Work This Cunt Bucket: Knowledge, Love, and De-containment in Sapphire’s Push

  • Michael Angelo Tata
Part of the Queer Studies and Education book series (QSTED)


Michael Angelo Tata examines the potency of language to create identity. Through queer theory, Tata looks at the metaphysics of a key offensive term from Sapphire’s socially critical urban novel Push (1996) to reveal how the transmission of knowledge transforms the story’s protagonist, Precious Jones. The language of Push is raw and brilliantly descriptive about sex, body, rape, ravishment, nutrition, locomotion, visage, and comestibility. Among the words Sapphire uses to bring her protagonist’s precious pedagogy to light, the noun “cunt bucket” is the most critical—a word too hot for Tyler Perry and Oprah. Tata engages the term “cunt bucket” both figuratively and metaphorically, tying it to Precious’s epistemic, even Gnostic, journey. Via Julia Kristeva’s theories of the feminine receptacle in Revolution in Poetic Language, female containment can be traced back to the cosmological Platonic chora, revealing ways in which identifying Precious as storage device have both hurt and helped her. Most importantly, Plato’s reflections on the relation between container and form, place and production in his Timaeus, along with his theories of intellectual midwifery and the strange transmissivity of knowledge in his Theaetetus, all help create a model of transformation converting Precious from cold metal pail to warm and pulsing center of ideas, concepts, and rêverie. Other interpretations of the chora by Judith Butler in her schema of sexual materiality (Bodies That Matter) and Jacques Derrida in his emphasis on the non-reciprocity of dissemination also shed light on the metaphysics—even pataphysics—of the cunt bucket.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Angelo Tata
    • 1
  1. 1.Coral GablesUSA

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