“Dirty Talk.” Does it Really Make Sex Hot?
People have a really hard time talking openly and comfortably about sex. When I ask a new couple to tell me about their sexual relating, they not only stumble, they actually don’t know how to answer. The words don’t come easily.
In contrast, everyone knows how to talk dirty. Not that everyone desires it, but the words are available if wanted.
Why this difference?
I have answered this in chapter 6 of my Transformational Fiction novel, Bring Love and Sex Together. It is the story of Grace’s explorations of sex in class and in bed. She discovers how both genders avoid feeling almost universal sexual shame.
“I talked with one of my teachers, a social worker who supervised social workers at the U, about doing a paper on conversations with friends and anyone else about sexual shame. She said that was a great idea, and I could use Hastings’ book on sexual shame as a backdrop for my interviews.
I started with Ginger, a good friend who would tell me anything. We were both psych majors, so she already knew a lot about psych. I invited her to meet in an empty room in the psych dept. that my teacher had arranged for me. She thought it was better than meeting at one of our homes or at a coffee shop.
My first question was always: “Can you talk openly about sex?” Ginger immediately said, “No, are you kidding? I’m afraid that people will feel uncomfortable, and especially a guy I’m dating. I can talk about it to turn us both on, that’s different. Like dropping in the conversation that I like oral, but I say it with a kind of aroused sound, you know what I mean?” Yes, I knew what she meant. But I had gone a lot farther than she did.
“What about with friends? Can you talk about liking oral, and which way, and if you masturbate?”
“Shit, no,” she said with a laugh. “I’ve heard a few girls do that in a matter of fact way, but it always seems strange. Actually, I admire it, I wish I could. It’s those girls who can say all sorts of socially unacceptable things with no difficulty. Like telling a teacher when they have a fact wrong. She doesn’t put them down, just delivers information.”
“Like she has no shame?” I ask.
“Yeah, that’s it, isn’t it?” Ginger said. “They aren’t afraid of how people will respond. If the teacher doesn’t like it, it’s okay. Yeah, they don’t question themselves, or their perceptions. They know they are right, period. Or even if they are wrong, they can easily admit it. Those people could talk about sex, too. Makes sense. It’s just facts, right? They wouldn’t get aroused by talking. And they wouldn’t be put off by it. They would be curious and want to know.”
This helped me understand. All of us have degrees of discomfort when confronting things that make others uncomfortable. And sex has the added piece that you could get aroused by it. This was complicated.
I talked with five more girls, and then decided it was time to talk with boys. I announced my subject in my psych class and asked if any males would be willing to be interviewed about sexual shame. I saw an example of how some men manage their shame right off. They laughed and joked, one guy saying, “Sure Baby, I’ll talk with you about sex. When can we start?” If I had asked for volunteers to talk about feelings about your pet, there would have been no joking.
Anne Stirling Hastings says that sexual jokes are about handling sexual shame. She wrote about seeing an Eddie Murphy performance where he walked around the stage saying sexual slang words and rubbing himself. People laughed over really nothing. She had healed her shame to the extent that she didn’t find it funny. She wasn’t a prude, she wasn’t offended. She could just look, just see the audience, just observe the shame and it’s management.
That’s what I was doing in my class. I had the objectivity to see that they were reacting to their shame. They were using practiced methods of introducing humor to prevent feeling it. When Hastings heard Eddie Murphy say, “butt fucking” several times, and the audience laughed, she could just hear the words, butt, and fucking. Put together it was a sexual act of putting a penis into an anus. Just facts. They wouldn’t have laughed if he had said, chocolate cake eating, and acted like he was putting something in his mouth. Of course not.
Not a single guy came up to me after class to volunteer. Now what was that about? So I assembled guys that I knew, and that my friends, knew who were willing to help.
The first one sat across from me, looking about as frozen as Alex had. I started with my question, “Can you talk openly about sex?”
“Sure,” he said. “What do you want to know.”
“Who do you talk with about it? A girlfriend? Friends?”
“Yeah, I talk with my girl. We decide when we’re going to do it, and plan it. Most of the time, anyway. But we don’t need to talk much because we do the same things, and we know how. You know, kiss, feel up, go down on, go in, and done.”
“Can you go into any more detail than that?” I ask.
“Why? There isn’t any need. Oh, do you want me to do that with you? But we aren’t lovers, there isn’t any reason for us to talk about it.”
“I’m asking questions because it’s the purpose of this talk. It’s for the paper I’m writing.”
“Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize you wanted more. I’m not comfortable with that.”
“Do you know why it would make you uncomfortable?”
“It doesn’t make me uncomfortable, I just don’t want to. There’s no reason to. Sex is something between a man and a woman, right? Except for occasional porn.”
He was moving out of his chair, and it was clear that his sexual shame wasn’t going to let him talk with me. How was I going to get information if they couldn’t talk about talking?
I had a similar experience with four more guys, and then a different kind of man showed up. He exuded flirtatiousness, I suppose it was sexual energy. He sat down, and said, “Well, what do you want to know? I love to talk about sex.”
He had already answered my first question about talking openly about sex. “Can you talk with your girl friend about what you like, and what she likes?”
“You bet,” he started. “I love to tell her what I like, how good it feels when she sucks me, how I want her to move her tongue on my dick. I tell her how to position herself in the bed, too, to show off her tits, and taunt me with seeing her and not letting me down there yet. I love doggie style, and she loves it too, we talk about that during phone sex when we can’t be together, when we both jerk off.”
Okay. This wasn’t ‘talking clean’ and bringing up sexual shame. This was ‘talking dirty’ and feeling no shame.
“Thanks for coming in,” I said as I stood up indicating that I was done.
“Hey, wait, I got lots more. I can talk about it for hours.” he protested.
“Thanks, but I have everything I need,” I said. I wished that I knew how to interview him so that I might understand how talking like that with the sexual overtones might be serving to avoid the sexual shame he carried. Or did he really not carry any? Or was he sexually addicted, and got off on talking with anyone in sexual ways? I had so much to learn.
Discover what more Grace learns in Bring Love and Sex Together, my Transformational Fiction novel. She puts together a women’s group so women can talk openly about their sex lives. They experiment with their partners to learn what might really be going on.