Allow me to begin with a short apology. Paying the rent and getting new passport stamps (Dubai!) has kept me away from this blog for too long. I'm doing my best to get some posts banked so that doesn't happen again. Thanks for your patience.
On with the show!
A couple months back I took a poll on Twitter: What’s your least favorite word for male or female sex organs? (Also, hey there, Mom. This post may be awkward to read. And all y’all out there reading this at your desks at work after the holiday weekend, maybe give that idea a second thought.)
Anyway, back to the topic at hand (oh look, a pun already!) the responses FLOODED in to my question. The reason I’d asked it was quite simple. I was happily reading along in a book and I came across the word “quim.” Every once in a while I find a word I have never seen, and I cannot proceed until I’ve looked it up. Imagine my surprise when Merriam-Webster came up empty. But Urban Dictionary (always a good scholarly resource) came through for me with this:
The noun quim was a Victorian-era word that was used specifically to refer to the fluids produced by the vagina, specifically during orgasm. In modern usage it is primarily heard in British slang and is a derogatory or vulgar term for the vagina itself. The word is rarely used today in English slang but used in Wales as an insult rather than the above meaning. The word may be related to Welsh 'cwm' meaning 'hollow' or 'valley'.
1. Shirley's quim was soaking wet.
2. Go eat some quim you fucking quim.
I include the whole definition because their examples are most excellent, and are one of my favorite aspects of Urban Dictionary as a resource. The thing is, the book I was reading was neither set in England nor did it take place in the Victorian era. So to use “quim” was a deliberate choice by the author, made presumably due to her preference for it as a genital descriptor. (And when I read back that sentence, yikes, does it sound clinical. But really? What choice do I have?)
In taking my incredibly scientific poll of a thousand people, I learned that there seems to be no word for either male or female sex organs that everyone likes. My personal favorites among the female synonyms (don’t worry, I’m gonna include ALL the results at the bottom of this post) were “petal,” “velvet vise,” and “meat locker.” On the guy side, I’m a HUGE ;-) fan of “turgid rod,” “sword,” and “hot meat stick.”
And as an aside, I was reading a book I ended up really liking the other day in which the word “cooter” was used. Uh-uh. This ain’t The Dukes of Hazzard, yo. That word’s got no place in sexytimes.
This may not be the most life-changing topic on which to ruminate, but all these words swirling around led me to a pretty straightforward conclusion. When you’re writing erotic fiction, or even just straight-up romance, not all of the words you use in your love scenes are going to make all of your readers happy. And you’ve got to change it up so as not to continually repeat your phrasing. But…you also need to make sure you use words people KNOW and that make sense within the context of your story. As with any writing, fiction or not, using synonyms for the sake of using synonyms never ends well.
My advice is to try not to deviate too far into creativity-land when describing your characters’ genitals. The last thing you want is for someone to wince, put down your book (or god forbid, get out the dictionary!), and speak negatively about your writing to others. There will always be some hater who doesn’t like your word choice. Nothing to be done about them. They probably like fade-to-black sex scenes anyway, and you can’t make that your problem.
And…let us not forget that as not all sex is “Insert Tab A into Slot B,” you should seriously reconsider the word “anus.” This isn’t a prostate exam. It’s sex. This word makes a lot of readers cringe. I twitch just typing it. But that’s MY preference. If you feel strongly about using it, live la vida loca and do so. Just know in advance that it doesn’t toss everyone’s salad.
For the record, the two words which did not appear on the lists? “Cock” and “pussy.” Maybe there’s a lesson in that. And as many of my friends would tell you, cock is always the right answer.
Have you got a word you can’t stand that didn’t get entered (heh, heh) in the poll? Post a comment!
The Unsexy Finalists
Bundle of Nerves
Rod (Silk Covered Steel Rod, Love Rod, Turgid Rod)
Hot Meat Stick
Originally published May 27, 2014