Saturday, September 13, 2008

So - What IS an alternative?

It’s a Friday, I didn’t have that much to do and didn’t feel like working, so I was being a bad worker bee earlier and doing a bit of blog hopping. I was reading AztecLady’s review of a book wherein she says how much she dislikes the c***t word in a romance. And it got me thinking - not about work but about something else.

I know this word and the male c***k version bothers a lot of readers. I admit it can pull me out of a story too sometimes. If I see these while reading along in a historical, it just jars. But along the same path, if I’m reading along in a harder edged Paranormal or Romantic Suspense and I come along the euphemistic love channel or pot ‘o honey and//or manhood, root of pleasure or any of those descriptions that make us roll our eyes or chuckle in horror, that’s almost worse.

While there is a number of less the purple prose type words we can call the male lurve tool, there just aren’t as many for female’s pleasure chest. Think about it – how many words are there really.

While Sex and the City and The Vagina Monologue have made it possible to stand and proudly declare “I have a Vagina and I’m Proud of it!” First off, it’s too long a word with too many syllables; the word doesn’t really work to well in a romance and it’s a bit too clinical and Grade 7 health class sounding. I just can’t imagine an alpha hero whispering heatedly into the heroines ears “I want to put my penis in your vagina – now!” Whereas if it’s a more earthy kind of book it just seems to work better if the same alpha hero whispers gutturally “I need to fill your c***t with my c#*#k – Now!”

See – one works much better than the other. And keep in mind that not so very long ago I was a reader of kisses only books and my sisters thought I was the prude of the family.

But for many readers if that one doesn’t work, what else could one use?

Pussy. I don’t know about others but that one doesn’t work for me well at all. I remember a particular Laura Kinsale book where the hero is trying to get the heroine to issue a certain phrase. Finally she does – ‘will you please pet my pussy’? That pulled me so out of the story I remember it years later – My Sweet Folly. So that word is out for me. I can’t help but think cat.

What other ones do we have?

Twat: Shudder

Beaver: I’m Canadian – that’s just wrong

Snatch: Uuggg

Box: Ah, no!

Loins: I just noticed an email in my junk folder with an offer to set her loins on fire. But that is a bit vague I think. In addition, it’s not a mutually exclusive term – it’s a more gender neutral kind of term.

Hoohaw: I think that might be a local term we women just use amongst ourselves – can’t really see a surly damaged alpha hero using that expression.

I’m sure there are many other terms and or expression but I can’t really think of any that readers all over the world will recognize for what they are.

So – if you are one of those who are bothered by this term in a contemporary or RS, what term/word do you think would make a good substitute?


Holly said...

Ha! You crack me up. Especially the "Beaver- I'm Canadian" comment. hahaha

I really think it depends on the author/story/context for me. C**t doesn't really bother me in an erotica or Romantica, but in a historical? I'm totally put off by it.

Pussy bother me, and yet it doesn't. If a woman says it..well, that bothers me. If it's the hero, there's something kind of sexy and good dirty about it, but when she says it? Eh.

Otherwise..I can't think of anything. Not off the top of my head. You're right that there are a limited number of substitutions and Penis and Vagina don't really work.

little alys said...

Hahaha, this is hilarious yet true. I don't like a lot of the words used in romance/erotica, but I've come to realize that a great writer can someone incorporate words and make it acceptable without pulling me away from the sorry at all.
Would write more, but am completely exhausted.

pidute said...

arf-arf that's a good post!

me i absolutely hate "creamy juice" .i am french ! we put cream in everything ,that disgusting .
Feehan love cream *shudder*

for pussy ,really it depend of the story ,in a historical that's a no-no but in a contemporary like mckenna that's ok .

i went on a Kleypas binge lately and I think she is a master of love scenes ,they flow very well .

jessewave said...

Loved this post *g*. I don't have any suggestions because you've already discarded my favourites but being Canadian I get the "Beaver" concern :).

I agree that the words we use today to refer to the vagina would not work in historicals but the only hystericals I read are of the gay variety so no worries for me there. Like everything else it's a matter of taste - I don't have any objections to the words used to describe "vagina" which is too long and clinical but a lot of women find the "c" word offensive. I guess it's what floats your boat and until they come up with something better c..t, pussy or whatever, works just as well. Similarly, I love cock, prick etc., hate "penis" if it's used in an intimate moment. I have certainly never used it in that context - too clinical.

Well that's my two cents but the post really made me laugh *g*

Jace said...

I couldn't help but LOL at this. I don't have any alternatives to suggest, but if I happen to have a lightbulb moment later, I'll let you know. :-D

LorelieLong said...

Personally, I don't automatically dislike any word in an historical. Cunt came into use around 1325, and cock around the early 1600s so to assume no one used them is implausible. It depends on the character for me. Sheltered debutant? Shouldn't come out of her mouth or even be in her thoughts. Rough and tumble captain of mining industry? Yeah, I'll believe it.

To add to the words *not* to use I'd like to use "hoo-ha." It was in a Cherry Adair book, a contemporary romantic suspense. To this day my husband makes fun of me for my rather violent reaction. The book learned how to fly.

AnimeJune said...

I find the c-word more off-putting than pussy. I read "Mortal Love" by Elizabeth Hand, where they used the c-word and it just threw me right out.

I remember hearing comedian Robin Williams discuss his favourite and least favourite swear words - he said his least favourite was the c-word because it was harsh and cold and clinical - but pussy was his favourite because it suggested warmth and silliness.

Yes, he's a dude, but I found I agreed.

Dev said...

Hate the c**t word. I don't really care what genre, I just hate it. Pussy is okay, I guess. Quite honestly, I don't really need any dialogue at all when the h/h are hitting the sheets. I don't. It does nothing for me, and sometimes I actually skim it anyway.

C**k doesn't really bother me, I guess. Maybe Pr**k is a tad better, or maybe it's a tad worse??

I tried to read Cheryl Holt once. I got to the point where I didn't read the story anymore, I just counted how many times she used c**k and pr**k per page.

Carolyn Jean said...

This is a great post, and an issue I sort of struggle with, as a writer and reader. I'll use pussy and cleft, though I have a bit of a hard time with c**t, unless it's in character for somebody to say it in a sort of mean way. I know people get around it by describing it's attributes instead of naming it: silky wetness. Folds of.... I've been really tempted to use hole.

Wendy said...

I'm with Lorelie - it's all about context with me. I think that dialogue is an extension of the character. I need it all to sound believable - not just during love scenes.

This is actually one of my huge pet peeves. The author writes a bad ass, kick butt hero and during the love scenes he morphs into a poetry-spouting Care Bear. Um, yeah - no thanks. Or the big, bad Army Ranger who says "fiddle-sticks" instead of "f*ck." Um, yeah - no thanks.

MaryKate said...

Hi Kristie - I love this post! I'm much more drawn out of the story by clinical terms. I remember reading a story that had a mention of the "pudenda" in it. Whoa. That'll pull me right out. What are we in biology class?

Other than that, I'm much more turned off by things like dripping and cream, etc. than terms like cock or c*nt.

Tracy said...

LOL - Kristie you're too funny. Great post!

I'm not a fan of C**t or Pussy but it works in the book for those particular characters I'm ok with it. I don't really dig it for my historicals - if I see those it definitely throws me and I have to stop for a minute or two and say wtf?! lol

Katiebabs said...

Thank god I put down my coffee before reading this post!! Kristie, you crack me up!!
I hate HATE the "C" word a woman's hoo ha. I cringe every time I read it. But that is just my virginal morals acting up :P
But I don't mind the word cock for the guy's penis.
And sometimes the nicknames for body parts get ridiculous, especially for the woman such as her flower pot and what have you. Maybe we should hold a contest for best nickname for the woman's flower pot of lurve?

Brie said...

I'm not terribly turned off by C**t, but it is not sexy to me either.

I do really dislike the use of prick. I don't know why but it bothers the crap out of me. Something about prick pulls me right out of the story. I prefer good, old fashioned cock. ;p

LorelieLong said...

"Or the big, bad Army Ranger who says "fiddle-sticks" instead of "f*ck." Um, yeah - no thanks"

Ha! I'm sooo with you. If the publishing line doesn't support the use of the actual word (very rare these days) or if the *author* isn't comfy with it, I'd rather see "He cursed foully under his breath" or something.

Tara Janzen's books feature very manly men who really cuss when the occasion calls for it -- except they say/think "Geezus" instead of "Jesus". Totally strange to me and jerks me right out.

azteclady said...

Okay, Holly said it much better than me--at least for pussy :grin:

See, I can't buy a woman thinking of herself as "horny as a bitch in heat"

Worse, I just cannot read that and think it's sexy.

Yes, erotic romances are not going to be full of euphemisms, but c'mon!

Bev(QB) said...

I'm with CJ, I prefer cleft, but depending on the story, I don't stop dead in my tracks if I run across pussy or c*nt (or cunny) either.

Actually I prefer not naming it at all, i.e. he pounded his cock/prick/shaft inside her. See? gets the point across but doesn't specifically name the girly part.

And I'm a LOT more tolerant of names, including purple prose, in historicals, so he can "part her velvet petals with his mighty love rod." But beware the laughter if you attempt a phrase like that in a contemporary setting!

Yes, if you are Bertrice Small, you can call teh buttsecks "breaching her Portal of Sodom", but in a contemp, unless it's a pr0n version of The Billionaire Shiek's Secret Sex Slave, you better call it f*cking her in the ass!

Kristie (J) said...

LOL - I was laughing to myself when I was writing this - it had to be to myself 'cause I wrote it at work and I didn't want to explain to anyone who might have overheard me why I was laughing, but in a way all these comments have kind of helped prove the point.

What word CAN an author use that won't offend some or take someone out of the story?

Holly: since the Beaver is out national symbol - you can see the problem with the word beaver in another conotation - heh heh
LA: A lot of it context too isn't it?

Pidute: Laughing - yea the cream thing is yucky but when you use it in food - I get you.

Jessewave: *g* I guess it wouldn't be an issue in they historicals you read then would it *chuckle*

Jace: see!! there just aren't really any are there?

Lorielong: *evil grin* does that mean you can see the rougher words coming out of the mouth of say a less than civilized at time mine owner?

Animejune: he's right in his quote, but in raw,passion filled love scene with an alpha seal type hero for example, do we want want warm and silliness? The c word would just work better - but it offends a lot of readers - thus a real author dilema!! *g*

Dev: *laughing* see - I'm the curious type. When I read that he's whispering passion filled words while in those most intimate moments - I want to know WHAT he's whispering.

CJ: Ahhh - I get what your saying. A description of rather than the actual word. Now that you mention it - that's done quite a bit isn't it?

Wendy: I think it's the publisher - like Harlequin that puts that kind of limitation on words and it does end up sounding silly doesn't it

MK: Pudenda????? Good grief what is that?? That would be hilarious having to use a dictionary to describe a woman's body parts!! which obviously the author must have done *laughing*

Tracy: *g* that is part of my point. As offensive as THAT word is to some *g* sometimes there just isn't the right alternative word that I can think of.

Katie: I'm glad you managed to save your computer - heh heh. And you've given me a thought.

Brie: I think for me the word prick doesn't work at all well for the male part *chuckle* because it's a word much better used to describe as a real super jerk as in 'he was a real prick in the way he treated people'. And again because there are a lot more words to describe men's John Thomases

Lorielong - :) actually in Tara Janzen's books I like that they use geezus better. It gets the point across that they are upset or emotional about something without actually cursing cause for me, using Jesus as a curse is extremely offensive. That takes me out of a story more than a hundred c**ts would anyday.

AL: ROTFL - dare I say I think of myself in that term you don't like without giving away TMI? *still laughing*

Kristie (J) said...

Bev: *laughing while snorting* but WHY do men get a name for their jolly roger but women don't? Where's the equalization of the sexes?

Stacy~ said...

Wow, what a topic LOL. I guess I've been reading erotic romance so long that cock & c**t don't really bother me as much anymore, though I prefer the word pussy because so many times c**t is used as in derogatory terms for a woman, and I can't stand that. I don't mind it if the hero is saying it while he's having sex with the heroine, I like the dirty talk.

I hate the clinical terms, and I hate "cream" or instead of pussy the word "hole" is used. It just icks me out. Eww. Oh, and I don't like the Indian terms like lingham and whatever they call the vagina. Can't think of it right now, but it totally throws me out of the story.

Bev(QB) said...

"WHY do men get a name for their jolly roger but women don't?"

Answer 1: Because it's right out there for all to see, whereas a woman's is mostly internal and therefore mysterious. The lack of names adds to the mystery.

Answer 2: Cuz they consider it to be a sentient being-- albeit one without conscience.

"Where's the equalization of the sexes?"
I'll pass on that particular bit of equality. WE don't blame our va-jay-jays, but THEY need someone to blame, hence Answer #2 above, which is also the reason they give them proper names like Willie and Bob.

Wendy said...

I think I'd take pussy over c**t because I just hate that word. I hate both but I agree that vagina isn't that romantic. What a conundrum.

Beaver?! Oh no..

LorelieLong said...

Um, well yes, I do admit I was referencing my current project. . . though now I find myself totally unable to remember when/where I mentioned it to you. lol

Lori said...

Too funny... I did a post on this, too, a year or so ago. I agree. I hate that "c" word. It's a personal thing for me. But it is tough to use the anatomical terms. Not terribly romantic, is it? Ooh, baby, I love your penis. Your vagina is sooo hot! LOL!! It just doesn't work for me. Dick is a good word. I like that one.