Today it’s all about sex.
Talkin’ About Fuckin’
Sacred and Profane, Alex London
I find people normally don’t enjoy talking about sex. I mean talking about sex in a meaningful way. Most find it clichéd, offensive, insensitive. I will say that I’m somewhat sympathetic though I spend at least some time doing just that — talking and writing about sex. But I have to say there problems with sex talk: the vocabulary is inept and the sex is, well, not so clear.
If you want to know the state of any issue, all you have to do is look at its nomenclature — a fancy word that describes a system or set of terms (vocabulary) especially in a particular science, discipline, or art. When it comes to sex, we have a lousy vocabulary. We have a small set of words that offend somebody or other, even though they’re as old as the English language itself and actually convey important meanings. We have a sort of Jim Crow-era style mentality when it comes to certain sex words — a linguistic segregation. We have the ones we can say in front of children. one for the “ladies,” others for the old geezers, the ones for the upper classes, the ones for lower classes — god forbid if I were to try to all this in my sex blog! I wouldn’t be able to write anything! Our language, our nomenclature, for sex — the medicalized, the four-lettered, and the romanticized — is indicative of our anxieties about sex.
Take a good old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon word like fuck, as an example. In our current movie ratings system, if you use fuck to mean actually having sex, then the film is deemed unfit for younger viewers and must be rated for mature audiences. However, If you use fuck as a swear word to express psychological violence such as anger or outrage, you can still advertise the film to children. It’s the hypocrisy of middle class values that they there is more concerned with appearances, and the act of fucking isn’t an “appearance,” it’s the dirty deed. We’re conditioned to use sex words for hostility but anxious to use them for the warmth or sex.
Fuck got a new lease on linguistic life during the counter-culture of the sixties, along with the rest of the underground language for the body. Fuck embraced free love and snubbed its nose at the Vietnam War all at the same time. Sociologists like to describe the so-called sexual revolution in the context of The Pill, but it was just as much a revolt of language — sexual language. Artists of the time wanted to speak their minds with the entirety of public language at their disposal. Some, such as Lenny Bruce, were censored by the state and social norms. But in the end, the state lost. The words were emancipated — at least for men. Blacks had been on the forefront of sexual language for decades, with artists such as Redd Foxx and those before him, exploring and pushing the sexual language envelope, but that was underneath the radar. Later black comics, such as Richard Pryor, did all kinds of shit to let loose all kinds of words.
Eventually, feminism — the non-puritanical, cutting-edge side anyway — emancipated women to use all the “unladylike” words, reclaiming bold language such as dyke and pussy and claim them as women’s turf, not merely men’s labels.
People are sometimes afraid to use sex words because they fear they will be perceived as sexual. If we keep our lips sealed, we can maintain the illusion that we are not sexual creatures. Fuck became a word that so-called “well-bred” women could use and it also defined a generation gap. Popular music turned it into a lyric. But saying the word stills says more about your political stance than about your sexuality.
Think about it: words describing other controversial or problematic aspects of our lives don’t get people so upset. No one ever says, “I can’t stand the word war,” or no one goes off on a rant that “the word torture is too cruel to use,” or screams, “I won’t allow anyone to say taxes in my home!” We manage to discuss all kinds of horrible and psychologically conflicted issues privately and publicly without choking up. Even words that insult and stereotype, such as spic and nigger, get more public debate and defense than George Carlin’s seven words you can’t say on television. Sex is the only topic where we blame language for holding us back. We suffer from a collective sexual tongue-tiedness. Almost any sexual expression we come up with bothers someone either because it isn’t sensitive enough, or it’s too Disneyfied.
I had a woman friend who hated the word cunt. I happen to like it because it because for me the word cunt crosses boundaries. It’s subversive, profane — like me. I have met people who can’t even bring themselves to say cunt. The point is that perhaps we do need more words that are sexual. As an English/ Spanish bilingual, I can tell you English misses the sexual mark totally, when it comes to matters of sex. We’re afraid of the words we do have at our disposal. In a way, we’re afraid that if we let the dangerous words out, sex will be more dangerous, life will be uglier, we won’t know what to expect.
I personally believe we need that surprise. There’s nothing uglier than silence and denial. We’re choking on our own sex words, drawing a line between this word and that. I have a cock, and I have balls, intelligence, and an active imagination and sometimes I have a range of experiences that begs for as many names as I can conceive.
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…