Body Language

Note: The following post contains graphic language. About bodies. And their parts. Also there’s some random swearing. Well maybe a lot of swearing. A metric ton of swearing, really.

Also metaphors.

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I had a conversation with a female friend of mine last week, which reminded me of a conversation with another female friend of mine a few weeks before that, which reminded me of an attitude I used to have a few years back, which brings us back to a here-and-now that’s a little bit clearer for me.

So let’s start with the thing I thought a few years ago:

I was active on a lot of writer loops, reader loops, M/M loops (ah, energy. I miss you so). There was a conversation that popped up fairly often (and I imagine still pops up fairly often) on why women write M/M. It turns out women write M/M for a variety of reasons, how wild is that? From “if one man is great, two is better,” to “I cut my writing teeth on slash and now I’m here” to “I wanted to explore relationships that featured couples who carried a different sort of gender baggage” to “I like love stories in whatever form” and on and on. All of it was interesting because it’s interesting to find out why writers write (interesting to other writers, anyway). But there was one that never failed to piss me off.

“Girl parts are icky and gross in erotic romance. I’d rather not have to describe them.”

What. The. Fuck.

I was judgmental as shit. You’re talking about your own bodies! I thought. Girl parts are fucking awesome! I thought. If the only reason you’re not writing M/F or F/F is that you don’t like the way women’s bodies are portrayed, then write a fucking book that portrays them differently! I thought. You’re fucking writers! That’s our fucking job!

I swear a lot internally.

Fast forward to around a month ago. I was talking to a friend on the phone, and we ended up talking about body parts.

 

“I’m thinking of writing an M/F,” I said, “so I’m picking up a lot of newer ero-romance to see if there are any new words in circulation to describe female parts.”

“I can tell you right now that they’re all the same ones. There is no good word for vagina. Or vulva. None.”

“Oh, come on. I’ve been out of the loop for like seven years. There’ve gotta be–”

“Nope.”

“Huh,” I said.

“Yep,” she said. “I hate them *all.*” And then she brightened. “You know what? We should make up a new euphemism. One that has no baggage tied to it whatsoever and has nothing to do with anything. Like… Like… Oh! Like ‘shoe’!”

“Haha. What?”

“Or stereo!”

I laughed. “Or checkbook! That way your body could actually write checks it couldn’t cash!”

She groaned. “Or… Or…” Several moments of silence. “Or leaf.”

We both went “Ohhh.”

“That actually sounds kinda nice,” I said.

“Yeah. Yeah, I think I’m gonna go with it,” she said.

“And it totally works. Because a leaf is what’s left when someone takes your flower.”

She groans again, this time with real pain. “Aaaaand now you’ve ruined it for me.”

“What? Why?”

The next few minutes were her explaining to me why the whole concept of “taking someone’s flower” is kinda gross. Then I felt bad.

“Okay, okay. I take it back.”

“You can’t take it back! It’s in my head! Now we’re going to have to use stick or bark or twig or something.”

I chuckled. “I really am sorry.”

 

She grumbled for a while longer and then we talked about other things. After the call ended, I decided I still kinda like the word “leaf.” Dunno if I’m the type of writer who can pull off coining a term like that, though.

Which brings us to last week, and a txt convo I had with another friend of mine. I’d read a review where the reviewer had called one of my characters a cunt. I’ve been writing for a while, so I’m used to harsh reviews. They’re part of the baggage that comes with writing for public consumption. But that statement had really jarred me, and I was ranting about it with her.

 

Me: Saying sorry for using the word “cunt” as an insult does not excuse him from using it. Good lord. I know a lot of women in M/M who write M/M because the words they’re required to use for female body parts give them anxiety. And that shit right there is why. (Epiphany Achievement: Unlocked! Angels sang on high, heavenly light streamed onto my phone. Aaaaaand, it only took me seven years to level up. O.O)

Her: Female body parts are the reason I read a lot of M/M.

Me: It’s hard. All the words you have to use are also terrible terrible insults. There are no sex-positive words for that area. Except clit. I’m quite fond of clit. Probably because I’ve never heard some random douche yelling it out in anger.

 

So today I was thinking about how hard it is to be a female reader/writer of erotic romance. You literally have to split your psyche in two in order to enjoy it. You have to pretend that the part of you who knows that “cunt” is considered one of the worst insults you can hurl at a person does not exist. Otherwise you associate that word in your book with violence and then it becomes an unsafe space. You have to pretend that you don’t know men often refer to “pussy” as a completely separate and inanimate thing (Comedians talking about “old pussy” and “new pussy” and the lengths they have go to in order to “get pussy,” for example), as if there’s no living, breathing person attached. Otherwise you start thinking about objectification and rape culture and the book ceases to become a safe space.

If any space should be safe, it’s a love story. But there aren’t a lot of words that describe your body and are not simultaneously derogatory. So you split yourself in two, or you switch over to books that don’t feature women having sex at all, or you drop the ero from your romance and read books that don’t use graphic language, even if you like graphic language.

And that whole situation fucking sucks.

Realizing that, I apologize for my foul attitude back in the day. I don’t think anyone noticed it, because I make a point of being polite (note: polite does not mean nice and in NO WAY equals kind), but I am sorry for raging at my screen without trying to understand. I know it seems like I’ve been apologizing a lot lately, but eff it. People should apologize more often because genuine apologies clear the air enough to let honest discussion take place. And honest discussion is good.

Plus it might lead to words for female body parts that aren’t triggering, and that would be fantastic because both the parts and the whole are fucking awesome.

So if you’d like to continue the discussion, please do so in the comments below. Trolls and disrespectful comments will be deleted, however, because this is my safe space and I can totally do that.

One Response to “Body Language”

  1. I have a difficult time with some of these terms, too, especially since they are interchanged for misogynistic insults aimed at both women and men (c*nt = bitch when a woman dares to act strong, p*ssy = wimp when a man acts weak and therefore is equated to being the “weaker sex”, etc. Yet it’s a “compliment” to tell a man or woman s/he has balls?) It almost makes me want to resort to good old purple prose. I kind of like leaf! 😀

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