How to change your words and your mind about sex

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In last print edition of Let’s Talk About Sex, we talked about the benefits of cuddling.  Overall the piece was well received. I got a few messages from people thanking me for considering the benefit non-sexual touching in a column that normally deals with topics of the raunchier variety.

Overall, I was pretty proud of the piece, and the issue as a whole. That was until I read the print version of the column, which featured this sentence, “Get your head out of the gutter, I’m talking about cuddling.” I know that one-hundred-ten percent of people ignored the statement but, being the neurotic masochist that I am when it comes to my work, I started freaking out.

When I submitted the piece to the proverbial journalistic machine, the sentence originally read, “get your head into the gutter, I’m talking about cuddling.” It was meant to be a “clever” turn of phrase on the sex negative cliché. I say “clever” because that’s my description and no one else’s. Unfortunately my “cleverness” slipped pass the AP style tyrants, more commonly known as copy editors, who looked over the piece before publication.

I’m not blaming the copy-editors for the change. No matter how clever, excuse me, “clever” I thought myself to be, it’s a decidedly odd change to a common phrase. But the change does bring up an issue that I I’ve been focusing on lately, sex positive nomenclature.

Sex positive nomenclature is simply the idea that we should look at the words we use to describe or relate to our sexuality and change the verbiage to something more sex positive. For example, the phrase “get your mind out of the gutter,” suggests that by thinking sexually your mind is stewing in garbage, refuse, or other waste products. By changing the phrase to “get your mind into the gutter” I was trying to make fun of the ridiculous notion that sexual thought is dirty or to say that if it is dirty then I want to wallow in the so-called filth.

One of the biggest gripes I have with the way we talk about sex is our use of the word “fuck”. I love the word “fuck,” I love saying it and I loved typing it. In fact every time I reread this portion of this article, I’m going to say “fuck” more emphatically than the previous read, just because I can and it feels good. But the word “fuck” has a stronger negative connotation than it does positive and thus earns the top spot on my proverbial shit list.

The word “fuck” has a myriad of meanings and forms, which would probably push my boss into a supersonic shriek of rage and deletion if I laid them out in their original forms, so I’m going to forgo that (redacted) and work around it.  The word “fuck” can mean to have sex, “it’s most literal meaning,” according to Wikipedia, to disturb, to be cheated, to be broken or damaged, a contemptible person, and something that is annoying or abnormal.

Of those many uses, only one is positive. But even when used for that purpose, it still carries the baggage of its far greater number of purely negative uses/definitions. I guess you could say everyone wants to “fuck”, but nobody wants to be” fucked”, which is interesting. It suggests that being “fucked,” which has zero positive uses, is a bad thing.

So, does that mean that ever person who has ever been penetrated has had something bad happen to them? Most people would say no, and I would strongly agree with them. But if that’s true then where did connect the two and why do so many men find the idea of being “fucked” so incredibly disturbing? I wasn’t able to find any sources for the origin of the use of the word “fucked” as a pejorative. But I have theories, all of which are centered on a sexist and incredibly sex negative culture using certain words to express their discomfort concerning sexuality without addressing it head on.

I do not believe that addressing the problems with sexual nomenclature, which really needs a better name, will be some sort of cure all of our sexual hang-ups and issues. But I do think that changing the way we talk about sexuality will change the discussion about it, which changes our thoughts about it, which changes people’s behaviors. Since that’s the ultimate goal, why not start changing it within yourself?

Try to make small changes with yourself. Maybe you can try to only use the word “fucked” in the positive sense. We have a ton of words to express our feelings on topics like things that are disturbing, cheaters, unfair, broken, damaged, contemptible, annoying, and abnormal, use those instead. Maybe you can expand upon the notion of being “fucked” to say things like, “fucked without proper lubrication,” which can be quite painful for all parties involved, or “don’t fuck you,” which is definitely a bad thing, especially when it’s cold or rainy.  The slight changes removed the negative connotation from the act of sex as a whole and put it on a sexual act that is often painful or at least uncomfortable, and are.

I know this seems like one of those nitpicky things that only people who care too much seem to bring up, but it’s really not. If you are with me in this battle for sexual advancement, which also needs a better name, then you know that sometimes it’s the little things that count. C’mon, get your head into the gutter that was totally a penis joke.

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