On the fisting patrol

Things you can do with a fist.

Yesterday, in my posting “Two cartoons from friends”, significant uncertainty about whether the verb to fist in the second cartoon was intended merely as a contact-action verb (roughly, ‘to punch’) or as a reference to a sexual practice. Right after that, friends posted photos of this t-shirt, on sale (in a range of sizes, from infants’ on up) in Walmart:

(#1) The fisting love t-shirt, available from many sources on amazon.com and elsewhere

Apparently intended as a joke, but possibly understood by some as an innocent reference to fist-bumping.

The fist image. The t-shirt shows a raised fist — now a well-known symbol of defiance or resistance (it’s used on t-shirts in combination with the slogan Resist). Here’s the rainbow resistance version of the symbol:

(#2)

But the same image also symbolizes a fist penetrating a sexcavity (vagina or anus) in the practice of fisting.

And the fist image, oriented horizontally rather than vertically, also stands for a fist bump, as here:

(#3)

This image too is not univocal: it could be seen as the threat of a punch rather than as an offer to exchange a companionable manual greeting.

Meanwhile, the term fisting, with or without the raised fst image, has been used for other playful-raunchy t-shirts, as in this slogan (which you can find on a shirt modeled by a young man):

(#4)

The fist bump. Illustrated here:

(#5)

The manual gesture, similar in function to a handshake or high five, conveys greeting, respect or approval, or celebration. It seems to have originated between men in a sporting context and is especially associated with African Americans and with bro-solidarity, but is now in more general use (and is sometimes advocated as a more hygienic alternative to the handshake).

 

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