Back on the Euphemism Express
The last time we discussed euphemisms, we were specifically addressing historical names for the male member. They were varied and many, suggesting that men of every era have enjoyed discussing their bits and pieces.
But Kalen and I participated in a discussion of a certain female part over on Smart Bitches a few months ago and the results were quite different! A reader was complaining that she was going to lose it if she read the word nubbin in a historical romance one more time. Now nubbin is not my favorite word for clitoris, by far. In fact, I don’t even like nub because it reminds me of nubbin which sounds like a child’s nickname to me. "Hey there, little nubbin! Aren’t you getting big?" I also personally don’t like button, because I picture the hero clicking it over and over again in a vain attempt to turn it on, which is just unfortunate. Still, I don’t resent a writer for using those words, because the truth is, euphemisms for clitoris are hard to come by.
Why? Well, that is just too sad to contemplate. *sigh*
Regardless, there aren’t many options, but if you’re writing hot historical romance there’s really no way around using a euphemism. The heroine, virgin or widow, simply isn’t going to know the correct word for it unless she has some very specialized occupation. Biologist, maybe, or an artist who specializes in anatomical drawings. Heck, I’d seriously doubt your hero even knows the word, though one hopes he’s aware of the object in question.
So we see the same words used over and over again, which is enough to push anyone’s buttons. *Victoria clears her throat very loudly* Speaking of. . . Here are all the historical euphemisms for clitoris I could find:
boy in the boat
little man in the boat
little shame tongue (!)
Ha! Some of those are great! Anyway, nub and nubbin aren’t there because I didn’t find them in my Sexual Slang book (Alan Richter, PhD). Little shame tongue! Love it! Those Germans are crazy.
I kind of like pearl; I’ve never used that one. Usually I describe something like "a little bundle of nerves" or "hard bud". But I do feel this lack of a good term is a problem for those of us who write details. Does anyone out there have a solution? At least with men, you can just say c*&k and be straightforward about it if you like! (And I do.)
So writers, if you get this detailed in your books, how do you work around this? (And that wasn’t even supposed to be a dirty joke, it just happened.) Have you had a heroine who'd read an early version of Our Bodies, Our Selves? Readers, have you noticed these euphemisms and is there one that grates on your nerves when you see it?