"Hey, babe, talk dirty to me!"

Fuck yeah! Naughty words have a sexual power all their own, and it's fucking puzzling why that should be so. They are, after all, only words, symbolic scribbles on a page or collections of sounds that, by common consent, mean something. Yet people have been fired, fined, and fucked over for uttering them. What gives?

The easy answer is that dirty words refer to sexual (and excretory) subjects. Though "fellatio" and "cocksucking" both refer to pole-smoking, one is "dirty," the other's not. Is it bluntness, then, that makes a word unspeakable? Maybe not - "crap" and "shit" are equally abrupt, but one is "printable" where the other's not.

Clearly, cultural tradition plays a big part. Take the word "fanny," for instance. Over in America it's just a cute word for the rump; while here a much ruder word for the female genitalia. And the French baiser, which literally means " to kiss," is common slang for "to screw," so be careful trotting out your GCSE French on your next trip to Gay Paree. Watch your fanny. Or not.

Interestingly, taboo words are often unmoored from their literal meanings but forbidden nonetheless. "That guy is a fucking idiot" rarely means that the fellow in question is ignorant about intercourse, and "Don't give me that shit" has little to do with unpleasant Christmas presents. Most interesting of all is the history of "bloody." A mere century ago, the word was so obscene that it was unspeakable in polite society. "Polite" is the operative word here. The Oxford English Dictionary (second edition) notes it was " constantly in the mouths of the lowest classes, but by respectable people considered a horrid word." Clearly, crass has to do with class - heaven forbid we should use the slang of the earthy peasants!

Even the class angle is tricky, though. Distinctly high-toned magazines and literary journals regularly print words in full that daily newspapers censor through the use of dashes or even ! or *. (So perhaps censorship has now become the tool of the supposedly less-educated, less-liberal lower classes.) And speaking of those dashes, isn't it odd that omitting some of the letters in words like "f--k" should be somehow acceptable, when it's f---ing obvious what's being said? It's almost as if the squiggles of letters themselves are deemed to have malevolent magic power. Perversely, it's partly the banning that gives banned words their transgressive power. "Bloody," after all, is now widely used as a mild swear word, nothing more.

And what does all this have to do with hard dicks and throbbing assholes? Well, clearly, even in this enlightened age, dirty words retain power, and dirty talk is part of many a guy's bedroom repertoire. It need not be balls-out verbal abuse; just murmuring a nasty word at the right time can sure spice things up. "When I'm with a bottom," says one obscenity enthusiast, "I love to call his butthole a 'cunt.' Not only does it play with gender - and use a really, really forbidden word - it also sexualizes his hole like no other word I know."

Clearly, some guys would object to the c-word during sex, while others will lap it up. As with many another edgy move, initiating the use of dirty words can be a matter of feedback. Say something naughty and wait for a response. If it's enthusiastic ("Oh, yeah. Fuck that cunt!"), then charge ahead, upping the ante. If your sex buddy is perceptibly cold, then it's back to vanilla chitchat ("Any chance of putting it in there?") .

After all, even fucking without fuck-words can be fucking great, no?

Simon Sheppard
Kinkorama - Order Here

In Simon's latest book Kinkorama: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Perversion he chronicles a first-person exploration of extreme sex from glory holes and three-ways to stronger scenes like S/M play and leather contests. Simon focuses a clear eye on what makes us squirm, sweat, and shiver, revealing a host of sometimes shocking, often hilarious, but always arousing scenarios of all kinds of gay sex. The book is available direct from Amazon. For an OutUK interview with Simon click here. Simon is the co-editor of Rough Stuff: Tales of Gay Men, Sex, and Power and editor of Hotter Than Hell. You can e-mail him at OutUK.


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