Meaty matters

(Mostly about language, but male bodies and bodyparts play significant roles.)

Yesterday, a posting about a fantasy agency supplying male hustlers, featuring two meat + N compounds: meat market ‘sexual marketplace’ and meatmen ‘men considered as sexual objects’ (as bodies as wholes, but especially as assemblages of sexual parts — cock, balls, and ass).  The interplay of two senses of meat here (the body, especially the male body, as a whole vs. the central masculine bodypart, the penis) led me to two joking uses of meat, in a Pat Byrnes New Yorker cartoon from 2001 (in which the ‘animal flesh as food’ sense of meat is central) and a piece of advice on the Usenet newsgroup soc.motss from Joseph Francis some years ago (in which the ‘body as sexual object’ sense is central).

The Byrnes:


And the quote from Joe Francis, directed at gay men:

Remember; you’re not just a man, you’re also a piece of meat.

The Byrnes turns farly simply on the primary sense of meat. From NOAD2:

the flesh of an animal (especially a mammal) as food

(In a while, we’ll get to double entendres involving this sense.)

[Digression on Byrnes, who’s appeared once before on this blog. From Wikipedia:

Pat Byrnes is an American cartoonist best known for his work for The New Yorker. He created the comic strip Monkeyhouse, which ran for three years.]

Then on figurative developments from the primary sense, from GDoS:

1 a body, usu. a woman’s, as an object of sexual pleasure [1st cite 1515-16; in the gay world, the body in question is usually a man’s, as in the Francis quote]

2 (also lump of meat, piece of meat) the penis [1st cite c. 1564]

3 the vagina [1st cite 1611]

The sense development in 2 is presumably metaphorical — penis as like a piece of meat — while the development in 3 is pretty much a classic whole-for-(central)-part metonymy.

meat ‘body’. From a 5/1/16 posting with a caption for a shot of a man in his underwear:

He scrutinized himself pitilessly in the
Mirror, as a piece of meat to feed the
Hot guys

The development is from meat as food, providing one kind of pleasure, to meat as providing other sorts of pleasures — visual, tactile, sexual.

That brings us to the compounds meat market and meat rack, referring to places where bodies are made available to others. From GDoS:

meat market as a place, usu. for sexual encounters:

(a) a rendezvous for prostitutes of either sex [first cite 1896]

(b) (US) any situation or place where people are regarded as commodities, such as a recruiting agency ior a modelling agency [first cite 1941]

(c) anywhere that people gather for the primary purpose of finding sexual partners [first cite 1957, in a college context]

(d) in fig. use, the world of commercial sexuality [first cite 1967]

meat rack (orig. gay) a place, such as a bar or a particular street, where homosexuals display their charms to potential customers [this should be revised to “potential sexual partners”, since the encounters are not necessarily commercial]. After the ‘singles bar’ explosion of the 1970s, the term was extended to heterosexuality. [1st cite 1963, from John Rechy’s City of Night, referring to a cruisy L.A. park; 2nd 1978 from Larry Kramer’s Faggots, referring to the hook-up area of Fire Island Pines on the Long Island NY coast]

meat ‘penis’. Very common uses here in the (rhyming) slang idiom beat one’s meat ‘masturbate, jack off’ and the slang idiom eat s.o.’s meat ‘fellate s.o., suck s.o.’s cock’. The latter has been the source of numerous double entendres on the ‘food’ sense of meat, as on the


cookout apron from Crazy Dog Tshirts in Rochester NY (on Amazon for $26.99)


and t-shirts with the slogans

I ♥ TO RUB MY MEAT [a reference to rubbing a preparation of herbs and spices into meat before cooking]

Once you put my meat in your mouth you’re going to want to swallow. [with image of a grill]

I rub my meat before I stick it in. [with image of a grill]

In other contexts, the phallic reference is explicit. As in the gay comics series Meatmen, posted on here.

And in the name of the punk band The Meatmen, complete with cartoon dicks:


The Meatmen are an American punk band headed by Tesco Vee, originally existing from 1981 to 1997. They were known for their outrageous stage antics and offensive lyrics. They reformed in 2008 and continue to tour and record. (Wikipedia link)

Tesco Vee (born Robert Vermeulen; 1955) is a Michigan-based punk rock musician and co-founder of Touch and Go Records zine. Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, he is a former elementary school teacher and the founding member, and front man, of punk bands The Meatmen, Tesco Vee’s Hate Police, Blight, and Dutch Hercules. (Wikipedia link)

And in the song “It Ain’t the Meat, It’s the Motion”, whose title has itself become a catchphrase and an idiom. Glosses from Wiktionary:

When it comes to sexual satisfaction, penis size doesn’t matter, but technique does.

(more generally) The tools you use to accomplish a goal are not as important as what you do with them.


Originally a 1951 song by Lois Mann and Henry Glover, recorded by The Swallows; you can listen to it here. It’s probably now known best through the cover Maria Muldaur recorded in 1999, which you can listen to here.

Finally, there is of course phallic meat in the world of gay porn, as in this reference to prime meat in the liner notes for Choice Cuts (1983 HIS Video starring J.W. King):

All-beef weenies on the rampage! From hard hats to surfers, students to street hustlers, Choice Cuts shows you Southern California from a distinctly male U.S.D.A. prime meat in action perspective.


2 Responses to “Meaty matters”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    “It Ain’t the Meat, It’s the Motion” inescapably reminds me of a cigarette ad from my youth, whose slogan I chose to interpret in a way probably not intended by its creators: “It’s not how long you make it, it’s how you make it long”.

  2. Robert Coren Says:

    Also, I know some people who use “meatspace” to mean what we otherwise call “real life” as distinguished from strictly electronic interaction.

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