It’s Only Words … Or is it?

This post contains words that may offend you. You’re an adult, proceed as you will.

I’m a lover of words—lyrics in songs, words in books, spoken word. I play word games, wince when someone mispronounces a word or uses an incorrect one, and I correct people’s grammar when they speak. In a word, I’m a snob. That doesn’t mean, however, I only use “polite and proper words.”

Words are fun for me. It’s a challenge to use the perfect words economically in any written piece. I write not to be misunderstood, rather than to be understood. There is a difference—subtle as it may be. As a writer of erotica, this is further complicated as sexuality has always been a taboo topic–one that can repulse, fascinate, and arouse. There are thousands of sex-related phrases and words in the English language ranging from the polite and poetic to the explicit and offensive. I’ll muse on a few points.

Are “bad” words always going to be bad words?
No, not according to history.

In 1966, the pioneer “bad boy of words,” comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested for saying nine words: ass, balls, cocksucker, cunt, fuck, motherfucker, piss, shit, tits.  In the seventies, comedian George Carlin had a whole routine based on “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.”  They were the last seven words in the list used by Lenny Bruce. Now, you can turn on the TV and listen to the radio at almost any time of day and hear these words. Depending on its context, you’ll either laugh, be turned on, or be offended.

Words are organic. They grow with the times and take on new meaning. Today, words like cocksucker, fuck, shit are commonplace in literature of almost every genre. Have we become immoral beings who’ve allowed these “bad” words to infiltrate the language? I don’t think so. I think it’s a combination of things which could include a more tolerant society and the fact that overuse of some of these words have weakened their impact.

Lenny Bruce arrested after saying the nine “bad” words.

How do words take on their meanings? 
We give power to them based on our own experiences. 

I love the word cunt and use it in my writing. I consider it a beautiful descriptor for the female genitalia. Put it in a different context, and it becomes the most offensive of epithets. The same word elicits both sensuality and vulgarity? How does that happen? It’s clearly not the word, but the volition or intent behind the writer or speaker or listener that affords the word its power … which brings me to the other “c” word that’s a hot topic currently—censorship.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the controversy surrounding the online payment company Paypal. It’s forcing online publishers such as Smashwords to remove all content containing bestiality, rape, and incest under the threat of withdrawing their service. Erotica writers were targeted. I received a letter from Smashwords saying if I had such content, I’d have to remove my book from their site.  Though I don’t write on these topics, the issues are far reaching and do not just affect erotica authors, even if we are the ones singled out at the moment. Think about it, if they were self-publishing today, others who would’ve been censored by Paypal’s decision would include: Vladamir Nabokov, Brett Easton Ellis, the Marquis de Sade, and whoever wrote the Bible.

Shame on you, Paypal. You are a third-party financial institution. You’re not my mother or my moral conscience. Don’t tell me what I can or cannot read, or what I can or cannot write. I can make that decision for myself, thank you very much.

I’m an atheist. Would it be okay if I banned the bible?

Update: Less than 24 hours after I posted this, Paypal has announced they are reversing their position. Maybe they heard me ranting?

Can similar words be used interchangeably and mean the same thing?
Yes, but they won’t feel the same.

Take the male genitalia, as an example. I’m convinced there are more words for this body part than for any other word in the English language. As my writing has matured, I rarely use anything other than cock. It’s the one that feels most natural, rolls off the tongue easily (I also love double entendres), and is invisible within the context of a story. The last thing you want to do is draw your reader’s attention away from the narrative’s eroticism by using words like: crotch cobra, fuckpole, crack hunter, swizzle stick, etc. All are metaphorically viable, but erotic? I don’t think so.

You KNOW this isn’t the cock I was referring to.

There are fewer words to describe the female genitalia, but my preference is pussy or cunt. As with cock, there are any number of ridiculous synonyms for it, but I prefer to use adjectives to describe a woman’s pussy such as soft, hairy, shaven, etc.

Recently, I was on a trip with my best friend celebrating our birthdays. We went to Niagara-on-the Lake, wine country, and stayed at a lovely inn. We took pictures of everything in sight. She even insisted I take a picture with my pussy—as she called it. Though I was reluctant, I figured no one would mind. Thankfully the room was empty at the time, so I kneeled down, took a hold of my pussy and she snapped the photo.

Hope you like it.

eden

Me and my wild pussy.

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42 Comments

Filed under Craft of Writing, Revelations & Humor

42 responses to “It’s Only Words … Or is it?

  1. That is an excellent pussy you have. Even better post.

    Like

  2. Lance

    When I was a sophomore in college, as part of my contemporary litertature course (I was a communications major, with a double minor in english and history), I was introduced to Henry Miller, William Burroughs, The Beat Poets, and several other “controversial” writers. Some of their books were banned from the university of Alabama library so I had to go to an off-campus bookstore or borrow them from others. I found it humorous that some of the literature was banned. The first thing I’d consider “erotica” that I’ve ever read was Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Please take this as a compliment, Eden, LCL is minor league, in terms of content, to you Fall into Winter.

    My favroite comedians are Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Sam KInison and Bill Hicks. I don;t like them because they cursed, I liked them because they thought and begged others to think.

    My 16-year-old daughter has expressed journalism and photography as possible lines of work she’d like to explore after high school. So, eventually she’ll be exposed to the sames books and pictures I was. I looke forward to watching mind expand and those artistic offerings not make her rob liquor stores. Good for you tacking this.

    the ironic thing is, I don’t curse in my real life. In you met me, you find it hilarious that I don’t. Those words coming out of my mouth just sound stupid with my personality. One day, when Helene Troy gets published. I’m iring you or Marian or someone who can throw down those words with ease to read the audio book.

    Good post. You have an impressive pussy.

    Like

    • Agree, Lance. It’s not the cursing that shocks as these words without substance around them is meaningless. Bad comedians or people who don’t have a strong command of the language swear a lot as mere fillers — there is no added value by using them.

      Lenny Bruce paved the way for many of the comics you refer to because he was forward thinking, thought provoking. He used language to illustrate the emotional attachment we have to words. We attribute power to them based on our own judgments. He was arrested for using the word “cocksucker” because it was deemed a vernacular for a “favorite homosexual practice.” It was homosexuality, not the word that was considered obscene. And yet, in the haste to sanitize and censor what is deemed offensive—words were added to the taboo list.

      Like you, I rarely curse in real life. There are plenty of other words to express anger, fear, and excitement, but I must admit, every once in a while – the only word that will give me satisfaction when I want to rip someone’s throat out is “Fuck.” It seems to get to the core of the matter.

      Glad you liked my pussy 😉 and thanks for commenting.
      eden

      Like

  3. How very interesting! Firstly, because I agree with you. Whilst I don’t read and you don’t write literature that contains bestiality etc., the very important point you make is about censorship; where should it be applied and where not. Given that PayPal is a commercial enterprise, which should be able to be in control of its own destiny, provided it is both legal and ethical, it should also be allowed to control the means it choses to achieve its mission. On the one hand, it does seem to be a little self-righteous for them to make this decision; on the other hand – and this is the most worthy of ethical debate – the immediate effect of restricting the ability of those who wish to access such material, apart from impacting sales of it, is that it is the thin end of a wedge that could escalate into far greater and more far reaching controls on ‘freedom of press’. In the medium term, probably in the short term, other ways to pay will evolve – the essence of competition – and PayPal will do a few less trades, the cost of which I’m sure their accountants will have already calculated!

    I do feel however, that this is clearly a provocative move – motivated by what or whom is uncertain – one which the company is legally entitled to make, but I’m sure that, potentially, it might be the thin end of a wedge that could lead to greater intolerance and censorship. Your point is well made.

    Secondly… I think you have answered at least one editorial point recently made about the use of a particular descriptive word. I take my hat off to you, M’am.

    😉

    Like

    • Hi John,
      As a former banker, here’s my take on what Paypal wants to do, and why I feel they’re sticking their nose where it does not belong. They have a monopoly on the market as an e-commerce site. They have clout, and they’re using it to bully the clients they’ve deemed as purveyors of (ahem) unsuitable material.

      When it comes to breaking the law, I agree there must be methods in place to stop illegal money transactions. As an example, take money laundering – no reputable financial institution wants to be complicit in any criminal activity. In Canada, anyway, there are strict procedures to follow when amounts of $10K cash or more are brought in for deposit. In essence, a money trail must be established. It is further vetted behind the scenes to ensure it’s not proceeds of illegal activity. If it is, it’s reported to the police and the funds are seized.

      Paypal’s position in the whole money transaction is one step further removed. Authors only deal with them because our publisher does. We get paid via Paypal. If anyone is going to have objection to my writing – it should be the publisher. Smashwords has put standards around what must be declared for adult books, such as the age limit of readers and a brief description of the book. Beyond that, you can read the sample pages. They’ve done their due diligence for quality, but they didn’t censor the content.

      I’d go so far as to say that the ‘horror’ genre has as much “objectionable” material in their books as some erotica writers, and yet it’s only erotica writers who are targeted – for now.

      The “for now” is the slippery slope of the unknown. Erotica is a legitimate genre of fiction. If readers don’t want to read it – it’s simple – don’t buy the book. What I object to is a third-party sterilizing my choices for reading material. I find this completely offensive – as bad as some groups, who in the name of “doing good” have banned certain books from the school system like Huckleberry Finn because the word nigger was used in it. Worst yet, some of the reprints have been done with the word removed from the original text altogether.

      This is censorship through and through. Sanitation. Big Brother.

      We cannot recreate history, and trying to quash free speech, freedom of the press, freedom to write creatively leads to quashing freedom of expression.

      Damn! You always make me rant!
      eden

      Like

  4. Great post, Eden.

    I’ve always admired you for your out-spoken attitude and take-no-nonsense approach when it comes to writing. I agree with what you said about censorship – writers have the right to choose what to write, and readers what to read – that’s what I call freedom of speech 🙂

    Like

  5. Fantastic post..I think some words have lost the shock and OMG since people have gotten use to using them so much. They don’t have the impact as they use to. Love your wild pussy…

    Like

    • Thanks Savannah for your comment. Yes, shock value is long gone, I think. We are inundated with so much swearing on reality TV. I think it’s why I hate watching TV these days – it really seems to cater to the lowest common denominator.

      I knew you’d like my wild pussy! hehe 😉

      eden

      Like

  6. Great pussy pic 😉

    I happen to dislike “cunt” in most instances. When other people use it in erotica, sometimes it works for me, but not all the time. I choose not to use it for the most part. But that’s just me.

    Also, you may already know, but PayPal is expected to release revised terms very soon, and Smashwords has reverted to pre-February 24th TOS. I’m still waiting to see PayPal’s terms before i celebrate fully, though.

    Great post!

    Like

    • Hi honey! Thanks for your comment. Yes, using “cunt” is a choice, and I respect your choice not to use it. I also believe words have vibrations associated with them, and pussy is definitely a softer word. It’s less harsh in both sound, and image.

      I’ve been following Smashwords’ take on this, and feel Mark Coker has been quite diligent with it. He’s earned my respect in how he’s tried to tackle a difficult situation.

      There’s been a lot of push back, petitions, protests — I’m sure this made Paypal rethink their initial stance.

      We shall see. 😉
      eden

      Like

  7. Excellent post, as always, Eden – and a good reminder for us all 😉 (PS – I love your wild pussy!!)

    Like

  8. justinbog

    There is little I can add to the conversation beyond what has already been so greatly pointed out by the other great comments here . . . censorship based on subject matter: Paypal knows not what it does. George Carlin was an influence, and someone else mentioned the Beat writers: Wow. Writing without a filter. What was fun about reading this post from an iPhone was the constriction of the words as I read and scrolled new words up from the bottom, and tantalizing moments, laughing out loud when the photo of the rootin’-tootin’ rooster filled the tiny screen, and roaring as I hesitated (yes, I really did, and I’m not a choirboy) before scrolling to the last gratuitous shot of your gilded, muscular, wild, captured in pose, but never tameable, pussy.

    A very wonderful post, eden. ~wipes perspiring forehead~

    Like

    • Hehe, oh Justin. You do make me laugh! Thanks so much for reading my lengthy post on your iPhone. I’m not sure how anyone can do that.

      And how did you know my pussy was hard to tame? 😉
      eden

      Like

  9. A great post Eden! And I love your wild pussy! You both look great in that photo.

    Like

  10. Mae

    You’ve got a great way with words. You also seem to have a great handle on your pussy!!

    Like

  11. I would be hard pressed to add to the already superlative commentary here on the subject of censorship. But, will add: No writer, no matter what their subject, should ever be constrained from expressing themselves by a monopoly of morality.

    Here are three great quotes, which address the topic of censorship, much better than I:

    As to the evil which results from a censorship, it is impossible to measure it, for it is impossible to tell where it ends.
    Jeremy Bentham

    Censorship always defeats it own purpose, for it creates in the end the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.
    Henry Steele Commager

    Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads.
    George Bernard Shaw

    Excellent essay, eden—on a topic very near and dear to this fellow writer—and to anyone who believes in free, and open speech, no matter whether it is spoken or published.

    PS I never heard my ‘Fred’ described that way, so laughed ‘literary’ out-loud when I read, “crack hunter” here. 😉

    Like

    • Jeff, those are excellent quotes. Thanks for sharing them.
      I’ve never heard of your ‘Fred’ being referred to as ‘Fred’!

      Crack hunter is definitely NOT on my list of phrases to use!
      Thanks for your lovely comment xoxo
      eden

      Like

  12. No way that picture was taken ‘with’ your pussy. I know cause I took one ‘with’ my dick once and alls i got was my feet.

    Nice cat by the way.

    Like

  13. JJ, LOL, you’re insane!
    eden

    Like

  14. Bravo, Eden! Well said!

    I find myself wondering, about the PayPal story, if they’ve been pressured by the ignorance and intolerance of the Tea Party and the religious right.

    As to curse words, I use them in moderation, and think with a character that if it fits the vernacular, it’s fine. Some comedians-like Carlin- can use them to excess, and it’s no problem, but often you see standups who are using them excessively, because they’re trying to be like Carlin… and just showing how mediocre they are instead.

    And that is a cute pussy!

    Like

    • Hi William!
      Haha, good one about the Tea Party, though Paypay’s headquarters are out of California, and that’s not known to be a red state, is it?
      Truth is, they are a worldwide enterprise, and the decision has been reversed…for now, so that’s good.

      I’m with you on cursing – it needs to fit with the story, otherwise writing or saying it does not add anything.

      Glad you liked my pussy! Ha!

      eden

      Like

  15. Love your wild pussy, Eden. Can I pet it? 😉

    xoxox

    max

    Like

  16. Somehow I completely missed this post and then choked on my beer when I got to your pussy. Just the right size but maybe a bit more hair (fur).

    I’m not big on using words that offend others– even when I write, but some word just fit the scene. You’re so right about the way our language changed over the years and our attitudes towards words. If words offend you then stop reading, if they give meaning to the text then enjoy.

    Sorry I’m late in responding , sweet Eden. This is a great post!

    Like

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  22. I think it’s true that it’s not words that are offensive, only the intentions behind them. Tune into the television coverage of the British Parliament and you’ll soon find that out, particularly during Prime Minister’s Questions. It’s amazing how David Cameron can make “The Right Honourable Gentleman” sound like “clueless twat”
    As for the word “cunt”, if it was good enough for Chaucer, it’s good enough for anyone else. He used it in “The Miller’s Tale”. Although, as you point out, words evolve and the word he used back then was “quaint” rather than cunt. Which is an amusing thought when you consider all those conservative non-swearers who talk about the “quaint little antique shops” they enjoy visiting so much.
    You were right, I did enjoy that post. Clever ending. You almost had me going there. Almost.

    Mike

    Like

    • Oh god, Mike,

      “Clueless twat” << priceless.
      I did not know that about Chaucer's 'quaint.' That word will now have new meaning for me when I say it 😉
      Thanks for the comment, lovely,

      eden

      Like

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