Archive for the ‘Taboo language and slurs’ Category

Morning name: Baskit

December 31, 2015

My recent “boxboys and transitive bottoming” posting led me to the informal English vocabulary for talking about the male genitals euphemistically: package, box, basket, junk, stuff, sack, unit, … (photo #1 there is an entertaining presentation of packages and boxes) — what you might think of as packagecabulary or boxcabulary. (NOAD2 has package ‘a man’s genitals’, but none of the other boxcabulary.)

That posting probably primed me to think of the premium underwear company Baskit; in the very crowded field of homoerotic underwear marketing, the company manages to be profoundly gay, starting with its name.


boxboys and transitive bottoming

December 29, 2015

(Lots of plain talk about bodies and sexual practces, so not for kids or the sexually modest. But also plenty of stuff of linguistic interest.)

An ad for a Christmas sale on gay porn at an aggregation site for porn (of all sorts) that fills my mailbox with offers, most of which I just trash, but in this case… Here’s the ad, with the sale details cropped out:


We’re left with six naked guys in Santa caps (ohhh, Santa baby!), their genitals covered by the (Christmas) packages and boxes they’re carrying. They’re presented as hot gay men cruising and admiring one another’s endowments — and in the case of one man, Gay 1, reaching into his neighbor’s box to handle its contents.


The news for cartoons

December 15, 2015

Four things: an interview with Bob Mankoff; two recent Zippy strips; and a piece on background color in comic strips. (Eventually there are also a couple of items of gay interest.)


Gay Porn Portal

December 6, 2015

(Mostly about gay porn resources, with some plain language but no actually X-rated images (though the images flirt with the rating). And there are several linguistic points.)

Yesterday I stumbled across a Gay Porn Site (as it labels itself) called “cocksuckers guide” (how crude is that?). The name cocksucker here is not used more or less literally, as ‘fellator’ (esp. a male fellator), and it certainly is not used as in this NOAD2 entry for the word:

vulgar slang, chiefly N. Amer.  a contemptible person (used as a generalized term of abuse)

Instead, it’s used in a sense that’s historically intermediate between those two senses, as ‘gay man, queer’: though what gay men actually share is a sexual attraction to other men, fellating other men is the characteristic sexual act of a gay man, so it was natural to extend cocksucker to refer to gay men in general; but then distaste for gay men and their sexual activities contaminated the term cocksucker, and it became a slur, a term of abuse, at first used of gay men and then generalized, ultimately even to inanimate objects: (said of a recalcitrant corkscrew) This cocksucker [or: this cocksucking corkscrew] doesn’t work!


Using an ethnic slur

November 23, 2015

Once again, the New York Times has tip-toed around a taboo word or (in this case) slur by paraphrasing a speaker, while signaling that the speaker used an item banned from the paper.

This time, it came in the story “Ben Carson Is Struggling to Grasp Foreign Policy, Advisers Say” by Trip Gabriel, which quotes Duane R. Clarridge, former CIA agent and adviser to Carson:

“Russian special forces are staying in the Titanic Hotel in Sulaymaniya,” the operative said, according to notes recorded by [Carson’s top adviser Armstrong] Williams. “They frequent an Irish pub in the hotel bar.”

“The jump from Erbil and Soviets [by which Clarridge must have meant Russians]” to the Chinese in Damascus “is a long leap,” Mr. Clarridge said, using an ethnic slur for the Chinese.

Two things here:


Clean underwear

November 6, 2015

A recent tv commercial ‘Clean Underwear’ for Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper, featuring the four Charmin bears and their mother, skirts direct mention of feces stains on underwear (colloquially referred to euphemistically as skidmarks), while including a very slightly concrealed allusion to skids. A performance that some viewers found funny-cute and others found offensive. By going to this site, you can access a video of the commercial that loops through the thing again and again, until you shut it off.


Bullshido, bullshtein, and cork soakers

November 4, 2015

(All sorts of taboo language and sexual references.)

So I posted a brief notice of Mark Peters’s recently published bullshit lexicon, noting in passing the euphemism bullshine, which wasn’t among the many listed in the book. That has led me to a play on bullshit, the portmanteau Bullshido; through Michael Covarrubias, to the swearword malapropism bullshtein in the movie Johnny Dangerously; and through the malapropistic slur cork-soaker in that movie, to a hilarious SNL sketch “Cork Soakers”, where the expression is a comic double entendre. What a long strange trip.


Briefly noted: a bullshit lexicon

November 3, 2015

Published on October 27th, Mark Peters’s guide to the vocabulary of bullshit as a form of language use:

(That takes him into a certain amount of discourse on bullshit referring to animal excrement, but cow manure is not the point of the book.) (more…)


November 3, 2015

(Mostly about dance, but with a digression on a racial slur.)

In the November 2nd New Yorker, under Dance, a Joan Acocella piece, “Tap Routine: Donald Byrd considers the evolution of minstrelsy”. The background:

For bien-pensant people looking to enjoy the art of the past, there is probably nothing more bewildering — not the gaze-worthy nudes of Titian, not the beautiful dances created for Indian girls who had been sold to their temples as priestess-prostitutes — than the minstrel shows that flourished in America in the years surrounding the Civil War. Typically, these shows featured a lineup of a dozen or so men performing comic songs and skits based on “darkie” stereotypes, above all the image of black people as happy-go-lucky, lazy, feckless guys lying around and chewing on something or other. Minstrel shows seem even more deplorable in that they began as the creation of white people, performing in blackface and with big, woolly wigs. But such shows were also hugely popular with black people, who were soon producing their own versions, in which they, too, corked up and put on fuzzy wigs. We owe minstrelsy a great debt. It was the foremost precursor of vaudeville. The one and then the other were what regular people had by way of variety-show entertainment before TV, and therefore they were the arena in which clogging and jigging and other dances coalesced into what we now call tap dance.


David Hammons

November 2, 2015

Mostly about art, but with some ethnic slurs, visual puns, and symbolic flags.

In the November 2nd New Yorker a piece “A Tale of Two Cities: The Old Guard meets a new crop in “Greater New York.”” by Andrea K. Scott, about the current show at MOMA PS1. Illustrated by David Hammons’s “African-American Flag”, which stands in the courtyard at the entrance to the museum:


A version of the U.S. flag done in the three colors of the Pan-African flag: red, black, and green instead of red, whte, and blue.



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