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The online diary of an ethical pervert.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Le mot juste

Words have power. The power that they have is to control meaning, to create and define our world and situations, the right word in the right place. I've been thinking recently about the words I use in the blog, and the words my partners use in play and the day-to-day conversations we have about BDSM, what they mean and how they codify our exchanges. I'll hopefully do some more of these, as and when the muse hits me. In this instance the muse that hit me was The Photographer noting that we have "only had sex once or twice". The rest of the time he was using or fucking me, we have never made love. Actually, I'm not sure I've ever made love. So I thought it worth while breaking down the four terms, showing how they operate grammatically and practically.

Making Love - Looking at the construction, this is clearly a collaborative process: something is being created and that thing is love. It is the physical manifestation of love, and it is a mutual act: you can't do it by yourself. You can make love with someone, or to someone (and here the emphasis is on "to" as "giving to" like a gift or offering), but there has to be a "someone", a person to whom you wish to give love or with whom you wish to make it. The term is also a little coy, and old fashioned term which also means to woo or to pursue in a romantic sense, specifically when used as "making love to". It's also euphemistic, avoiding any relation to physicality, focusing instead on the intangible noun "love". A phrase for lovers, for those who like to soften the blows, for those with a poetic bent.

Sex - Calling a spade a spade, this is the most generic term to my mind. It has a hint of the biological and the medical, especially with the alternative meaning of physical gender. It also carried a note of the classroom about it, connotations created by phrases such as "Sexual Education", and it is the word that is probably most used to describe the act. Grammatically, you "have sex" you don't "do sex" or "make sex", once more lending the term a neutrality, a slight distance from the act itself. The conjunction "with" always follows, which gives the impression that sex is an act done between equal parties as entities on either side of the conjunction have equal grammatical weight: "A has sex with B" compared to "B has sex with A". A word for everybody then, safe to print in the daily newspaper or textbooks. Calm, balanced and rational with barely a hint of feelings, either positive or negative.

Fucking - This is my preferred term within the blog and the one I will use as a general term instead of sex. Part of this is because I want to distance myself from everyday terminology and also because I want to be specific about the BDSM power exchange involved in my interactions. "Fuck" is an emotive word and I wanted to express the strength of my experiences in a way which the neutral "sex" does not and "making love" does but in the wrong context. It is also something that is done to someone else, rather than done with, unlike the previous two examples, fucking does not appear in sentences as an equally balanced act, it avoids all conjunctions entirely in a direct statement "A fucks B". To get fucked is to suffer a loss of power or control, to be overcome or somehow mistreated. Fuck is a dirty word, and we can snigger about it on the back of buses, a filthy secret, but a secret between conspiring adults. Interestingly it still is a shared act, even though it is imbalanced. You can, of course, "go fuck yourself", but that's not quite the same thing.

Using - The vaguest term of all, if I used any of the other three you would know what specific physical interaction I was talking about, and also probably gleam some of the context. Not so with "use". It is an awkward term to match to a person, when you talk about "using someone" you refer to some sort of exchange, probably imbalanced. To call someone "used" is to imply they have been cheated, it also sidles nicely together with "abused". When the term appears in a sexual context it creates objectification, specifically objects with a sexual use. We use things: vibes, dildos, crops, canes. We also use slaves, if we don't view our slaves as people. If we did, then we might fuck them instead. The Photographer uses me, so the word has a power for me, making me grin on public transport when I bring it to mind.

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