thinky thoughts

in response to a fb friend posting this Sheila Jeffreys’ quote from Unpacking Queer Politics: “”[Queer theorists] show no awareness of the insights of feminist writers over thirty years that suggest that it is men’s desires and ideologies, particularly complete obsession with the penis as the fulcrum of sex, that have structured how women are to do sex, and how they are always to experience a lack of the real equipment.”

I added: This is something that has been in my thoughts a lot lately: the fact that there is so little language to even name sexual activities that are female and/or clitorally centred. I just found out, close to a decade after first reading the word in The Hite Report, that, technically, tribadism means a woman rubbing her vulva against any part of a male or female partner, but in most uses, is used synonymously with two women rubbing vulvas together (altho in practice, those “positions” are usually vulva-to-thigh, but i digress). Men, gay, straight, and bi, have such a wider vocabulary to describe what happens to them, for them, by them, etc during sex. As defined by men, sex is what a man does with his dick. Even names for non-intercourse (anal or vaginal) sexual acts reflect this. Men have specific terms for rubbing their dick against specific body parts, for example. Do we? I doubt it. I remember reading a critique of Marilyn Frye’s essay on lesbian sex (eg what is sex, do lesbians have it, etc) because Frye claims we do lack this vocab to describe female, specifically lesbian, experience. The critiquer stated that working class and of colour women do have said vocab and robust language, but simply stated that, and didn’t let this welfare-poor white young woman in on it. I was thinking: if we do have it available, why are you keeping it from us? tell me!

Published in: on February 25, 2010 at 6:09 pm  Comments (2)  

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  1. Maybe you’re hanging out with people who don’t utilize the language of desire in robust ways. Not sure if you’re an academic, as I just got here…but I find that even being in academia among mostly the children of the middle-class can do a nip and tuck on expression, emotions and identity. They get so uncomfortable, so easily. I find that people tend to scale themselves back in order to not upset them or make them anxious. Please feel free to come visit me if you’d like to trade linguistics. I like to cuss while discussing things related to the lefty political and even sometimes sexual.😉

    • hey darkdaughta! thanks for the comment.

      i think wimmin in general lack in vocab around sexuality that is centred around them, and i’m really glad that you’re finding that “robust” language🙂 and i hope you share it with others, both in person and on your blog.

      i used to be in the academic scene. (haven’t graduated yet tho, i’m just not in classes) and it is so puerile and stupid and time consuming. And a ridiculous, classist amount of money.

      Yes, there tends to be a disavowal of “low-down” language (eg jane caputi’s cuntspeak) in favour of “brain” language (read white male language), to the point of reaching for the phallic imaginary even for women when trying for more bodily language (rather than a vulva/clitoris/uterus/etc centred language). I also find such a surface reach in understanding and expressing emotions and identity, eg assumptions, exclusive language, obfuscating to the point of being intelligible

      I’ve checked out your blog a while ago, but hope to again (gotta run after this comment) soon.😉


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