Monday, October 28, 2013

People Swear About What They Care About

Melissa Mohr:

• In English, we don't really have a swearword for the clitoris. There's clit, but it's just not that offensive, and it is rarely used. If you call someone a clit, you'll probably get puzzled laughter, or even a pitying look. Perhaps English-speaking women should be insulted that clitface and clit for brains are more funny than shocking, that the clitoris doesn't register high enough in the cultural consciousness to deserve its own swearword.

• The verb irrumare involves pretty much the only other orifice available — it means "to penetrate the mouth." Irrumo is a bit different from the other verbs because, as we've seen, it usually carries a threat of violence. You might do it for pleasure, but part of that pleasure would be in humiliating the man you are forcing into fellatio.

...The poet Catullus assails some of his critics with irrumo too. Catullus was accused of effeminacy because he wrote about dalliances with women, the delights of long afternoons spent in bed, rather than about war or farming like the more manly Virgil. He asserts his impugned masculinity with a verbal attack, beginning one poem: Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo, "I will bugger you and make you suck me." Threatening to stick his penis into the assholes and mouths of other men is supposed to prove that he is a real man. Displaying too much interest in sex with women, in contrast, is what got him accused of effeminacy in the first place.

Those are just a couple excerpts, but I could have picked any number of others. It's a very entertaining and informative book. You should read it.