represents 6 years of my life so worth a read on that basis alone)

Posted in writing by Caralyn Davis on November 22, 2016

My husband’s thumb lies nestled among the mushrooms on the countertop. Not twitching and jumping like the body of a live fish when you cut off the head. Just resting, as the head itself would do. A small amount of blood, a soupçon in cooking terminology, fans out from the point of detachment in an irregular pool.

READ the full story here:


Taylor Swift: Is she officially evil enough to date Loki, or are you a sexist?

Posted in Uncategorized by Caralyn Davis on July 16, 2016

The Calvin Harris Twitter rant about Taylor Swift trying to “bury” and “tear down” her ex-boyfriend has brought out the haters en masse, even getting the tag #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty trending as the Internet gleefully piled on. Everyone is very pleased that Calvin “exposed” Taylor for the manipulative, bitchy, evil snake that she is (insert multiple snake emojis here because that’s how all the cool haters roll). They don’t seem to realize or care that they are being sexist jerks.

“What? This isn’t about a man getting angry because a woman took credit for her own work! Why do you always play the sexist card? Taylor’s a disrespectful, fake Nazi Barbie trying to steal credit.”

No, sorry. You’re still a sexist jerk—and it very much is about a woman getting slammed for taking credit for her own work. Let me explain: Taylor didn’t “secretly” write (aka ghostwrite) the lyrics and melody of “This Is What You Came for.” Before her publicist acknowledged that she was the author, a person other than Calvin Harris already had that songwriting credit.

The world knew that Calvin didn’t craft every word and note of this song on his own—but no one cared until Taylor Swift was involved and they could help Calvin run with the narrative of the poor, wronged ex-boyfriend and the evil, bitchy ex-girlfriend. Calvin’s writer is suddenly his very recent, famous ex and somehow then—and only then—is it a problem for Calvin or anyone else that another person wrote the lyrics and melody. Let me repeat: It was never just his song. Another person had a listed writing credit and publishing rights the entire time.


Loser Cat (A Little Apocalyptic Short Story W/ Religious Extremism, a Shoutout to Margaret Atwood, a Secret Cameo (Shh!!!) by Hillary Clinton, Feminist Nuns–Some With Jokes, Some With Stilettos (The Knife Not the Heel), Laura Ingalls Wilder Love, Spinsters, and a Wee Bit of Educational Twerking

Posted in writing by Caralyn Davis on June 29, 2016

In the year of Our Lord 2033, I bide here in my cell.

Technically, I’m a nun, not a prisoner, but why quibble because I have a name instead of an inmate number? Mary Elizabeth’s not even my real name. A preacher gave it to me when I took my vows at the virginal age of forty-five.


Read the rest of this story in the lovely EXPOUND, an international online journal based out of Nigeria: