Euphemisms, (or how I learned to stop worrying and love my lady garden/laa-laa/foof/hoo-haa)

So, here’s the thing about writing sex scenes. While it can be a lot of fun, there is the issue of what words to use, especially those for, you know… body parts.

Let me say first of all that I love euphemisms. LOVE them. They’re hilarious. I share lists like these with everyone:

Because they’re brilliantly bonkers (although I don’t believe anyone actually calls their vajayjay ‘Benedict Cumberbatch’ or refers to their joystick as ‘Simon Cowell’. I don’t believe even Simon Cowell would do that), but therein lies the rub.

Unless you’re writing a comedy sex scene, or have characters who talk that way (i.e. you’re writing Inbetweeners slash fiction), using names like these are more likely to break the mood than set it.

I don’t know about you, but if a guy wanted to introduce me to his ‘custard launcher’ ‘hungry caterpillar’ or ‘yoghurt slinger’ I’d be more likely to collapse in helpless laughter or vomit in disgust than want to get better acquainted. (Although ‘Mjolnir’ and ‘Sir Cummingsworth The Majestic’ might work…) Likewise, I’ve never met a real-life woman who’d use the word ‘clunge’ in a sexy situation. Does anyone actually find that a turn-on?

But on the flip side, you don’t want to be too vague or coy when you’re writing an explicit sex scene. I’d only use the phrase ‘my sex’ if I was writing about a particularly sheltered character, or a period piece (by which I mean set in the past, not sex during menstruation, which has its own set of euphemisms).

So how crude do you go? ‘Cunt’ is too much for some people, but it could make a scene hotter, the same way that ‘fucking’ can be hotter than just plain ‘having sex’. Or anything on this list:

I mean, some of these are pretty funny, but they’re not exactly sexy, unless you get turned on by snorting with laughter (and a lot of them are annoyingly heteronormative).

And then there’s the issue of using words that mean different things in different countries, or don’t translate. For example, as a Brit, if I wrote a woman talking about her fanny, I’d mean vagina (which is a word I’d only use if a character was visiting her gynecologist). But to an American, using fanny in a sex scene would imply anal sex, right?

I have been thinking about expanding my repertoire. I’m thinking about writing a story set in the 18th century, so I might have to be a bit more imaginative there as I generally use the same words, (cock, dick, pussy, cunt), so as not to break the mood. I once read a short story which was getting pretty hot until the male character used the phrase ‘shagging bone’ to describe his penis. I mean, it was meant to be funny, but really? Doesn’t exactly make a woman melt with lust, surely? Although each to their own, I suppose…

(As I was writing this, ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ by Def Leppard came on the radio. Must be fate.)


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