Talking Dirty

#MasturbationMondayTRIGGER WARNING: This post will probably make me sound like a massive bellend/pious twat.







All words that are frequently used to describe aspects of sex. Also words that are used in the names of some of my favourite blogs and blogging memes; blogs and memes that promote body/image/sex positivity.

Yet, despite all the good things about these, I have one niggling problem them; the names.

Now, I must emphasise that I am not having a go at the bloggers and writers involved. The problem isn’t with their blogs, or what they write, or the photos they post. After all, I participate in these memes, posting both my writing and photos. My problem is with the language. Not the language used by my fellow bloggers/writers you understand, just the language that has grown up around sex itself.

Now, when it comes to writing about sex, I am as “guilty” as everyone else; I describe it as dirty/filthy/naughty/etc. The problem is, the negative connotations of these words goes against the sex positive message we try to put forward. Somehow, while on the one hand seeming entirely apt, they also reinforce the message that there is something wrong with sex; that somehow we should feel shame for enjoying it and the pleasure it brings us.

And yet…

And yet, the use of such words is partially what makes it so much fun; it makes it seem like we’re doing something we really shouldn’t. Which is, of course bollocks. Of course we should be doing it. If we didn’t, none of us would be here to discuss it. And since we should be doing it, it only seems right that we should also enjoy it.

On the one hand it is great that the sex positive community is attempting to “reclaim” these words and make them positive but, on the other hand, are we not further entrenching the idea of “wrongness” about sex by doing so.

It’s a quandary. No less so because there are no “positive” words in our language that have the same delicious (ok, so there’s one) feel to them when describing the act. There is something primal and satisfying about words such as fuck, cock, cunt; it is their power to shock that illicits such strong emotions and feelings, and what would sex be without those.

So we are stuck with the bizarre juxtaposition that, while proclaiming to the world that sex is good, wholesome, healthy, natural fun, we do so by describing it as dirty, filthy, naughty, bad.

This is a bit of a rambling diatribe. I wish I had a satisfying conclusion (pun intended) to raise. I wish I didn’t sound like a complete berk. Are we right to be wrong, or is wrong being right? I don’t know, I really don’t.

It’s a contradiction, and one that everyone who writes positively about sex faces, but it’s the use of such language that makes our particular genre (and indeed, the act itself) so enjoyable.

What can I say? Sometimes humans baffle me.



9 thoughts on “Talking Dirty

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  1. I can see what you saying but I think writing erotica that is clearly meant to be hot and sexy can show how these things, filth, sin, dirty etc are essentially something that we can enjoy. I think I am more in the reclaiming camp. I love those words. They feel rich, true, wholesome and real to me when used in this context.



  2. But some of the kink is that it is transgressive, that it breaks from the mould, I wonder if some of what turns me on wouldnt if society saw it as ‘ordinary’? Maybe it is sexual arrogance… but I don’t like that about me if its true, but I like doing what others won’t dare and would be shocked at, I like the myth that they’d be shocked… On the other hand, I want to move past that self-other judgemental nonsense in my sexuality…. so I agree I should and want to be more sex positive and celebratory and embracing of what I do as an academic and a feminist who is a masochistic submissive… so would you please start writing some more of it so I can enjoy ? pretty please.

    ps not all feminists btw see what you do as rejecting their core values but that’s a comment for another day

    pps, damnit if you don’t get me monologuing at you again – thank you.


  3. I know what you’re saying but for me it’s because what we do is so transgressive that makes it so much hotter and ‘those’ words don’t mean it’s not enjoyable.


  4. Language is a beautiful thing and the same words are claimed in different ways. There is a strong history of groups reclaiming words that were used to exclude and demean then and take them as their own to use with pride. I think a lot of these words are examples of that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my gosh you’re right!
    I do get a bit nudge nudge wink wink myself.
    But historically, these things we explore were sinful and naughty… (some history of course, some embraced it)
    I am going to try and look at my vocabulary.
    Thank you Mr Z


  6. I feel similarly. I think that for people who have a positive attitude about sex, using “naughty” words to describe it is mildly transgressive, which adds spice and thus fun. But for people (like my past self) who don’t have a positive attitude, those same words can be harmful because they can reinforce negative views.

    If you’re thinking about this from the perspective of a writer, those two groups (apologies for being reductionist) are different audiences. Sex comes in all different flavors, and not everyone agrees about what’s “hot”. I think there’s room for sex writing that shows sex as fun, playful, consensual, monogamous (if you like) and hot, aimed at people who are working toward being more sex positive. At least, that’s my experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The thing is, is that if we used nice words it would be all Mills & Boon crap. Euph off anyone?
    It’s a toughie. I think if we write about consenting adults enjoying themselves it can only be a positive thing. And not everything I’ve read has been filthy or naughty.

    There is also the fact that some people visit our blogs because they think it’s ‘naughty’. I have to hide the fact that this is what I do. It’s something that I love and I hate having to hide it. And then there’s the whole feminist issue – some would see me as a traitor to the cause whereas for me it is the single most empowering thing I have ever done. I long for a time when we can all just accept each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Words have power. If the historical power granted has been negative, it takes a conscientious turning of viewpoint to appropriate that vocabulary. I understand quite well the complexity of the semantical conundrum you present here, and I appreciate your willingness to address the topic. It’s an issue for which there is no easy answer. It’s not as simple as (re)definition and much more complicated than (re)constructing connotation. It’s age and culture and belief system(s) and power and (and and and)…

    …and I’ll spare you my tangent on linguistics. 🙂

    I think, in my own writing, I tend toward vocabulary that is descriptive, without necessarily being… I dunno… Subjective(?) Negatively connotatable(?) Something like that. o_O

    I tend toward words of heat and need and desire and arousal and demand and plea. It’s rarely occurred to me to use the word ‘naughty’, for example; I suppose because I don’t consider myself (or my actions) to be. Likewise ‘dirty’, ‘filthy’, ‘wicked’, etc.

    I recall once using the term “sinner’s lips” when describing someone’s features, and – regardless of having written about several other of our *other* parts (and how they fit together) in previous posts – that is the one and only term that ever gave him pause when he read it, and it required some discussion afterward. Interesting, that.


  9. When we write for others to read, we’re restricted by the common use of language. We use the words naughty, dirty etc because that’s how the are used by others. The positive or negative connotations are often changed by nuance and context, the juxtaposition is part of that. I know what you mean, but clearly I am rambling also

    Liked by 2 people

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