Early Morning Invite from Hot Woman and Bonus Man Inspires Only Dread, Doubt, and Self-Loathing



I love your response, Dan ~ especially the post-script: "Pussies are strong, SHATBED—pussies chew up dicks and spit out humans. Balls really should be our go-to metaphor for weak and vulnerable—".
That said, I vote we find non-body-part words to describe human qualities we're not keen on. Prick, cunt, dickhead, pussy etc etc etc ... why use perfectly okay body parts to trash one another? Weird.
Just my 2 cents, YMMV.
Thanks for all these years of great columns from a 60yo dyke who's been reading Savage Love forever!


This language reclamation is very King Margo is Season Three of THE MAGICIANS.


It seems like the LW has a long way to go to reconcile his considerable feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt - "I'm a huge piece of shit," etc.

I really hope he invests as heavily in reshaping his mind as he has in reshaping his body, not just for his own sake, but for the sakes of those he becomes intimate with.


Good advice as usual, but the P.S. was the best part.


Some men are fearful of being sexual in very close proximity for another man, even if their female sex partner is the center of all attention. They are afraid of incidental contact, especially involving their penises, and they are afraid they will not maintain their erection while another man watches them having sex. Those men have to decide whether they are going to let their fears control them, and thereby miss out on fun sexual experiences, or whether they are going jump in and have the sex that they seem to want.

I would add, nothing demystifies sex more than group sex.


“...I’m a huge piece of shit and I'm very awkward...I’m weak...My gut reaction made me feel guilty and like a bad person...is the truth that I am too big a pussy and possibly a homophobe?...I was scared to ask specifics...”
“...I'm better looking, face-wise, then I ever realized...now I'm one of the most fit people at the gym...My dick is big, so it's not an inadequacy thing...”
“...My boner of excitement turned into a scared turtle”
“...6AM...She responded right away that she into me and then invited me over to play with “them” immediately...”

Pretty sure this is a letter I wrote to “Penthouse Forum” when I was thirteen.


"just as the thought of having sex with or near a woman might turn me off. (The second "might" in that last sentence is obviously doing a lot of work, considering my recently-much-discussed-in-this-space first sexual experience.)"

If you don't want to discuss this, Dan, stop bringing it up all the time. Especially when it's utterly irrelevant. We know that having sex with or near a woman might turn you off.

@1: I, too, dislike using "pussy" to mean "coward." Because we already have a perfectly good, non-gendered, non-ambiguous word meaning "coward." It's "coward."

Rather than the whole ~pussies-are strong-because-they-spit-babies-out-so-say-"balls"-or- "scrotum"-instead~ rigamarole that Dan always goes into, why not just say, "using pussy as a synonym for 'coward' is misogynistic; just say coward."?


Good advice about responding to a stranger at 6:00 a.m. And probably never wise to go to someone's house for sex without first having met in a public place to get a sense of what kind of person or people you're dealing with.

Also, the lw might want to learn the distinction between a MMF and a MFM threesome: the former implies that the man is having sexual contact with both a man and a woman; the latter implies that the woman is or might only be having sexual contact with both men, who don't have contact with each other (other than high fiving).

If the lw thinks that a MFM sounds like potential fun, he can ask if this is supposed to be a "center of attention" fantasy. And of course, say what you are and aren't comfortable with and ask what, exactly, the other couple is looking for or anticipating.

I've orchestrated a few MFM threesomes for myself (single woman), in which the two men didn't want to do anything sexual with each other (sometimes some acts just can't help but include some incidental MM contact, but neither man is required or expected to intentionally touch the other in any kind of sexual way. That has worked out fine for me. If you're coming in as the third person to an established MF couple, you definitely want to know what they are hoping for/wanting/expecting BEFORE you come over.


LW's personal issues aside, did I read this right that it was a 6AM booty call?! I'd worry this couple is cranked outta their minds.


Are we just going to ignore this line: “I knew he was in her pictures for a reason but I responded hoping I could text with her a bit and maybe "separate" her from her man.“

He is right. He is huge piece of shit.


"It's six A.M. in the morning; it must be a booty call!"


Great song.


Yeah, a 3 some invite at 6 a.m. os a couple who've been partying all nite and that's a whole different scene than you want as a first timer


@6-exactly what I was thinking.


@10: Oh yeah, you're right. That an asshat, right there, that is.


L-dub... you are a wreck! In so many ways! Trying to separate get man from her...wtf? Taking 6am booty calls from couples when it's not what you are prepared for at all? Time to get comfortable with yourself before you inflict yourself on the dating populace. In the words of Dan... be in good working order. You are not.


Agree with Kavita @ 1 and nocute @ 7. The use of genitalia to describe often negative human traits is just as bad as attempting to give them new, “liberating,” positive meanings.
Pussy should not stand for cowardice nor should it stand for strength, balls should not stand for strength nor vulnerability, cunt should not stand for dick, dick should not stand for asshole.


A person needs to set limits. 6am booty calls from strangers is a sign that you need to slow down.
And if you get a similar opportunity at 8pm on a Friday night you should clarify the MM sexual expectations and decide if you’re REALLY a top. Lol


@16 Is "asshat" (@14) acceptable?

Change is the only inevitable thing with language. Hopefully, it will change for the better.

(And I use "hopefully" in the "new" sense of "i hope." Suck it, prescriptivists.


*I hope

I am capable of proper capitalization, for all my wonton descriptivist ways.


Forgive me, I also omitted the closing parenthesis. Oy, vey is mir!


I think it's awful how many people pretend to be single women on dating apps but they are actually looking for a threesome with their boyfriend. If you advertise yourself as a single woman you should be a single woman. Not two fucking people.

I have no idea why people in these comments are blaming the LW for receiving a 6 AM booty call. He had no idea when he responded to her that she was going to ask for sex at that time. Most people would ask to get coffee.


Rest ass-ured, ass-related terminology is indeed inclusive. The use of Yiddish, possibly the ultimate fusion language, is also in your favor.


@3 yeah there's a lot to address here that isn't about threesomes or about sex at all. It's really hard to speak and listen openly and bravely when your head is all wound up with intense self-doubt.

LW, I would recommend you get a handle on that before exploring and reacting your way into trouble. p.s. hot sex will not cure self-loathing as many count on it for.


We should not use pussy, dick or asshole as pejoratives, because those are things people actually like.
We should also stop using the phrases fuck off, fuck you or go fuck yourself as insults because fucking is enjoyable.
The fact that we use these words and phrases in negative ways exemplifies how sexually inhibited our culture is.


Well...there’s a lot to unpack out of this post. Sexuality, group sex, self esteem, and the words like “pussy.” I’d like to address the words. For the record, I’m a middle aged woman, cis, bi-curious/searching. I’ve had one relationship with a woman (emotional and sexual) after an 18 year marriage to an abusive man.
I started fostering a 16 yo young man last year and am in process of taking permanent guardianship of him. I moved to WY and met him soon after. I’ve been struggling to gently correct him for language such as “that’s gay,” “that’s retarded,” “he’s a pussy,” etc. I’m actually fine with swearing. I’ve been an ally for a long time and those other pejoratives bother me way more than swearing. I’m giving my “high five” to Dan for the PS. Things aren’t exactly LGBTQ++++, or sex friendly in Wyoming (in general). I am just consistently correcting/explaining why I object to certain terms in a kind way to my bonus son. I’ve actually encouraged him to follow Dan Savage as I feel this is a really good forum, filled with answers to questions he might hesitate to ask me. He knows I’ve dated a woman, and as a physician, provided hormonal treatment to trans women (mostly...I’m a gyno and had one trans man patient while I was in a public health clinic in St Louis) and I think that’s gone a long way to inform his pretty limited views of sexuality. I’m trying hard to do this foster to perm kiddo right. My other son who grew up with me is already a staunch ally. I, myself, have very colorful language (to put it mildly) and also need to curb my usage of “pussy” and “cunt.” I have a lot of friends from the UK and Australia. Cunt has pretty much lost its sexual significance to me, but maybe it shouldn’t. A “cunt” can just be like “hey good fellow human” to me. Any commenter’s words of wisdom or gasp criticism is welcome. I can’t be preaching and not practicing, right? (I try not to preach, but discuss). Maybe I should write my own letter to Dan about this. My new son is 17 tomorrow. I want to be the best example I can for him, and foster a sex positive attitude that excludes any homophobia or racism. Also, consent has been a big topic of late. Given his new economic status he tends to want to buy overly expensive gifts for his girlfriend and I feel that can end up being coercive. Agree? Disagree? Comments?


Big dick and hot body yet so brainless.


Naw dude you're a normal person who didn't do something you weren't comfortable with. Congratulations, you're better than most of us. Keep it up!


Dan's advice is great.

Just a quick chime-in to say that the woman swiped on the guy's Tinder profile in which he was not looking for a threesome and her initial pics were of her alone. She quickly included her partner, so she's not being an asshole, but it is true that he swiped on a pic of a solo woman, not one of a woman + man. Therefore his follow up responses that included attempts to see if she was interested in any solo action are not unethical in my opinion. She came to his party, he didn't intrude on hers. And everything was above board.

So dude calls himself an asshole for doing this- but he is hard on himself all the way around. I say they all behaved like honest consenting adults negotiating what they want and no reason to accuse anyone of being an asshat or a piece of shit. And agreed regarding gendered terminology. Though I think sometimes a word can loose its gendered connotation, why bother when there are plenty of nongendered vulgarities to sling.


TheMisanthrope @10, nocutename @14

“I knew he was in her pictures for a reason but I responded hoping I could text with her a bit and maybe "separate" her from her man.“

Since "separate" was in scare quotes I read it as "separate mentally". As in the LW was just hoping for some sexy chat with this woman, where he didn't have to think about the fact that she maybe-probably-obviously has a boyfriend. Which doesn't scream "asshat" to me. People engage in noncommital online flirtation and self-serving fantasies all the time.


I'm just waiting for tinder to add 'couple' as a category - that way people could opt in or opt out and everyone would save time and aggravation.


@5. Sublime. Big upvote for your coda.

@6 Donny & @13. Ditto. @26. Lava. I think he's making it up. If it's all true, I'd be inclined to be gentle.

The takeaway is 'now that you're newly hot, be clear in laying out your boundaries and negotiating the terms on which you want to have sex'.


Yeah, this was screaming "fake" to me, too.

In the event that it isn't: Dude, you are allowed to say no to propositions. Just because you spent much of your life not getting any offers does not compel you to to accept any offer you get now. Not an offer from a couple, whose "immediate" demand should be setting off alarm bells. Why would an attractive couple be that desperate? At 6am!? Something ain't right. But, even if this couple seemed genuine, ie did not want an "immediate" acceptance, were happy to meet for coffee first, etc -- it's OK to be straight. It's OK to not want a threesome involving someone of a gender you are not attracted to.

IT'S OK TO SAY NO. For any reason whatsoever.

There are other hot women out there, hot women who don't have a man as an attached string, hot women who aren't on Tinder because they're trying to harvest kidneys from the horny and naive. Wait for them.

Great points, Dan, about how irrational it is to fear rejection more than we fear saying no to something we don't want, and about how these people were probably on a boundary-erasing bender (if they were serious about the threesome, which is a big if). I would remind SHATBED that if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Immediate no-strings sex with people you don't even know? This happens in porn but not reality. SHATBED, you made the right call.


"(The second "might" in that last sentence is obviously doing a lot of work, considering my recently-much-discussed-in-this-space first sexual experience.)"

Oh Dan. You say you're tired of discussing this, yet you keep bringing it up!?


NoCute @7: Great post, also regarding the word "pussy". Coward is a word that exists. Also, "I didn't have the guts" existed long before "I didn't have the balls." There's no need to gender courage or lack of it.

Misanthrope @10: He's no bigger a piece of shit than a woman who advertises herself solo in her pics, and only after matching with someone inserts her partner into the conversation. His wishful hetero thinking is excused.

Philo @15: Yes, good advice. Work on your self-esteem, dude, not just your abs.

CMD @16: Oh, but dick SHOULD stand for cunt and/or for asshole. ;-)

TLC @21: Yes to both. A 6am Tinder match is not necessarily a 6am booty call. Could be someone on their phone while on an early bus/train (hopefully not driving) to work, just scrolling profiles to pass the time. I'd be shocked if I received an immediate response at that hour!

Perle @25: Good on you for taking this on. We do use a lot of words without thinking about them. I can say, looking back to my own childhood, that using phrases like "that's so gay" does not mean one will grow up to be a homophobe. It's just kids being kids, but good on you for providing gentle correction/direction to this young man, and for your compassion and support of the trans community as well. Best of luck to you in reddest Wyoming!

Margarita @29: I read it as physically separate, ie, he hoped that they had an open relationship and that he could have sex with her one on one. Not an unreasonable hope, given her solo pics and solo approach, and he did take no for an answer, so he did nothing wrong here.

Traffic @30: There are plenty of sites where swingers can seek others. I agree this couple was misusing Tinder by using the woman as bait. (Weren't we just talking about this as a common practice for threesome-seeking? Ah, yes we were: https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2019/06/20/40538413/the-rentboy-was-the-bait )


BDF: I don't mind if couples want to use Tinder - I'm very libertarian about romance and think everyone should be able to do what they like. However, in the same way you don't want to have to scroll through both male and female profiles if you only want one, you shouldn't have to scroll past a bunch of couples if that's not your thing. If couples can clearly ID as such, then they can get better results b/c everyone looking at their profile is actually looking for that, and there's no "bait" accusations because they aren't force to ID as a single man or woman for the profile.


Harriet @31, follow your inclinations, don’t tell me what mine should be. Fake or not, this guy is too clueless to be on Tinder.


Okay; it's 4:15 and I can't sleep, so I'm going to take on "pussy" vs. "dick," "cunt," "prick," and "asshole."

Let's start with "asshole." I like using it, because for one thing, everybody has one, so it's not gendered. It's also not a genital, and not necessarily related to sex (yes, I am aware of the existence of anal sex, but at the risk of sounding homophobic, it doesn't really exist for that purpose, if you know what I mean. That's kind of a collateral use.) Assholes produce shit, so calling someone one means they're full of shit or shitty in some way. Shit is not sexual (for the vast majority), and also separate from gender. However, I don't often hear women get called "asshole"---yet. And in the spirit of equality, they should be when they are behaving shittily.

"Dick" and "prick:" I hear these used by men and women alike, but only to refer to men (though I, myself use and have heard others start using "dick" to talk to a woman, as in "don't be a dick," "that's a dick move"). They seem to have the identical meaning, which as far as I can tell, is equivalent to "asshole." Since they are gendered, and since they imply that the penis is as "dirty" as a poop-producing asshole, I don't love the equivalency, and that probably helps subliminally convert the penis into a "gross" organ, so we should stick to calling male assholes, assholes, and leave their penises out of it.

On to "cunt" (also "twat"). I can't think of a non-racist word more loaded in the U.S. than "cunt," which is why it's so weird that in the U.K., it is a sort of synonym for "dude," or "slightly foolish, laughable person" and can be used regardless of gender, at anyone, including oneself, as in, "what a silly cunt!" But in the U.S., it's a different story. I think you'd find most people here saying it's the worst thing one can call a woman. I know otherwise foul-mouthed women who find it incredibly offensive. I've heard people talk about it as "the 'c'-word," as if just uttering it is too offensive or would render one a terrible person.

I have no idea, other than that we live in a misogynistic culture, why "cunt" is so much more of a scathing insult to a woman, than "dick" is to a man. But it absolutely is.

Certainly, women have been trained to consider their genitals dirty, smelly, and gross. Which, by the way, creates a weird paradox surrounding them: your vagina is disgusting, we're always told, or the message is implied. Wash it. Douche it. Cover it, even under bed-clothing. What's that smell? Is it fish? "Who's eating tuna?" "Don't say you're having your period, say "aunt Flo" is visiting; say it's that time of the month." At the same time, be aware that your otherwise gross, smelly vagina that produces the incredibly shameful blood once a month, is also more valuable than gold. It is more special and precious than any other part of you, and you are liable to be judged solely on the amount of contact it has with others. And it is something so wonderful, that men are going to try to cajole you, coerce you, ply you with drinks, or threats, or outright rape you to have access to it: that magical, irresistible, shameful, disgusting hole between your legs--which you'd better keep closed, because that's what a lady does/because only a slut sits with her legs apart/because we can smell you/because she spread her legs, so she must have wanted it.

No wonder it's such a loaded word--simply having a vagina in our culture is a somewhat neurosis-inducing experience!

But that doesn't explain the viciousness with which the word gets uttered when it's directed at a woman, and that can come from either men or women, and mean just the same thing and be equally scalding. It seems reducing men to their genitals is insulting, but reducing women to theirs is so much more insulting, which is odd, because I think that in our culture/society, it is far more the norm to reduce women to their genitals. One reason I despise talking about "getting some pussy," is that it makes it quite clear, that the woman attached to said pussy is utterly irrelevant and unobserved and interchangeable--it's the flesh tube that's all that counts or is wanted.

Anyway. To thoroughly unpack "cunt" would take another hour, and I'm hoping to go back to sleep. Though I'm trying to do what I can to reclaim it. If someone calls some public figure that is utterly despised (and this is the only time an American would use the word--to signal the utmost despicableness), I'll say, "hey, don't compare that disgusting piece of garbage to my beautiful, pleasure-producing cunt. That pus-filled boil on the asshole of humanity doesn't give anyone any pleasure whatsoever." That usually gets a laugh, and that's that. I have a penchant for dirty-talking during sex. But I've had to tell some men preemptively (or after the fact), "just remember: I HAVE a cunt (which I love you to talk about); I'M not a cunt."

But I'm getting sleepy again, so it's time to address "pussy." I see "pussy" (used as a synonym for coward) as the most misogynistic of the insults, because it is exclusively used to refer to a man who is behaving in a cowardly manner as being feminized. It's a deeply gendered insult, and its power and effectiveness at shaming a man lies in the initial equivalency of a woman with her genitals (with all the attendant shame discussed above) and then equating a man seen as weak, with a woman. Calling a man a "pussy" is dependent on a patriarchy where only men who behave in very particular and approved "masculine" or "manly" ways get to be considered men. And men who don't conform are feminized, through homophobia and misogyny. Calling a man a "faggot" and calling him a "pussy" are very closely related--both suggest he isn't masculine enough to be a real man.

But when a woman--a WOMAN--calls a man a pussy, that's the ultimate insult, or bait. She's scornful, she's emasculating (the worst thing you can do to a man is to take his masculinity away; the worst thing you can do to a woman is to reduce her to her femininity--think about that next time you're high), she has struck a challenge. Prove to her that you're a real man: do the thing you are hesitant to do.

It should be an eradicated insult. It does a lot of damage. It upholds unhealthy, homophobic/sexist, misogynist attitudes, and perpetuates patriarchy. And it is unnecessary: coward will do just fine and is an equal opportunity epithet, free from gendered bullshit.

I wish Dan would just calmly point that out, rather than a cutesy statement about the strength of pussies relative to the strength of scrotum. Just as he wouldn't get cute if someone used the "n-word," but would denounce it on the racism inherent in it.

Good night, everyone!


@37, nocutename, thank you for educating us on the "purpose" of assholes. If you know it's homophobic, why say it?


@38: cockyballsup, no matter how much we might like to do sex things to assholes, or have sex things done to our own, it is a fact of biology and anatomy and physiology that the purpose of the asshole is to expel shit. Just like no matter how much we might like to do sex things to breasts or like sex things done to our own breasts, they are there for the purpose of feeding our infants. Just like the fact that we like to do sex things to our mouths or with our mouths, doesn't meant that from a physiological perspective, mouths are on our bodies for the purpose of kissing and sucking or licking body parts. We have mouths so we can eat.

I was aware that someone would hear me say "assholes are for pooping" and in a knee-jerk way, consider it a homophobic statement. I did not intend it to be a homophobic statement and if you think I'm spreading rampant homophobic bullshit straight out of the "god created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" playbook, then I don't think you've been reading me at all closely for the decade-plus I've been here. It seems to me that you're looking for a beef.

Which I have no interest in participating in. Sweet dreams!


I wonder how the language went from arsehole, which is the English/ etc way of saying and spelling it, to asshole for the United States.
Now I notice people here are saying and spelling it the US way, like with program, when it’s programme.



"I read it as physically separate, ie, he hoped that they had an open relationship and that he could have sex with her one on one"

Yes, also a plausible explanation. In any case, accusations of assholism seem a bit premature. I'm inclined to give the LW the benefit of a doubt, and assume (heh) that if he was really hoping to separate - as in split up - the Tinder couple, he would have said so, no scare quotes needed.


Lost Margarita: Also, if a rando from tinder can break up your relationship, there isn't much of a relationship to begin with. "No thanks to your spouse, but let me know if you want to show up some time" is a perfectly fine thing to say.


Maybe I am just not down with how the hook-up apps are now used, but no mention of personal safety here? Of how this could have been an invitation to get mugged/murdered/catfished? That you should meet in public first and discuss what everyone wants before running over with your hard dick? I thought that was standard Dan online dating advice.


@nocute, Darwin long ago convincingly rebutted (pun intended) any teleological arguments of purpose in biology. Body parts can and do have more than one function. Tongues, breasts, and indeed assholes can be used for nonverbal communication and bonding (e.g., for assholes, see dogs and many other mammals including many humans); indeed the fact that many of us have biological drives to do these things with them are a clue that these behaviors may be adaptive, neutral, or simply random accidents of evolution, even if we don't fully understand them yet. But I think it should be obvious to everyone here we can't base an ethics of what is good or purposeful on biology or evolutionary advantage; that way lies hell. My point is that significant slice of humanity (straight and gay) think assholes are a beautiful thing so I don't agree with you that it is okay to argue that we may use the word as an insult because biology.



Eh, to each their own I guess. I'm in the UK, where as you say the linguocultural context is different. "Pussy" isn't a particularly common insult here, so I don't really have strong feelings about it, though I can see your and Dan's point.

But I'm not really convinced by your arguments wrt to "arsehole", "dick", "prick", "cunt" and "twat" (though again, probably missing the US-ian nuance). I use all of those on a fairly regular basis, and apply them when appropriate to individuals of any gender. I spent my formative years in Scotland, where swearing is both very common and at times positively Rabelaesian in its inventiveness - I love it! It would be a sad day indeed if all we were 'allowed' to use was the gender-neutral arsehole.

The colourful words above all have different connotations, too. "Dick" and "prick" do not convey the same meaning to me, and neither do "cunt" and "twat". I'd call someone a dick or a cunt if I felt they were being deliberately, maliciously awful. I may call them a prick or a twat (or a knob or a fanny) if they were being a pompous arrogant buffoon, and not necessarily aware of their awfulness. In some contexts, I may use all of those as terms of endearment (though I'd be sure not to call any American a "wee cunt" lol). These different words don't seem "gendered" to me, as in Dan's example of "pussy" and "balls", where female anatomy is associated with weakness/cowardice and male anatomy with strength/courage.


@nocute, I know you are not homophobic, by the way, it's just that you were using the reasoning of The Enemy.


Adding my 2 cents to the vocabulary debate...

There is a linguistic phenomenon called metaphor, in which a word with one meaning is used instead of another with a different meaning (I'm being willfully pedantic here). As Adam @ 24 pointed out, "The fact that we use these words and phrases in negative ways exemplifies how sexually inhibited our culture is". The fact that those words are somewhat "taboo" is what gives the metaphor its strength. Once the culture becomes more sex-positive, these usages will most probably fade. I think it's more efficent to work on the culture than on the vocabulary if we wish to change the latter.

Also, as Calliope stated @ 18, "Change is the only inevitable thing with language". Once we get rid of those metaphors, new ones will be coined using terms that society will find offensive at that moment. It's only when no one finds anything offensive anymore that this process will stop. In other words: never.

Lava @ 40 - All languages tend toward phonological simplification. This is an example of regressive assimilation, when the second sound imparts some (or all) of its characteristics to the first one to make the pronounciation less arduous.


@cocky, it was just an awkward usage in an otherwise excellent post, and you get the point NoCute is making, so why jump on this one thing and ignore everything else?

The fact is, an asshole is not genitalia. It's not. Neither are the other regions of the body that we use in sex (mouth, breasts, hands) which include no reproductive function. The point isn't what you can do with various body parts. Penises are for sex, but they also expel urine. Vaginas are for sex but they also birth babies. So sure you can make the argument that assholes are for sex just like hands and mouths and breasts, but they aren't genitalia. The point here is that since everyone on the planet has an asshole (unlike a penis or a vagina) they are not gendered and therefore the slurs associated with them carry none of the gendered baggage that genitalia does.

Now if you want to make an argument that "asshole" as a slur carries homophobic baggage, then please do so. NoCute has thoroughly explained how pussy, cunt, dick, etc all carry misogynistic, patriarchal and sex-shaming connotations. You can do the same with "asshole" and explain why you think it's actually loaded with anti-gay connotations. Not saying you are wrong- maybe there's something there that I've never considered. But don't instead willfully misunderstand an awkward turn of phrase and start nit-picking at that instead pointlessly.

BTW I do hope you are feeling better now regarding whatever it was that was troubling you earlier.


As for my own usage and opinions about these terms, I remember a few months CMD making similar arguments and with as much thought as NoCute just did (though if I remember correctly his main focus was more about sex negativity and shaming of genitals in general). And while I agree in theory, in practice these words role off my tongue. Since CMD talked about this, I've taken to noticing my own usage and others. Of course we are all the filter of our own experiences, so I can't claim any wide-reaching observations, but I can report that I hear dick, asshole, ass, and balls (as in "grow some balls" or "didn't have any balls") all pretty evenly used by both genders to refer to both genders. Dick, asshole and ass seem not to mean anything more than "jerk". And though it's not related to body parts, "bitch" as a verb is used pretty evenly for all genders. "Bitch" as an insult and a noun, less common in my experience but more harsh and only used towards women. Cunt, pussy- I guess I'm not around people who say these things, but I agree with NoCute that they seem to be harsher insults than dick even though 'cunt' doesn't carry much force in the UK.

TBH I'm unlikely to retrain myself to stop using any of these words, though I'm usually mindful of the context.


Pussy, prick, etc... This thread is missing several of George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can't Say on TV"... shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.


Cocksucker is a loaded term. Obviously it's a gay slur, but it's also used as a slur against women. The idea is that it's degrading to suck cock- it's degrading for a man to do it because he's doing something that a woman does? That he's being emasculated? But for a woman, it's degrading just because she's being a woman and doing what a woman does? Or is it slut shaming- like good women don't do this?

It's unfortunate because it's a really fun word to say. "Cocksucker"- those K sounds, the S in the middle, the hard finish if you are American, the way it roles if you are British. It's rhythmic. I hope we can reclaim this word. It could be like the shadow world's "cellar door".

Motherfucker- there's another one that's fun to say. I tend to say "mother fucker" a lot, but I say it as if it means "damn". Like I stub my toe and cry out "mother fucker!". I don't think I've ever called anyone a motherfucker, unless it was in jest. I was using the word as a kid before I realized what it actually implies- that someone fucks their mother.

One of the fun thing about Hindi swearing is that there are different words for fucking all members of your family- we don't make it exclusive to mothers. So you can be a motherfucker but also daughterfucker, a sisterfucker, less commonly a brotherfucker.


@EmmaLiz: I love using "motherfucker" just exclaiming over a situation that is wrong.


Traffic @35: Sure. It's a hookup app, and couples want to hook up too. I was just suggesting they'd have better luck on sites designed for that sort of thing.

As an insult, asshole/arsehole seems free of sexist baggage. Everyone has an asshole. Not everyone uses theirs for sexual purposes, but everyone does use theirs to produce shit, so I see it as an acceptable vulgar term for a person who is shitty.

Lava @40: My guess is accents. English people do not pronounce hard R's the way Americans do. An English person saying "arsehole" sounds more like "ahhshole," which Americans no doubt hear as "asshole." Also possibly some conflation with the animal -- calling someone a donkey was probably once more common than calling them a rear end. (I think Aussie people pronounce their R's softly too, I will ask one to say arsehole tonight and report back!)

DrJones @43: Yes, good point. Perhaps he didn't address it because SHATBED had already turned down the offer, but it bears repeating. The "come over immediately" demand is a huge red flag, and it is not only women who are in potential danger from dodgy people on hookup apps.


For my money, I don't think "tits" belongs in the group with the other six anymore. In fact, it's already been used on "Ally McBeal" and "Will and Grace" if not other shows...the times they are a changin'...


Being a pragmatist,he should have responded to the woman with the question: Spit roasting and/or DP and/or ?


If it's spit roasting their almost no chance of P and P contact.


The letter is a fake. " I am frankly terrified to be naked near another dude." Come on now, there is no way that he hasn't been around other naked men/boys. Like at the gym or swim classes in high school with a shared locker room and mandatory showering in a communal shower or most public pools, etc. .


Gym classes in elementary, middle, and high school. Unless there is some medical or religious reason that would excuse him from gym classes


I acknowledge that I may be wrong about the letter, but I have a hard believing that he has never been naked around other naked men/boys.


It's very different to be around other naked people in gym classes than in the confined space of a threesome. He obviously meant in a sexual context. Plenty of straight men are freaked out about being physically too close or having other contact with other men, even with their clothes on. I think the letter has about as much chance of being real as any other, and I'm surprised by all the people who think it must be fake.


locker rooms, not classes

Though my error brings up the interesting history of straight men (presumably) being naked at while swimming, which I've heard was the norm before the invention of co-ed pools.

As someone here (NoCute I think) mentioned in the other thread, a lot of what we take to be gender norms are fairly recent inventions.


Now if he had qualified with that he has never been naked around other naked men in a sexual context. Now that is believable, many men have the same issue.


EmmaLiz: I wrote 61 before 60 was posted. True baseball fans would be amused by the conjunction of 60 with 61


@59 IMO if someone writes a letter freaking out about sex they didn't have and asking if they are a homophobe that pretty much guarantees the letter isn't fake. Nobody is sick enough to fantasize about this kind of emotional torment. Also surprise Tinder threesome proposals are not exactly a rare occurrence.


Last Comment,

Possibly true, but I think there are loads of people who have some experience that most of us would just take on the chin, and then they feel special or absorbed by their own response/feelings and so they write to Dan as sort of show-and-tell. I think it's even a letter type- the usually straight, usually vanilla person who writes to Dan more for humble brag about how open minded they are with a problem that probably really did happen but isn't really a problem and didn't really cause them any distress. This guy is a variation on that IMO. Have you ever been around anyone who was overweight for a long time and then, after losing weight, suddenly started to receive positive attention for their physical appearance? It must be a life-altering experience. So he wants to brag a bit about all the game he's able to get now, his big dick, how hot he is, but he still has that self-loathing. And he's a straight dude who has just recently been invited to a threesome, something both exciting (what an achievement!) and frightening. What does he really want? We don't know. Maybe he wants validation from Dan to tell him he's not a homophobe.

Or maybe he is distressed. Maybe he wants validation from Dan to tell him that declining a threesome doesn't make him a wimp. He can still brag about all the pussy he can get, how big his dick is, etc. I think there's pressure on straight men not to turn down sex- their egos can be wrapped up in that. There's pressure on straight men to perform, can cause anxiety. This must be worse for a man who's still insecure and who until recently had a lot of trouble getting laid- sounds like his sense of sexual worth, of masculinity is tied up in his body and how attractive people find him, so what does it say about him that he's declining new sexual experiences that weren't even available to him before? He might honestly need help sorting that out.

Or sure it could be fake. But I don't think it's any more likely to be fake than a mom looking to create a fetlife account for her son or a man who's trying to talk his gf into dog fucking or a woman who wants her bf to shove worms up her pussy.


El @ 60
“Though my error brings up the interesting history of straight men (presumably) being naked at while swimming, which I've heard was the norm before the invention of co-ed pools.”
In some places like UK and US it was common for boys, even teenagers, to swim naked in public beaches and pools even when girls and women are present.
Funnily I just checked the subject this morning and came across some blurry yet descriptive b&w pics. Some point to those times as a possible inspiration to CFNM.

Japanese sento, the commonly used public bath, used to be co-ed until after WW2 when the US military forced separation.


@40 While "arsehole" is the original from whence "asshole" is derived, the use of the term "asshole" dates way back to the 1930's, at least in America. A quick search for "asshole etymology" should turn up some interesting results.

Etymology is a hobby of mine. So cool to see how language changes over time. People have been predicting the downfall of civilized language since well before English existed. (A certain passage from 63 C.E. comes to mind in which an instructor is lamenting how students don't speak proper Latin anymore. What his students were speaking - what he was complaining about - had become French.) People have been predicting the downfall of English for as long as English has existed, and yet it continues on, a brilliant bastard of a language.

So what I'm saying is, "asshole" is not new, and even if it were, that would be okay. That would be great! Chalk it down to the inexorable evolution of language, and maybe the differences between Australian/British usage and American English.


You all do know that ass is a donkey? No way will true blue Australians give up saying arse, it’s a great word. And programme is the correct spelling because it’s how the word is said. Program cuts off the full sound.


I think this might be a pronunciation difference as well. Are you putting a schwa at the end of the word? Americans don't say it like that.


@22 Yiddish is my mamaloshen (mother tongue), though I don't speak much of it. I was just saying the other day in another online forum how ridiculous it must sound to try to talk dirty in Yiddish. Sure, there are PLENTY of words for the male anatomy, but everything in Yiddish sounds like an insult, a joke, or both.

P.S. "Shtupping" is my favorite word for sex. Even fuck isn't as colorful or playful. "She wants to shtup her" sounds so much better than "She wants to fuck her."


I just realized I got @69! Who can I donate my luck to? I don't really care about sports, but the U.S. women's team is a contender. Pride parades already happened, or I would direct it that way. Any ideas?


Say Arse out loud to yourself. It is a strong word, Ass is a santized version, as I hear it. No I cry, it’s
an arse.


Calli- I failed to propose mine to Stonewall. '69, 50 years ago.


EL @ 48
The entire sexual act is often maligned, equating sex with punishment and conquer. “I’ll screw you” means you’ll be destroyed, “I’m fucked” indicates that someone knew all along their campaign violated applicable laws.


How how how have we landed in a world where some subset of people think it's totally normal to ask completely random strangers, particularly those who could be all the way across a major city or in a somewhat far-flung suburb (I find this a little more reasonable when people are, say, at the same party or bar), for sex, immediately, that includes an unadvertised third party (so, two complete strangers on LW's part), at six in the fucking morning, when most people are sleeping/getting ready for work? And not just normal, but somehow so thoroughly normalized that it's basically obligatory, so LW feels bad about saying no? This is the same loss of narrative rationality that has a multiple-rapist fake-rich scam-artist reality TV star as POTUS, right? Or is it just that I'm getting ever older and find our new norms even more baffling than the old ones?

Americans say "ass" due to phonetic mimmicry (particularly since education was far from universal during the colonial period and English orthography wasn't standardized to even the limited degree it is now) and orthographic standardization based on the received phonetics (also why we dropped the extraneous U's from words like "color" and spell "draught" as "draft" - in the latter case, the "gh" was orthographically used to indicate a voiceless glottal fricative that has been dropped from many dialects of English, including English ones, with an "f" sound - voiceless labiodental fricative - substituted instead). The dominant American accent(s) do(es)n't make a phonemic distinction between the slightly different vowel sounds in the pronunciation of "ass" and "arse" in English English.

"Pussy" means "cat" - all of the various slang uses are derived from association with cats. Per "coward", it refers to cats' tendency to run away from strangers; per "vulva", it comes from an asociation between femininity (and feminine sexuality in particular) and felinity (women were seen as sexually cunning and predatory, similar to cats, with idealized femininity encompassing a lot of adjectives we also use to describe cats e.g. lithe, slinky, limber, cunning, even hedonistic). The idea that "pussy" suggests weakness, and the association of femininity with weakness, are both EXTREMELY recent phenomena, and I strongly advocate that people reject that gendered shit rather than insist that references to cats are inherently gendered or insulting. On the other hand, like BDF, I'm not sure why people don't find the two-syllabe word "coward" servicable and resort to euphemisms in the first place.


*BDF AND nocutename, who brought it up first


I'll add that if you're going for "coward" but want that extra touch that implies you despise someone (or their action), you can always say "chickenshit." Gender-free, and indisputably nasty.

@74 @John: I now have a little bit of a crush on you.


@35: Couples already can clearly ID as sunch on Tinder - it has profiles, and the photo can be of a couple. Granted, that's not as useful as a fliterable category, but I'd love a norm where people actually read profiles on dating services, if only to avoid this sort of thing. The woman was being intentionally disingenuous to try to attract interest from single men who aren't interested in threesomes (even if she actually did say this in her profile, a photo of a single person when the profile is for two people is false advertising, especially given that the photo is the primary thing people see) - she's/they're definitely the asshole/s in the scenario.


John, I know that first pussy meant cat, and from that association we get the slang for the genitalia, as you describe. But I've never heard before that pussy = coward BEFORE it meant female genitalia. You're saying that people used "pussy" as slang for coward in reference to cats BEFORE people used "pussy" as slang for genitalia, right? That the two slang meanings have a common cause and that they aren't related to one another in the other way? If that's true it's fascinating, and I have no reason to doubt you, but I wonder how you know this?

Re: arse/ass, until this moment, I did not know that arse came first. I thought it was just a slang way of saying ass. I knew ass meant donkey as well of course, and I always wondered why the word for donkey and the word for butt was the same. So if I'm understanding the conversation, this means that (originally anyway, as languages evolve) ass means donkey (not butt) and arse meant butt (not donkey) and the fact that the two sound the same to Americans led to Americans saying ass for both and discarding arse altogether? If that's the case, wow, pretty cool.


Next thing you know, some linguist is going to chime in to explain that "having balls" originates from the forgotten history of berserkers moonlighting as jugglers- nothing to do with testicles at all.


You guys ought to get together and make a podcast on the etymology of vulgar slang words. Throw in lots of nerdy stuff in between very descriptive naughty language and a general discussion of sex acts, and I guarantee it could be a hit.


@80 I have a book recommendation for you, EmmaLiz. It's called "The F-Word" by Jesse Sheidlower. It's about exactly what it sounds like - the word "fuck." It's a comprehensive history of the word "fuck" since it first entered the English language, with an amazing introductory essay on the history and usage of the word. As Spock would say, "Fascinating."


But my favorite book ever on the topic of language is Kory Stamper's "Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries" (https://korystamper.wordpress.com/word-by-word/) It's a hilarious, amazing memoir/etymology book/explanation of dictionary writing and publishing.

Kory Stamper is a former associate editor at Merriam-Webster and one of my favorite writers. As I said in my "Blind Date with a Book"/staff recommends blurb when I worked at Barnes & Noble (which was until four days ago), "You'll never laugh harder about the dictionary." Or learn more. For example: pumpernickel originally meant "fart goblin" in a dialect of German. !!

If you're not into books for whatever reason, she has an amazing blog on the topic of language, etymology, dictionaries, etc. - "Harmless Drudgery" (https://korystamper.wordpress.com/) She also has a great podcast with Steve Kleinedler, another dictionary editor, called "Fiat Lex"(https://fiatlex.podbean.com/). It's so good, you guys.


Publisher's Weekly called Word by Word "witty, sly, occasionally profane." What more can you ask for?


“Ars” means “shepherd” in Arabic, commonly used slang for “pimp.”
It started because of the supposed “sheep” the dude was “herding,” probably not the shy lesbian type we discussed here last week.
Nowadays ars is used as a derogatory term for someone being a loud, vulgar arsehole.


EmmaLiz @78, John @74:
My OED has puss, meaning cat, as far back as the 1530s, and pussy meaning "applied to a girl or woman; also, a finicky, old-maidish, or effeminate boy or man; a homosexual" as usage/meaning going back to the 1580s. The sexual meaning as slang for vulva it states as coming into use far later, e.g., 1800s. And then there's a sentence from 1842: "I walked up very carelessly among the soldiers...and concluded they could never fight with us. They appeared to me to be too pussy." But the verb, "to behave or move like a cat," e.g., "You don't want to be pussying around," has its first example in 1943.

So I dunno. It looks to me like it goes cat -> association with women -> association with weakness, i.e., like the negative gender connotations are the correct ones, historically. But I'd be happy to see indications otherwise? And I admit I'm not positive how my OED works; I'm under the impression they list earliest known usage, but I could be wrong.


@85 The OED does generally list first known usage, but the OED has also been known to be pre-dated (meaning someone found something earlier) on occasion.


@7, @33 Yes, why does he keep bringing it up? Is him being uncomfortable somehow good for business?


Thanks Calli, Ciods and CMD. I could listen to you guys talk about stuff like this all day.

Regarding why Dan keeps "bringing it up"- here's my generous interpretation, something I thought about the last few times he "brought it up". From his point of view, he is perhaps getting emails or messages from people who are bringing it up first. So he's responding, not bringing it up himself. From our point of view (and that of his general readership and basically everyone outside of his head), he's the one bringing it up. But maybe it doesn't "feel" that way to him. My less generous interpretation is that it's good for clicks or he's got some bone to pick that we are overlooking or misinterpreting (maybe we're not the target audience).

Back to the more interesting topic, I didn't know the OED listed oldest usages of words. Fascinating, indeed. Also thanks for the reading recs, Calli!


CMD @84, you think this Arabic word is connected to the English word, or you being a smart arse.


@56 silly. context matters. those kids in the gym aren't sporting hard dicks and moments away from fucking.


@CalliopeMuse: I love "Word by Word!"


@78 re: Pussy. It's implying that someone is a girl. Not in any trans sense, but a purely metaphorical sense. "You have the weak heart, cowardice, and timidity of a young girl"

Pussy's are cats, but cat's aren't pussies, you know what I mean?


@80: I refer you to the Slate podcast, Lexicon Valley. It's been hosted by John McWhorter for a few years now, and though he's an actual linguist, I am not wild about him as a podcaster. But go back to the first two seasons or so and listen to co-hosts Mike Vuolo and Bob Garfield. And now imagine adding Dan into the mix. That is a podcast I'd make sure to listen to.


Re: whether the letter is fake -- I guess my instinct was more that the threesome offer was fake than that the letter was fake. I can see someone having this reaction to an unlikely proposal.

Lava @67, I have never heard anyone say programmy. It always has two syllables: pro-gram. The Americanised spelling is simply phonetic.

Calliope @69: An apt post to land on the magic number! We Brits say "shag," I like that term as a less vulgar alternative to fuck.

John @77, agree entirely. Great post @74 too. Some fascinating stuff here, thanks to all the etymology buffs!


No Fan, it’s programme not programmy.


Lava @95: But it's two syllables, right? Or pro-gram-uh (schwa) as Calliope @68 suggests? I have always heard it pronounced just as pro-gram here in the UK, which invented the language.


I learned recently that a lot of the distinct American spellings were not done purely out of simplification to a more phonetic version, as you might guess (e.g., the dropping of "u"s), but were in fact done intentionally during and shortly after the American Revolution as a way to further distinguish us from the Brits. This is apparently also true of those past tenses we do differently, burned vs. burnt, etc. Spelling as politics! Who knew!


Bi @96, I dunno, I think in British English this word has a longer "mm" sound on the end (no schwa). In that respect, the pronounciation is more similar to French, which is where the -mme suffix came from. It's subtle though.


Interesting, Margarita @98- thanks.


Lava @ 89
Arabic and English are not that connected though there’s plenty Arabic influence in Spanish, a reminder of long-gone days when we all prospered together in the Iberian Peninsula.
So yes, nothing but my usual smarty panties self in this arsy thing, though I do find it fascinating that two words that sound the same come from different languages and geographies, have different original meanings, yet end up meaning almost the same thing nowadays.
Language is a virus from outer space.