July 13th, 2010 | 17 Comments »

If you couldn’t quite tell from the title whether by ass holes I meant anuses or annoying people, then you already can understand some of my problem.

The broader concern is, What do we call sex organs and other sexy body parts? Clinical terms sound, well, clinical. Crude terms sound crude in a bad way to some people, crude in a good way to others, and crude in an “it depends” way to many. That is, no one wants to be called a cunt while on the phone with customer service; however, in the middle of a steamy sex scene, if a lover uses it with a partner, it can sound totally hot. To some people.

Whether a term for a body part is silly, puzzling, hot, a turn-on, insulting, or downright offensive depends on so many factors, mostly to do with one’s personal experience with the word and how one’s acquaintances react to it. Just as a carbonated non-alcoholic beverage can be pop, soda, cola, or a soft drink to different people, so too do penis and vagina go by many different names. Some writers like to use a wide variety, and others (like me) use just a few favorites.

It’s interesting, I think, to examine your own likes and dislikes and think about where they come from. Books you’ve read? Past lovers? Or just the sound of the word? For me, my dislikes are often related to sound — I find I don’t like long vowel sounds for sexy body parts (although I have nothing against long vowel sounds in general). So, I prefer the short o sound of cock to the long e of penis. Pussy, with its short u, is a yes; vagina with its long i is a no.

And then just a few days ago, while traveling, this notice in the bathroom of my hotel reminded me of the one body part I always struggle with:

What can I call, in writing, the ass hole? To me, anus doesn’t sound right. It’s too clinical, and it also makes me laugh, for some reason. Predictably, I don’t like its long a sound. But ass hole, even when written as two words instead of one, sounds like a guy who just cut you off in traffic for no good reason. And then… I’m stuck for any other good synonym. I don’t like cutesy workarounds like brown eye or poop chute. I want something that sounds sexy! Is that too much to ask for a body part that gives so many pleasurable feelings to so many? So I’m soliciting suggestions. If you have one I like, I’ll use it in my next story.

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