Sex talk
Speaking of Dirty Words

Simon Sheppard, QSyndicate.com

"Hey, babe, talk dirty to me!"

Fuck yeah! Naughty words have a sexual power all their own, and it's fucking puzzling why that should be so. They are, after all, only words, symbolic scribbles on a page or collections of sounds that, by common consent, mean something. Yet people have been fired, fined, and fucked over for uttering them. What gives?

The easy answer is that dirty words refer to sexual (and excretory) subjects. Though "fellatio" and "cocksucking" both refer to pole-smoking, one is "dirty," the other's not. Is it bluntness, then, that makes a word unspeakable? Maybe not - "crap" and "shit" are equally abrupt, but one is "printable" where the other's not.

Clearly, cultural tradition plays a big part. Take the word "fanny," for instance. In America it's a cute word for the rump; in the U.K., a much ruder word for the female genitalia. And the French baiser, which literally means " to kiss," is common slang for "to screw," so be careful trotting out your high school French on your next trip to Gay Paree. Watch your fanny. Or not.

Interestingly, taboo words are often unmoored from their literal meanings but forbidden nonetheless. "That guy is a fucking idiot" rarely means that the fellow in question is ignorant about intercourse, and "Don't give me that shit" has little to do with fecal Christmas presents. Most interesting of all (at least in English) is the history of "bloody."

A mere century ago, the word was, in England, so obscene that it was unspeakable in polite society. "Polite" is the operative word here. The Oxford English Dictionary (second edition) notes it was " constantly in the mouths of the lowest classes, but by respectable people considered a horrid word." Clearly, crass has to do with class – heaven forbid we should use the slang of the earthy peasants!

Even the class angle is tricky, though. The distinctly high-toned New Yorker magazine regularly prints words in full that your local newspaper most likely censors through the use of dashes. (So perhaps censorship has now become the tool of the supposedly less-educated, less-liberal lower classes.)

And speaking of that dash device. Isn't it odd that omitting some of the letters in words like "f--k" should be somehow acceptable, when it's f---ing obvious what's being said? It's almost as if the squiggles of letters themselves are deemed to have malevolent magic power. Perversely, it's partly the banning that gives banned words their transgressive power. "Bloody," after all, is now widely used as a mild swear word, nothing more.

And what does all this have to do with hard dicks and throbbing assholes? Well, clearly, even in this enlightened age, dirty words retain power, and dirty talk is part of many a guy's bedroom repertoire. It need not be balls-out verbal abuse; just murmuring a nasty word at the right time can sure spice things up.

"When I'm with a bottom," says one obscenity enthusiast, "I love to call his butthole a 'cunt.' Not only does it play with gender – and use a really, really forbidden word – it also sexualizes his hole like no other word I know."

Clearly, some guys would object to the c-word during sex, while others will lap it up. As with many another edgy move, initiating the use of dirty words can be a matter of feedback. Say something naughty and wait for a response. If it's enthusiastic ("Oh, yeah. Fuck that cunt!"), then charge ahead, upping the ante. If your sex buddy is perceptibly cold, then it's back to vanilla chitchat.

After all, even fucking without fuck-words can be fucking marvelous, no?

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion

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