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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » sexual terminology

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Author Topic: sexual terminology
marimo
Neophyte
Member # 104421

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A lot of the language that is commonly used to refer to sex, or how its talked about, seems pretty lousy to me. For example to "screw" "nail" "bang" (Are we building a shed here?), "popping" cherries, or even sometimes "f_ck" ends up sounding the opposite of sexy, especially when its phrased in terms of acts which are done to or upon women, rather than a mutual activity. Not to mention that the connotation is biased in terms of bodies and activities.

I don't often hear others speak up about how this language makes them feel, although I never like to use it myself, and feel uncomfortable when others talk this way. In particular, as a woman I don't feel sexually empowered by this language, and feel like it contributes to unhealthy and unhappy feelings about sexual meanings for me personally, when I already struggle to feel good in this realm.

Thoughts? Are these really just harmless terms?

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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marimo: I don't know how up you are on feminist history, but this was actually one pretty big theme within the second wave of feminism.

In other words, quite a few second-wave feminists focused on issues of sex and the language used with it, particularly language that was clearly violent or misogynist.

(Love the "are we building a shed?")

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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I feel like for me the words that irk me most often just comes from having heard them used in a sexist context...

For that reason shed-building words just sound really silly to me. Which has it's own benefits sometimes: "BANG ME!"... I think sometimes those more imposing terms are just well suited to people who have those kinds of ideas of sex that glorify the aggression, which makes them offputting for me

But on the other hand, for me, the language isn't really the only driving force and I appreciate it when people take those terms and repurpose them in their own more progressive ways.

I think for certain types of sex when it is really aggressive but mutually so and fun, "We were banging/screwing" can capture some of that, but to describe doing it TO another person feels somewhat braggy and for me that's just not how sex turns out. Sex isn't something that ever feels like I do to someone, but with them, and so I might actually describe the sex as something, a noun, we had or did. "We had a really hot time" "We did some amazing sexing!", or just "We had sex".

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Molias
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I do agree that a lot of these shed-building (love it!) terms are really off-putting and make me uncomfortable, specifically because they sound violent and create a penetrative/aggressive vs. receptive/passive dichotomy that isn't much like sex I have or want to have. And even for people who are into those roles in a sexual relationship, it's still some pretty loaded language to use.

One that I will NEVER be ok with is "popping cherries," as it's anatomically inaccurate and also paints a pretty painful picture of intercourse. If someone's forcing their way into another person's body, that's a pretty horrific thing to brag about, whether it's rape or being disrespectful of a consenting partner's body and comfort.

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Patricia H
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It's true that a lot of these terms come off as distasteful, but it's one thing to acknowledge them and quite another to keep using them regardless, thus perpetuating the circulation and presence of these terms.

So in response, I'd like to pose a fun and friendly challenge and ask what you use and/or come up with in replacement?

I'd also like to point out, too, that your (awesome) shed building terms pertain to only a specific type of sex, namely, vaginal intercourse. There's plenty of slang names for other types of sex, some that can be equally physical/violent; I'm going to provide a few examples from Heather's book:

manual sex: hand job, fingering, fingerf*cking, whacking off, wanking, jacking off, jilling off

dry sex: dry sex, humping, grinding, freaking, body rubbing

oral sex (cunnilingus): eating out, going down on, tipping the velvet

oral sex (fellatio): blow job, giving head, sucking off, hummer, teabagging (for oral sex on testicles)

vaginal intercourse: making love, shagging, hitting it, nookie, getting laid, horizontal mambo

These were all made up at some point by someone, so why not get creative and make up your own? [Smile] Smooshing genitals, having some sexy happy fun time, hanky panky, what have you--the sky's the limit on this one.

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Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. - Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

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oneboikyle
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Patricia, as a Dr Who fan (and someone who generally gets involved with other Whovians), I don't claim to have made it up, but I've always found that "dancing", coupled with a significant look, gets the message across quite well. (Kudos to anyone who actually gets the reference, it's majorly geeky)

The whole thing with terminology, though, is that it's very subjective. I know it seems like a very trite thing to do, and I have had a few odd looks from people for it, but I always like to have a conversation with potential partners about language before we 'dance'. I've found it makes for a funny conversation at times, and it helps to dispel any awkwardness within a budding relationship. Not to mention the fact that it means everyone can be comfortable, which can only be a good thing.

Personally, one very damaging term I hear a lot, is the idea of someone "doing" someone else. It makes it sound very nonconsensual, and to me at least sounds as bad as the shed-building terms. But, the old romantic in me really likes the term "making love", though most of my friends reckon it's too formal.

Just my thoughts on it.

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