Friday, June 30, 2017

Phallic Friday - coarse language

Yesterday there were some tweets that prompted this post - great tweets that made me think.

My publisher wanted an excerpt from Team Player to go on the blog. I'm not fond of picking excerpts because there's 80 000+ words, which ones do I pick?!? What do I want to convey? How far into the story should I pick? It's a nightmare. Anyway, I picked one - you can read it here.

Kate Cuthbert is my esteemed publisher, and she tweeted it with a NSFW (Not Safe For Work) warning, but made it fun by saying how those words were safe in her work.

They are in mine too (funny that!).

Kate's follow on reply to a comment, said she had a running tally of how many uni students she could offend with her "cunt is a feminist word" lecture.

I laughed when I read that, but then I got to seriously thinking. We don't have a lot of words to describe the female body. I refuse to use 'pussy' because it's a cat and I can't use it for a female body part, sorry. I can use scientific/technical terms like labia, vulva, vagina, clitoris, but you can only use them so many times. And in this extract, I wanted something that described the whole part, because Hannah was wearing jeans, so technically, Charlie couldn't be touching any of the individual parts. I run into a missing part of our language. What word can I use to describe this?

I can say - He shoved/placed/held his hand between her legs, or thighs - but it's not technically correct either. There are words to describe every other body bit. The equivalent area for men we have cock, dick, penis, manhood, balls, scrotum, sacs, junk, and however many others you'd like to use.

Please don't tell me to use 'lady parts' - I feel like I'm five.

I want a word to use. Quim is okay - but I'm not writing an historical.

I use 'cunt'. I use it proudly. I'm using it as a word to describe a body part. I'm not using it to swear, or using it in a derogatory manner. I wouldn't mind having another word so I could mix it up a bit...but I don't really have one.

I want to be mature about sex, so 'lady parts' or 'wet bits' or 'squishy softness' or whatever description like that really doesn't get the tone I'm after.

I'm not deliberately trying to provoke. I'm trying to use language I'm comfortable with, given my limited choice of correct words.

And I use swearing in my stories too. I could leave it out, but if I'm using cunt and people get upset, I may as well use the language many people use in casual conversation, like fuck and shit and damn and bloody. I'm writing contemporary erotic stories.

My clean other half writes without these words, and also without sex, so I know it's possible. However, I make a conscious choice to use these words. I make a conscious choice to write without censorship. I make a conscious choice to write about sex, to write it explicitly, and to keep it fun. I have no problem if you choose not to read it. 

After much thought, I agree with Kate that 'cunt' is a feminist word. It's a word we need to reclaim from derogatory connotations, because it's one of the few we have to uniquely describe our full genitalia. I'll keep on using it, proudly. Let's get it away from being 'crude'.

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