Teabagging and politics

 

Steve Benen, in his “Political Animal” column in the Washington Monthly on 14 April:

INNUENDO OVERLOAD…. I’m just a little surprised on “Countdown” last night, MSNBC’s David Shuster had the chutzpah to say this on the air about the “Tea Party” events.

“Tea bagging is not a spontaneous uprising…. The people who came up with it are a familiar circle of Republicans, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, both of whom have firm support from right wing financiers and lobbyists. […]

“We can only speculate why widespread tea bagging made [Fox News’ Neil] Cavuto think of the Million Man march, unless he got them confused with Dick Armey.

“And in Cavuto’s defense, if you are planning simultaneous tea bagging all around the country, you’re going to need a Dick Armey.”

Between all the talk about Tea Baggers, Dick Armey, and huge stimulus packages, I’m beginning to think the political discourse at least deserves a PG-13 rating.

Along the way, Schuster tossed out “going nuts for it”, “whip out the festivities”, and “give President Obama a strong tongue-lashing and lick government spending”. I suppose that once people started using tea bags in Tea Party protests (against the fiscal policies of the Obama administration), teabagging was a natural term for the protests, and then double entendres were inevitable (from Schuster and many others). And since Dick Armey has been a prominent protestor, his name was ripe for play .

(Hat tip to Victor Steinbok.)

Teabagging (a.k.a. tea-bagging and tea bagging) is a sexual act involving a man’s scrotum (hence the references to nuts in material about the tea party protests, as above and in the sign slogan “Teabag Washington? They have too many NUTS Already!”) and someone else’s mouth or face or head. Either participant can be the more active, so when it’s an oral act, teabagging is the scrotal counterpart of fellatio (that is, it’s ball-sucking) or irrumation; as a result, there’s some variation in how people talk about the act: who teabags who? In fact, slang dictionaries mostly seem to define teabagging as the counterpart of fellatio, but at least two — The Slangman Guide to Dirty English (David Burke, 2003) and Gay-2-Zee (Donald F. Reuter, 2006) — define it as the counterpart of irrumation.

Teabagging can be intended to be pleasurable or (for the participant receiving the scrotum) humiliating. The second possibility lies behind the sign slogan “Tea Bag the Liberal Dems Before They Tea Bag You!!”, where tea bag functions hostilely, much like screw in similar expressions.

The history of the expression isn’t entirely clear (the practices have presumably been around for a long time), but it’s a natural metaphor. Several sources suggest that the expression originated as gay male slang (at first only in, um, oral use) and then spread to a larger population and eventually to print, and several take the vector for its spread to be John Waters’s 1998 movie Pecker (which is where I first encountered the expression).


4 Responses to “Teabagging and politics”

  1. trawnapanda Says:

    I’m at a loss to figure out how teabagging can be the scrotal equivalent of the penile irrumation. fellatio/blowjob, certainly (that is, where the receptive partner is the active participant, and the owner of the penis -er- lies back and thinks of England). but irrumation, but the definitions I’ve found, has the owner of the penis as the active partner, and the owner of the mouth as the passive parther (aka “mouth fucking”). It has a distinctly take-charge, you-the-mouth don’t have a choice here.

    given that testes don’t get erections, just how can the owner of the testes be the active, thrusting, sexual-top person? Gravity being what it is, you cant push testes in and out of an orifice, in analogue to irrumation. If you don’t cooperate with gravity, insertion aint gonna happen.

  2. arnoldzwicky Says:

    To trawnapanda: from Gay-2-Zee:

    teabagging sexual act where one “dips” his scrotum (like a tea bag into a cup) into and out of the mouth of a partner.

    In some of the sex guides, the recipient lies on their back and the provider straddles the recipient’s head.

  3. WSJ on tea-bagging « Arnold Zwicky’s Blog Says:

    […] on tea-bagging By arnoldzwicky As a follow-up to my earlier posting on tea-bagging, here’s James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web Today […]

  4. arnoldzwicky Says:

    Sex columnist Dan Savage has now taken up the question of who teabags who. (Hat tip to Neal Goldfarb.)

    Savage considers two possibilities for the argument structure of TEABAG (my terms, not his, of course): one in which participant A puts their scrotum in the mouth of partipant B, and one in which participant B takes A’s scrotum in their mouth. A is the “active” participant in the first interpretation, B the “active” partipant in the second. Savage goes for the first, saying “A teabagger dips sack; a teabaggee receives dipped sack. It’s a little confusing, I realize, in that it’s the opposite of a blowjob”. So he asserts, in the face of reports of both usages; presumably he’s insisting that only one interpretation can be “correct”. One Right Way! (Though I’ve pointed out that penis+mouth sex can be viewed either way, as fellatio or irrumation.)

    Savage does note a possible intransitive use of the verb, with a reciprocal interpretation, as in “They were teabagging in the Oval Office”.

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