I would love to actually be able to pinpoint when it moved from being the anglo saxon for vagina to being an insult.
It was probably always both. 'Cunt' is a powerful obscenity in almost every European tongue. It seems to stem from the stigma around menstruation which is probably older than language.
Whichever way you look at it though it is a misogynistic word to use. When I was at uni the word to use was fascist. Now that's a great swear word.
I agree. I use 'cunt' myself in both its literal and obscene senses, I think partly because I was always the nice lass who shouldn't, and partly because it reflects the rather ambivalent relationship I have with the old girl down below.
Languages are so thoroughly misogynistic that I find it hard to draw lines. The common-or-garden all-purpose swearword in French is putain
(whore), which is gendered of course; con
(cunt) is banal, and no more obscene than twat/twit, but a lot more common than rude words relating to the male anatomy. The last taboo in French is probably enculé
(literally, 'sodomised person'), which is homophobic more than misogynistic.
The gendered insult I won't use is 'bitch', as a noun. I also don't much like synonyms for 'penetrated' as negative words to describe passivity and powerlessness (fucked, buggered, screwed, etc). That's where I feel the most cognitive dissonance.