Sex. Screw. Hump. Score. Bang. Take her down. Pump. Smash it. Grab it. Break it off. Tap that ass. Romp. Breed. Beat. Bone. Ride. Slam it. Pound it. Ram it. Nail it. Impale. Wham, bam thank you ma’am. FUCK.
If fucking is so great, then why is Fuck You one of the most offensive retorts in the English language? – Comedian Lenny Bruce
As many times as I’ve thought about this, our language surrounding sex, compiling this list was still incredibly emotional. When I read the origin of some of the terms and the inherent violence therein, my heart stopped and the dark cloud of fear engulfed me whole. It still shocks me how much violence women are subjected to in their daily lives even in something that seems as benign as language. I’m in no way absolving myself of my portion in this huge pot of communal guilt, in fact, this list contains some of my favourites. No. 5 has to be my absolute go-to phrase which I don’t have to tell you I’m not especially proud of. Let’s do it. Let’s talk about sex.
For something that is allegedly so desirable and amazing, our language around sex is concerningly violent and markedly undesirable. I grew up reading Mills & Boon romance novels where sex was almost always referred to a making love. So for me, sex was always this soft, gentle experience shared by adults who at the very least had mutual attraction, consent and a modicum of respect for each other. I inevitably grew up and with that, the language of sex and associated expectations changed.
With words like fuck, bang and slam it was quickly clear that sex was not about mutual affection. It wasn’t gentle. And it certainly wasn’t something men and women shared, it was something men did to women with a level of aggression that I couldn’t bear to imagine. The implication also was that consent was not especially critical, take her down, smash it, pound it, don’t suggest or conjure up visions of consent.
Consent or lack thereof have been brought to the forefront especially with the #MeToo movement and I think it’s important to look at how our language does not suggest that consent matters. Our language is one of pursuit, domination, and victory in the form of taking something from the other person or doing something to the other person usually the woman. It’s also worth noting that this language, while it’s currently used by both men and women, was initially a preserve of the men. Pounding, smashing, nailing, impaling are things men do to women and the implications are disturbing considering sex should be a mutual exploration between two consenting adults.
I propose that language matters, words matter. Words set expectations. Words define and shape interactions. And I think that one of the critical steps in understanding and improving the relationship between men and women, especially in these #MeToo times, is evaluating our sexual lexicon and the inevitable actions that result from framing our intimate interactions the way we have.