July 13th, 2010

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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This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 at 12:27 pm and is filed under • My Problem with Ass Holes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

17 Responses to “My Problem with Ass Holes”

Dorla Moorehouse Says:

Thank you for posting this! I am currently staring at a sooo-close-to-being-done story that has anal in it, and I just don’t know what to do. I also don’t like the word “anus,” but “ass hole” neither looks nor sounds right, and everything else is too cutesy. I will probably end up going with “ass hole” if I don’t think of something better (as the deadline is just 48 hours away . . .), but I am always on the lookout for suggestions.

For male and female genitalia, I have my favorite word for each and only use variation when I feel like I’m getting repetitive. I love the word “cunt” – I like how it sounds, and as a feminist, I’m a big fan of reclaiming the word cunt in a positive context – and what’s more positive than enjoying the pleasure your cunt can give? I don’t like the word “pussy” that much (just not a big fan of the way it sounds), but I like it better than “vagina” (too clinical), and everything else really is too cute, so I will use “pussy” from time to time to shake things up.

For male genitalia, I just really like the sound of the word “cock,” so it’s my word of choice, with “dick” being a second favorite, but pretty much only used to avoid being repetitive. Again, “penis” is too clinical for my tastes (though I think I’ve used it once or twice for variety, and I’ve seen other writers use it well), and I hate pretty much all other euphemisms.

Shar Says:

@Dorla: Sometimes you can use ass and it’s clear that you mean ass hole, but… not always… I wrote earlier about preferring to use cock a dozen times than use silly synonyms (like jade pestle or beef bayonet), and I like dick too–I think because they’re both one-syllable words, like fuck. They seem to fit.

Jeremy Edwards Says:

You probably don’t care for rosebud (which I haven’t used but have seen a fair amount). It does come with the risk of effectively inviting Orson Welles into the situation—and we all know what a scene stealer he was.

Shar Says:

@Jeremy: Oh, dear… yeah, my mind went first to sled! Which is just confusing. Maybe simply bud? Or would that sound too much like breasts, and get people all muddled…

Willsin Rowe Says:

Dammit, I typed up a response and it was eaten by the fannypress! It went a little something…like…this!

I once used “crater”, which sounds bad out of context. My characters were facing their sexual addiction to each other. They were holed up (hee hee) in a hotel room for three days, naked. She was laying on the bed, on her side. He was staring at her trying not to jump her.

He sees for an instant the dark little crater between her cheeks. His fingers, his tongue, his cock, all shiver with recognition.

I also just thought of “sunflower”, which might work if you’re writing fairytale smut…

Shar Says:

@Wıllsın: Sorry about fanny eatıng your comment! Of course , to Amerıcans, fanny means ass, whereas to Australıans ıt means one’s lady busıness, or hoo-ha, or va-jay-jay… goodness, the problems are never-endıng!

I was a bıt skeptıcal at fırst about crater, but ın your context ıt really does work nıcely. (I hope your guy dıd jump her ın the end.) (So to speak.)

Oh, and apologıes for the weırd letter ı–I’m on a foreıgn keyboard and can’t locate the correct one. I’d look for longer, but I already spend 10 mınutes trackıng down the @ sıgn and I’ve lost patıence.

Fulani Says:

I asked a gay friend of mine who rattled off about twenty. Some were definitely not cutesy but not erotic either, like ‘rusty sheriff’s badge’. However he’s promised to get back to me with a list and I’ll forward it when it comes.

Meanwhile a brief online thesaurus search suggests slightly vague terms such as orifice, opening, portal…

Shar Says:

Gosh, I wouldn’t even “get” rusty sheriff’s badge, I don’t think! Too funny.

For me, what’s working best is writing in such a way that a term like ass can be clear from the context–that is, that I’m talking about the hole, not the cheeks.

It’s such a personal thing, isn’t it, sex word choices. It’s a bit limiting as a writer to only use your top three favorites; if you only did that, every character would sound a bit similar after a while. Reading good sex writing from other authors helps me with that too, I find — for example, I’ve just never liked the word bitch, but after reading it used to great effect in others’ writing, I came to feel better about it. I don’t want to hear it as a term of endearment for myself in my actual life, but I could use it in writing now from one character to another without feeling that it showed ill intent.

Emerald Says:

I so hear you about what word to use for “ass” (“hole”). I have tended to just go with “ass,” hoping/feeling that in context, it is clear what I’m talking about. And interestingly, like yourself, I also like “cock” (one of my favorite words) and “pussy.” “Cunt” and “dick” are seconds that I also tend to use just to avoid repetition.

Yes, it does seem interesting to me how personal such word choices seem to be. Perhaps because such a specific response (arousal) is sought? So that a word that doesn’t do it for the reader/writer in question is not just unnoticed but may have the opposite effect (or, as you mentioned, even offend)? Seeming conundrum. 🙂

I too liked Willsin’s use of “crater,” by the way—and felt impressed by it!


Shar Says:

I think it’s also how the writer uses it. I used to never like the word dick, because I’d only heard it used as an insult. But I read it in a lot of erotica, and written into a good story, it now sounds quite hot to me. And yet, and yet… some words just can’t be written up happily for me. I don’t think I’m ever going to like snatch.

Someone famous should hold a “Name the Ass Hole” contest, and give away, I don’t know, cupcakes or something (rosebuds? ha ha) to the winner, and then we call use the new word. If we try hard enough, it’ll go viral, and in 4 days all of our readers will be already familiar with it.

J Says:

My dearly departed gay brother used the term ‘cave’ very affectionately…

Shar Says:

LOL… “cave” sounds so… large! “Her tight, puckered cave….” But you know, I really can hear it being said with affection. So I will raise a Thanksgiving toast (because today is that day, after all) in honor of your brother for that contribution.

gio Says:

my Italian friend uses the word Coula… I love it! nice soft vowels and if you use it in your literature, introduce it… and let it spread! 🙂

Shar Says:

Oh, nice word! And a new one to me. I’ll have to use it. After all, that’s how words spread… people write them, people read them…

Will aka animal Says:

I’ve used “rectally challenged” to describe a person who does not know how to handle someone acting like an asshole.

Here’s a fine piece of prose “her sapphire-like sphincter winked at me as I made my way through the valley ‘tween the globes of her shapely ass.” Although I cannot ever recall seeing a blue anus.

There’s also the ever popular {to Howard Stern listeners} “balloon-knot.”

Shar Says:

Yeah, that’s an odd image–sapphire-like in what way? Color? Shape? Let’s hope it was in value. 😉

Fulani Says:

I tend to use ‘ass’ on the grounds that everyone understands it. I have a gay friend who can reel off about 20 different terms, but most slang doesn’t travel well enough to make sense for my fiction.

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