The patriotic fig leaf

(About men’s bodies; some readers may want to exercise caution.)

The Michael Lucas (gay porn studio) Fourth of July sale for this year:


They are covering their junk with the Stars and Stripes (and their hands): the flag as fig leaf, or modesty shield.

Covering your nakedness. The minimal protection for your genitals is what you already have available: your hands:


Or you can hold some fabric — a washcloth, a towel, a sock, a shirt, whatever — over your junk as a modesty shield, as here (genderfuck performer Sinon Loresca):


Or you can hold or suspend some object over your crotch. Like a football (rugby player in a Dieux du Stade calendar):


Or a guitar (Peter Sellars in the nudist colony scene from A Shot in the Dark):


Or a top hat (Neil Patrick Harris):


For longer-lasting, hands-free concealment, you can use a garment designed to be minimal, but still junk-covering: a g-string, some kind of thong, a cock sock. or a jockstrap, all of which have been illustrated on this blog.

Now, if you’re going about in public naked except for some kind of modesty shield, then, yes, you’re concealing you naughty bits, but you’re also calling attention to them. There is a fine line between modesty and cock teases, and to me, #1 seems clearly over that line. Enjoyable (if you’re into men’s bodies), but not at all modest. Instead, it says: Independence Day is Dick Day!

A messier interpretation. Maybe the three guys in #1 are using the flag not to conceal their junk, but to mop up after ejaculation. Ick, the Stars and Stripes as a cum rag (aka cum-ragcumrag, or come rag). For Desecration Day.

On this sense of cumrag, from Wiktionary:

A piece of fabric [this is a bit too specific, since cum rags include items of clothing and paper tissues as well as bits of fabric] used by a male to clean semen from himself after masturbation: Socks make great cumrags.

You can buy labeled cloths for this purpose:


(Towels labeled jizz are also available for purchase.)

For more improvisatory guys:


A chart ranking types of cum rags, from the site (directed at women):


Note that actual rags, in this sense from NOAD2,

noun rag: a piece of old cloth, especially one torn from a larger piece, used typically for cleaning things: he wiped his hands on an oily rag | a piece of rag.

don’t figure in the cum rag chart. That is, the compound cum rag is non-subsective: a cum rag is not, in general, a rag (though a rag can be pressed into service as a cum rag). Instead, the compound is resembloid: a cum rag is like a rag, in that it’s a piece of clothing, fabric, or paper tissue that looks like a rag and is used for a similar purpose.

As far as I can see, cum rag and its variants don’t appear in standard dictionaries, even the scholarly multi-volume slang dictionaries (GDoS and HDAS) and the OED, though all these big dictionaries have come / cum shot. Maybe I’ve just not searched carefully enough.

In any case, the compound, in the sense above, is in widespread vernacular use.

Then it turns out that there’s a second sense of cum rag, involving a semantic extension from a piece of material to a person serving a purpose like that of the piece of material: someone who enthusiastically mops up semen — that is, a cum whore / slut / fag. From Wiktionary:

A person who engages in sex frequently and receives semen inside or on them: John is a total cumrag when he wants to be.

This brings me to another t-shirt:


The shirt in #8 has the label this shirt on it, referring to the shirt on which the label is printed. But the shirt in #10 has no demonstrative in its label, opening the way to (at least) two interpretations: one in which cum rag refers to the shirt on which it’s printed (roughly, ‘This is a cum rag’), one in which cum rag refers to the person wearing the shirt (roughly, ‘I am a cum rag’). The second understanding is almost surely the one most people are likely to get, since t-shirts identifying the wearer are not at all uncommon, even in matters of sexual preference and identity.

For instance, I posted on 2/27/15 about a line of Curbwear singlets and underwear bearing labels for gay male sexual preferences, among them:


And on the Usenet newsgroup soc.motss on 5/16/04, I told this t-short story (lightly edited):

Some years ago, with the collusion of an Ohio auto registrar, I obtained a Queer Card from the state of Ohio: I wore my QUEER QUEER QUEER t-shirt, and she got it into the frame, and then I had that for five years. About this time, a friend on soc.motss had Queer Cards printed up for us all, but *I* had a photo ID.

A piece of the shirt (made by the Don’t Panic company, but apparently no longer available from them):


The two interpretations in #10 are familiar from another labeling context, namely the labels on medicine bottles. The ‘This is a cum rag’ interpretation is parallel to the understanding we give to Child-Proof on a medicine bottle (the bottle is child-proof); and the ‘I am a cum rag’ interpretation is parallel to the understanding we give to Adult Strength on a medicine bottle (the contents of the bottle are adult strength).

(The classic reference here: Jerrold M. Sadock, Read at your own risk: Syntactic and semantic horrors you can find in your medicine chest. Chicago Linguistic Society 10.599-607 (1974).)

One Response to “The patriotic fig leaf”

  1. Bigmacbear Says:

    Then there is the Welsh translation of the word “Welsh” from English: “Cymraeg” (which is pronounced perilously close to English “cum rag” except with a long “a”).

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