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Is Talking About Sex Taboo For You?

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Is Talking About Sex Taboo For You?

Talking about sex is something that many people find difficult. Do you?

Do you have a name for your whatchamacallit when you do you-know-what?

Some time ago a longtime woman friend of mine told me about a brief affair she had while vacationing in Mexico. “We were in bed and I asked him how to say in Spanish what we were doing. His response was ‘We do not speak of these things.’”

After she and I laughed together, I said “Exactly what were you doing that is so unspeakable in Spanish?”  She actually blushed when she answered. “You know, we were sort of…” and she was unable to say exactly what it was, to me, her dear friend and a sextherapist to boot!

I remembered this story last week when I was discussing bedroom behavior with a man who has a reputation of a long and varied romantic life. “So how was your sex life with your long term partner?” I asked impudently.

“I thought it was okay,” he answered.

“What about her?  What did she think?” I continued to tease.

“I guess she thought it was all right,” he responded.

“You guess. You never asked?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “Nope.”

I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised. A whole lot of people find doing sexual thing a great deal easier than talking about them. I know there is a common ritual of men asking their partners “Was that good for you?” right after a romp in bed but it’s usually pro forma. They are not really asking for honest feedback and more than most women are unlikely to provide it. It’s a wonder that any couple actually do have good sex under those conditions.

Even if some intrepid soul is willing to start a “Let’s talk about our sex life together” conversation often there is a problem with vocabulary. If she uses a four letter street name for her parts or his, one of them is likely to shudder at the vocabulary. Medical terminology is just as off-putting for just as many people. “I don’t have one of those!”

If the partners are new to one another a simple question about what you call your genitals will avoid giving unintended offense.  Even if the two people are not new to each other but are new to an honest discussion of sex between them the same applies.  “I like to refer to your _____.  Is that what you call it?  Would you prefer another word?” I know pet names are common for lovers but I’m afraid I just could not take seriously anyone who referred earnestly to my “lady parts” or some such euphemism. But another woman of my age might be even more offended by her partner not using a euphemism and calling a spade a spade.

Try to imagine an experienced cook giving a recipe to a kitchen beginner: “Take some green sprigs and a few round red things and white things and put them in a you know on that heating gizmo in the kitchen in order to make this delicious soup.” Could anyone cook under those conditions? Is heating things up in the bedroom any less important?

In fact, one of the hilarious exercises we did when I first began my studies in humansexuality many years ago was one in which each of us read in a monotone from a long list of sexual slang terms to another person facing us who was to nod and listen and make some non-committal response: “Tallywhacker”. “Yes.”  “Flogging the chicken.”  “Uh Huh.” “Doing the horizontal boogie.” “Hmm.”  It would make for a great party game and it taught us a great deal of what people call sexual parts and practices, must of them very silly.

Any basic search of the Internet today will yield long lists of words for men’s body parts and women’s, and an even longer list for various sex acts–in English, (and in Spanish!), in Latin, and in street slang with various ethnic variations.  Surely anyone can find some terminology that will be comfortable to use in private.  I strongly recommend doing so–for your education and for your entertainment. The new ones you learn will make fascinating conversation over dinner with your friends and perhaps in private with your sweetie.

[Isadora Alman]

Isadora Alman, M.F.T., is a California licensed marriage and relationship therapist, a Board-certified sexologist, author and lecturer. Her syndicated sex and relationship column "Ask Isadora" ran in alternative weekly papers worldwide for 25+ years. Web surfers can find her columns on her online free interactive Sexuality Forum (link is external). She is the author of two collections of Q & A's from columns: Let's Talk Sex and Ask Isadora, as well as Sex Information, May I Help You?, a peek behind the scenes of a sex help phone line which still flourishes in San Francisco today. Doing It: Real People Having Really Good Sex is a collection of helpful hints and titillating tidbits culled from column readers and Forum web site users. Her novel Bluebirds of Impossible Paradises: A Sexual Odyssey of the 70's is out in paperback on She has also contributed chapters to several books including Herotica (Down There Press), Dick For A Day (Villard NY), The Moment Of Truth (Seal Press) and Single Woman Of A Certain Age (Inner Ocean Publishing, Inc.) Isadora has been a talk show host and frequent TV and radio talk show guest, and a lecturer and workshop leader on a variety of communications topics. She conducts her private psychotherapy practice in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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