What's Your Word - P*ssy

Marissa Southards

Of all the participants in The Awakenings Project, few have left indelible marks on the project by their sheer presence and will. One of those fearsome women is, Jennifer McCoy.  After hearing about the Awakenings Project through social media invite via her friend and Awakenings Project creator, Marissa Southards,  Jennifer, affectionately known in certain circles as just “McCoy”, sat for the initial cycle of The Awakenings Project, AI.

Her word? Pussy.  Yes, PUSSY.



In eloquence that only McCoy can give, hear her reason for why she chose such a provocative and evocative word:

 “My word was “pussy”. I want it noted that I chose that word in November 2016, before the Women’s March and pussy hats! I’ve been apoplectic and inconsolable since Trump was elected. I took personal insult to his sexist, misogynistic admission he sexually assaulted/assaults women. I’d been lamenting over what word to choose for weeks. Then it just hit me that Trump, and people like him, don’t get to own that word. We have to stop participating in perpetuating pussy as weak. Reclaiming the word pussy was my stake, my line in the sand. He doesn’t get to pull that fuckery and ruin a beautiful word, our word. When I made my choice, I also made a pact to only use pussy in an empowering way. Pussies give birth. There is no greater strength or importance than that. Humanity has forever denigrated women’s bodies, specifically their pussies, which they equate to weakness. No longer. From this point forward, you aren’t ENOUGH of a pussy if you can’t treat women right. You are goddamn right I’m a pussy.”

When asked if she was a feminist, Jennifer considers herself a womanist, or ‘whatever is left of the most left word there is.’ Even with such an evocative word, to date, has not been repeated in through the life of the project, Jennifer was asked how she felt about seeing her picture before its release, and her thoughts about her participation overall. Although she didn’t see her pictures before they were posted (in the initial installation at Blissoma Botanical Beauty here in St. Louis, MO). What started as slight disappointment in the initial picture choice, turned into self-discovery, self-love and edification for the remaining women of A1 and those whom would follow in succeeding cycles . Jennifer McCoy puts it this way,

“I was slightly disappointed Marissa didn’t pick a picture of me more exposed despite posing topless was way out of my comfort zone. I avoid the pool like the plague because I’m so self-conscious about wearing a swimsuit in public. Like a lot of women, I have some form of body dysmorphia. My parents are lifetime body shamers, though their criticism centered on my older sister who carried some extra weight. As the “slender” one, I thought I was immune to fat shaming, but insecurities about your body bloom in your head from the constant barrage of perfection, not from your outside appearance. Dysmorphia connotes an irrationality I understand intellectually but haven’t fully come to terms with emotionally. The photos were beautiful, and I looked beautiful. More importantly, I felt like I looked beautiful, as I did ALL the women.”

            May we all know more McCoys.


Jennifer is a recovering attorney set adrift following the economic downturn. She turned anti-establishment, anti-racist activist baptized by fire in the streets of Ferguson and is in the process of publishing a book about her experiences. She lives in St. Louis with her daughter, twins and husband. Your inappropriate friend blogs at and enjoys annoying folks visiting her Coy McCoy Facebook page.

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