Gestures and symbols

From many sources, in e-mail and on Facebook, this ad from the Family Research Council:


“Oral Sex and Doggie Style! Family Research Council: Call 2 Fall Is Call 2 FAIL!” by Lisa Derrick 6/27/13:

Gay-hating Family Research Council, now labeled a hate group rather than carrying the Christian branding of being a loving faith-based group, has yet another epic fail on their sweaty social media hands. Their latest campaign, Call 2 Fall complaining about marriage and the repeal of DOMA using hip cool internet lingo is the most hysterically wrong-thinking ad since, well their last one.

… This image from Family Research Council … clearly suggests fellatio followed by modified doggie style intercourse.

So: a “call to fall on our knees” comes out looking like a call to fellatio.

A blogger who uses the name twolf has altered the image to make the fellatio more explicit:


The gesture of kneeling can convey many things: submission, obedience, worship, etc. — and, yes, intention to perform oral sex. Gestures and postures are just bits of behavior, which have to be interpreted in context; they are, in principle, always ambiguous. (So it is with linguistic and paralinguistic features like voice pitch, creaky voice, “g-dropping”, and so on; it’s all, as I like to say, “just stuff”.)

Gestural ambiguity can be combined with lexical ambiguity, as in Rufus Wainwright’s song “Gay Messiah”, discussed in this 2012 posting:

On to Rufus’s text, which is packed with ambiguities pairing religious references to sexual ones, most notably in the refrain “the gay messiah’s coming” (arriving, ejaculating), but also in the allusion to the beheading of John the Baptist (someone will demand Rufus’s head, and he will give it — that is, give head to them, fellate them [or, possibly, that he will give them the head of his penis for them to suck]), and in “pray for your sins”, combining praying to be forgiven for your sins and praying to engage in sins.

From the song:

…No I won’t be the one
Baptized in cum

What will happen instead
Someone will demand my head
And then I will kneel down
And give it to them looking down

Better pray for your sins
Better pray for your sins
’cause the gay messiah’s coming

Anti-gay groups have a poor track record with their ad campaigns. Here’s the National Organization for Marriage:

On April 8, 2009, NOM began a “2 Million for Marriage” (2M4M) initiative with the intention of organizing two million activists nationwide. When NOM used the abbreviation “2M4M” for their “2 Million for Marriage” campaign, the media noted that in personal ads, “2M4M” is code for two men seeking a third male sexual partner. NOM did not secure the domain name and other net resources that use the “2M4M” term. Christopher Ambler, a consultant in rapid web development who characterizes himself as a “happily married straight guy”, purchased the domain “” and branded it as “Two Men For Marriage,” running material counter to NOM’s 2M4M aims

Visual and lexical ambiguity are especially likely to co-occur in material involving sausages, hot dogs, etc., where phallic symbolism and reference are always lurking just below the surface. As in this eCard:


(When this was posted on Facebook, it set off a thread on men’s names for their penises.)

The card alludes to a well-known Oscar Mayer jingle that goes:

My bologna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R
My bologna has a second name, it’s M-A-Y-E-R
I love to eat it every day
And if you ask me why I’ll say
’Cause Oscar Mayer has a way
With B-O-L-O-G-N-A

Hard to beat “I love to eat it every day”. Get down on your knees and eat my bologna, kid!

Then there’s the Oscar Mayer jingle that takes the opposite viewpoint, that of the wiener:

Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener
That is what I’d truly like to be
’Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener
Everyone would be in love with me

Everyone would be in love with me because everyone would want to eat me. Down on your knees and eat me, kid!

Oh, my.

2 Responses to “Gestures and symbols”

  1. Adam Pack Says:

    Not sure if you’ve seen this collection, by the frequenters of Wonkette:

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