Remember my glossary of excruciating poly jargon? It was quite a hit. Turns out polyamory isn’t the only bit of the sexual world where all the words are shit, though - we’ve really got to figure out WTF to call our private parts. So what are the options?
The Genitalia Glossary
I genuinely have nothing against the word ‘cock’. It’s kind of resoundingly satisfying, isn’t it? You can use it in ordinary conversation if you have the right sort of friends, and it works during sex without sounding completely stupid. It might be the least rubbish word we have for any kind of genitalia, and therefore it obviously describes a penis. This is why we can’t have nice things.
There’s a strange cultural divide about the word ‘cunt’. Up in Scotland, it’s a swear-word no worse than ‘fuck’ - not something you’d say in front of your boss during working hours, but perfectly acceptable in the pub and practically a term of endearment amongst the kinds of mates who banter with each other. Down here in England it’s a little harsher than that, but not much; used in dirty talk it’s no more blinked at than ‘cock’ is, and used as an insult it raises eyebrows only because it indicates you’re more pissed off than ‘wanker’ would imply.
In the States, though, it seems to be the worst thing anyone could possibly say to another person to such an extent that we blue-mouthed Brits shock them rather. I have never been entirely sure why this is.
I’m quite fond of the word ‘cunt’, really. It’s pretty much the only one I don’t feel like a twat using to describe my own, well, twat.
Which dick is the right dick to use and why....
The trouble with calling your dick your dick is that it kind of makes you sound like a dick. It’s a step down in rudeness from ‘cock’, though, which means that if you’re talking about your dick with friends who you can’t be quite that sweary in front of you kind of have to call it your dick.
Why are you telling those friends about your dick anyway, though? If you can’t say ‘cock’ in front of them, they’re probably not close enough or rude enough to want to hear about your dick. Stop being such a dick, good grief.
And the biggest genitalia glossary cluster fuck between the continents is....
Dear Americans: if you’ve ever wondered why every British person in earshot dissolves into a fit of giggles every time you mention your fannypacks or ask someone to put their fanny down on that chair over there, this is why: here, it means the other bit. You know. The front one. The lady part.
Jesus H. Christ, we’re bad at naming female genitalia.
It’s also, of course, a legitimate shortening of the name ‘Frances’ that used to be much more common than it is now. Mary Wollstonecraft, the grandmother of modern feminism and actual mother of writer Mary Shelley, had a lifelong friend and probable lover whose name was genuinely Fanny Blood. Ms. Blood died in childbirth, a fact that caused me to choke on my takeaway coffee when I was informed of it during a lecture at university. The lecturer rolled his eyes and gave me a half-amused glare. “There’s always one”, he said.
I’m actually giggling again as I write this. For some reason I still have the sense of humour of a twelve year old boy.
Oh, god, I hate all these words so much. See also ‘axe-wound’. In some circles there seems to be a horrifying trend for describing female genitalia as though it was something unnatural; a problem, an aberration. The terms in this category all make my skin crawl. I can’t even try to be funny about them convincingly.
At the other end of the scale, there’s all the words designed to make it seem like we’re pissing out petals and fairies and possibly the occasional fuzzy kitten. Ladygarden might be the most egregious, but ‘flower’ apparently exists as well. I hate how euphemistic these terms are; I’d much rather call a spade a spade, a cunt a cunt, and an incidence of internalised sexism an incidence of internalised sexism. Speaking of which...
With a health dose of sarcasm we give you...
“He slid his throbbing manhood deep into the heart of her sex with a tantalising slowness that made her gasp out in longing. She parted like a budding flower, and his stiff tool seemed for that moment to be the centre of her world. ‘Oh, my darling’, she breathed, heart pounding in her breast. ‘The patriarchal cissexism inherent in the way erotic authors name their characters’ naughty bits just turns me on so much.’
There is nothing even remotely sexy about the word ‘penis’. I can tell you from experience that it’s possible to forget this while writing a sex scene, and then shudder deeply upon reading it back to yourself afterwards. There’s no way of making it work, I’m afraid, people. There’s nothing sexy about the word ‘penis’.
As far as I’m concerned, the only truly legitimate use of ‘pussy’ is when you’re having sex with someone who likes dirty talk and you’ve already said ‘cunt’ enough times in the last few phrases that it’s time to mix it up a bit.
I’m not a particular fan, but it’s so fucking ubiquitous. I have come to the conclusion that the only reason we use it so often is that for some reason Americans won’t say the word ‘cunt’.
It’s kind of fluffy and infantilising, though. I like to afford my anatomy a bit of no-nonsense grown-up dignity, thanks.
Genitalia glossary gives you a quick refresher on that anatomy class you slept thru...
All the words we’ve got for describing the kind of bits I have are so terrible that we often default to ‘vagina’, which is a shame because the actual vagina is often not the bit you’re trying to talk about. The rest of them - labia, clitoris, pubic mound - all have their own names too, you know. I used to know someone who declared that if we were going to name the whole shebang after what people thought the most important part of it was, she was going to call hers her ‘clit’ for ever more.
If men have cocks and teenage boys have dicks, then children have willies. This is all well and good: kids have got to call it something, after all. What bothers me is when fully grown adults use the word unironically, like it’s somehow not the most stupid fucking thing they’ve ever said with their mouth. I mean seriously, guys: I realise that these are not particularly dignified bits of anatomy at the best of times, but you don’t have to hang a lampshade on it like that.
Got more names for your 'private parts' that we missed? Then let us know your
favorite words and we'll slap them onto our genitalia glossary.
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