Guest blog: Can you write about sex without using negative words?

Pic by the awesome Stuart F Taylor

Over on my guest blog page, I’ve long had an open call for blog posts that feature ‘eloquent disagreement/rebuttal of any of my own strong and angry opinions.’ Very few people ever pitch me guest blogs that involve them disagreeing with me, though: I can only assume I’m either far too scary or pretty-much-always right. So when @pervy_thoughts – who has written an excellent guest blog here before on being a nudist – dropped into my inbox to disagree with my thoughts on the word ‘filthy’, I was delighted to read him approaching the topic from a different perspective. In my original post I argued that using ‘negative’ words like ‘filthy’ to describe sex isn’t just enjoyable, it’s inevitable, because wherever there is taboo there’ll be filthy perverts like me trying to kink that taboo until it becomes hot. Fred is here to advocate for an alternative: you can write about sex without using negative terms…

Can you write about sex without using negative words?

I have been thinking about the words that are used to describe sex. I was considering writing about my thoughts but I was procrastinating, drinking tea and wasting time on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, then GOTN wrote a blog post about the word ‘filthy’. I was going to post a reply on the blog but it turned into something more complex, not quite a PhD thesis (note to self, you should submit sometime soon) but more than a few lines and a smiley face emoji.

So I made a start at writing. Starting is the most difficult part of writing. I still drank the tea while I was writing, and I may have dunked a few digestives but mostly I was typing.

Quick aside: if a significant percentile of the population is indulging in a specific activity is it really a kink? Apparently 20% of us like a bit of spanking, which must make it a usual activity and thus not a kink?

Moving on, let’s get back to the lexicon.

Let’s take a look at some of the words that get used to describe sex.

Adult, bawdy, dirty, hard-core, filth, immoral, indecent, lascivious, lewd, obscene, offensive, porno, raunchy, rude, smutty, steamy…

I once had ‘steamy’ sex; it was in a steam room of a spa, the sex was exciting because we might have been caught! It was also hot and sweaty and made me a bit light headed. But mostly it was exciting and a bit naughty to be shagging in a public place.

While I was searching the interwebs for derogatory words used to describe sex I came across exactly the opposite of what I wanted: The Positive Thesaurus. If this did not exist then I would have had to invent it.

The thesaurus gives dozens of lovely words to describe sex.

Voluptuary, Salacious, Lubricious, Frivolous, Exquisite, Enchanting, Concupiscent (No I don’t know what it means either but it’s a brilliant word. Make this word of the week!), Coquettish, Brazen, Alluring.

I think brazen women are very alluring. See how easy it is?

The simple truth is we have been preconditioned by society to talk about sex in the wrong way with the wrong words.

I get the point that GOTN makes about the word ‘filthy’, it describes a particular type of blog post. If you see filthy in the description then it’s not going to be safe for work. It’s probably not safe anywhere unless you have absolute privacy. You have to be a regular reader of GOTN and in on the language and style of writing to get it.

When I was at boarding school in the 1960s the rather prim and proper school matron called masturbation ‘self abuse’. We called it wanking and it occupied most of our spare time! I think that was probably the start of my associating sex with derogatory words. It’s time for a change. The vast majority of us are having sex, doing sexy things and having a whale of a time doing it. So why not just be nice about it and use positive language to talk about it?

So here is the challenge: ditch all the derogatory words and only use the positive ones when talking about sex. If you need inspiration then hit up that thesaurus link. Sex bloggers you could make a real difference here by joining in.

So my opening comment should really have been: let’s talk sexy in a positive manner.


I was so taken by @Pervy_thoughts‘ list of alternative sex words that I’m going to have a go at a little challenge: can I write about sex using only positive words? In the long run, I’m sure I’ll still lean heavily on words that have a sheen of taboo – filthy, dirty, deviant, etc – but I like the idea of challenging myself to write something that doesn’t rely on that kink in order to make a sexy point. 


  • fuzzy says:

    I have for years tried to not use sex words, particularly those that relate to women, as derogatory indicators in my cussing. I love cunt, so I no longer call someone a cunt in a negative manner. I love pussy so I no longer use pussy to indicate someone lacking in some quality (I often use “wussy” though). I also try to not use phrases like “you have massive steel balls” to women. I somehow can’t give up the phrase “balls to the wall”, mostly because if you have balls and have ever tried to actually stand against a wall so that they’re pressed against it then you are in a weird and difficult to sustain position.

    Anyway an appreciated article even though I am absolutely positively kinkily triggered by words like “filthy” and “raunchy”. I can go from “sex? huh? ummm.” to “panting lusting swelling throbbing you got my full attention” in about 0.6 seconds if approached in such a manner.

  • Sadie says:

    I’d say whether words are seen as sex negative or positive is gendered quite often.

    Because trust me as a cis woman who was a sex worker, brazen is practically triggering in its negative associations for me. Usually accompanied by ‘hussy’ or ‘homewrecker’ and an example of how language around sex is more based traditionally in one person’s sexual act being valued and the other sexual participant being degraded by it or made to take someone’s shame.

    Words like filthy liberate me because they are equal. Everyone involved is enthusiastically consenting and not being blamed for anything. That’s sex positivity to me having always been shamed for being kinky and having sexual desires as a woman in a culture that punished that.

    I seek out sex writing that embraces a sex positive sentiment over one that avoids certain words but repeats that sex negative tone. Language is more than individual words for me.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Really good point, thanks Sadie, nodding especially hard at this: “I seek out sex writing that embraces a sex positive sentiment over one that avoids certain words but repeats that sex negative tone.”

  • Fred says:

    Sadie makes a good point. In an early draft of the text I had the line “context is everything” and somewhere along the editing that got left out. Now I think about it ‘Brazen’ has negative connotations for me too.

  • Phillip says:

    I think that I shall contemplate the word ‘Deviant’ for a bit. Is it’s root in divergence? I’ll have to start searching won’t I? Is it bad to deviate from the norm? Is the ‘norm’ defined as what most of the people do most of the time? Remembering my psych class it seems that the forgoing does translate into normal even if it is deviant? Already I am starting to stumble!

    I think that I may consider Samhain as my point of departure from which I enter this wordy world. Happy Halloween! Is Halloween happy? I think it may be here in the USA, but not so much in other parts of the World. It is really a time not meant for children. The USA seems to be a bit bland when it comes to Holidays or whatever they may be called. We have no very long and deep history. Samhain doesn’t really seem to be a Holiday in the sense we would describe the word ‘Holiday’ here.


    PS Here is to ‘Smut’! What does it mean in England? I think a smutty word now and then is necessary to give a little ‘kick’ that when missing may diluted and detract from the text as a whole. I will be checking out the “Pervy Thoughts” list. There is a quote (I forget from whom) that “MAN (& WOMAN) are the limit of their language”.

    PSS Being interested in the history of most anything, I find that History in the USA is largely not taught as it is really awful and hard to believe that a century is enough time to reinvent what passes for our ‘culture’.


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