Sunday, June 24, 2012

Content Warning: Not for all readers (The semi-erotica rant)

I'm going to say that this is a rant. It's not a very good one, but it's about something that has bugged me for the longest time. Some of the stuff in here might be considered not safe for all audiences, and since I review a lot of teen books, I'm going to say that this is potentially offensive to some readers. If you don't want to hear me whinging about how authors write about genitalia, then you might want to skip this blog entry. It's not really that good of a blog entry, to be honest.


OK. On with the show!

Seriously... what's with authors nowadays being afraid to say the word "vagina"? Or any of the euphanisms for it?

I'm currently listening to the audio book for Laurell K Hamilton's Hit List, and while I know that she's far from the gold ring of erotica and sexual romance writing, she's just an example of something I've seen in many other books. Far too many to mention. During a sex scene in Hit List  we have the heroine Anita receiving oral sex and getting it on with the male character d'jour. Never at any point does Hamilton refer to Anita's vagina as anything other than "things low in my body" or "more delicate things". While I know that Anita's character started off incredibly repressed, it's sort of awful that a character that's supposed to be more free about her sexual life won't actually think the word "vagina" or even call it by any of the other terms out there, such as "pussy" or whatnot. Granted I know that vagina isn't always the sexiest of words, but Hamilton has no problems writing out the word "penis". Why is she suddenly so shy about writing "vagina"?

Now before people start complaining about how I'm picking on Hamilton or saying that she's not really a great erotica writer, I'm just more using her as an example of something that's more wide-spread (ha!) in literature with a high level of sexuality. I don't really count authors who don't mention sex all that much or where the focus isn't really on the sexual activities of the characters, just the ones where there's a higher emphasis on sex.

Why is it that so many authors tend to use coquettish terms for female genitalia? There's some who open up their thesaurus to find other terms that could be worked into a sex scene, but I've more seen it in books where they refer to the actions without ever actually referring to what bits and bobs are being used.  Since so many of the books out there are in first person narrative, does this mean that there's a trend of women not wanting to refer to their own genitalia by name? Or that we just don't think about it during coitus of any sort? Is it just that using terms like "pussy", "vagina", or anything to that extent makes the scene more out and out erotica than a scene that just happens to have sex? Or maybe it's just hard to think up enough terms to make the scene sexy?

I'm kind of baffled about the reasons, so I'm curious to hear what others might think. I don't think there's a huge conspiracy or anything, it's just frustrating when I read books that are known for having a high sexual content and the authors shy away from naming lady parts.


  1. Part of the problem might be that most of the slang words for vagina are not really the type of words that fit into many sex scenes - pussy, c*nt, box etc. I'd personally be more jarred by someone saying pussy in a sex scene than I would by down below, and I'm not prude (I swear!). I also agree that a lot of the slang words are either too technical or too crude and I can see some authors wanting to give the scene a more 'high brow' feel (and less out and out erotica) by avoiding certain terms.

  2. True- that's a good point. What frustrates me though is that you get the authors who try to state that their sex scenes are so hot and sizzling, but then shy away from better descriptions of the sex. I know that not every author wants to write a sex scene of Zane proportions, but some of it's kind of vague.

  3. I'm with you. I detest childish names for body parts and it pulls me right out of the story. I don't want "turgid man flesh" and I sure as hell don't want "down there" for girls.