In the U.S., most of the words we consider to be “vulgar” are words that have to do with sex, or, at least with bodily functions. If something goes terribly wrong, we shout out words that indicate sexual intercourse or defecation and, to really offend someone, you either say something that indicates that they’ve had sex with their mother or that their mother is overly sexual, (i.e. no better than a female dog in heat). This isn’t true for every country. For example, when French Canadians swear, they use words like “calisse” (literally challis) or “tabarnak” (derived from tabernacle), words that disrespect the church or religion. We think the use of sex-based or body-based swear words is merely one more indication of the sex negativity of our society and we refuse to buy into it. Sure, the words we have in the U.S. may not be ideal, but that doesn’t mean we should borrow those of other cultures and eschew our own charged and imperfect options. So we choose to reclaim them, and we use these words in our workshops and in our day-to-day discussions of sexuality. We have our favorites, “cock” for men, “pussy” for women and we embrace all of your favorites as well. If one of our male clients comes in and has a dick, a peter or a “Goodyear Blimp”, we say “hooray,” if a woman comes in and she has a vulva, a cunt, or a “Clitty Cat,” we say “bravo.” In the South, when someone swears, you might hear another person quickly correct them by saying “don’t use Language with me.” Language is powerful, important and mutable (our use of words changes their meaning) and swear words are no more than that, a part of our language. We can use them lovingingly or with fear, we can give in to sex-negativity or make these words our own. So we say to all you men out there, “you have a beautiful cock” and to the women “you have the most luscious pussy”! We encourage you to be playful with sexual and sexy words and experience the joy of oral freedom. Try on some new ones everyday, make up some of your own and see which words fit best for you!
Loved this article! I had never thought about it this way before, but now wonder why I never noticed. I *love* the way you’ve reframed it.
Dave in Sunnyvale
As a former academic linguist, I say you’re dead on–no word is inherently “taboo.” Liberating our language is a MAJOR step toward achieving a sex-positive society.
Words are the most powerful Aphrodisiac there are because they come from the most erotic zone of our body, the mind. Romantic words can make me melt and feel good and “nasty” words between me and my lover can feel us with lust. Both are great fun. Nice article.
Fantastic! It is remarkable to realize how much we disparage bodily functions with profanity.
It is wonderful to see people taking back the meaning of words. Words only have the meaning we ascribe to them, and agree to. I will be more mindful of the meanings and associations of the words and phrases I use.