Euphemisms B – Let’s get down tonight

Are you doing a little dance? Making a little love? Or just generally getting down tonight? Let's talk about some of the phrases that we use to talk about getting intimate...

Visual Description: White woman with salt and pepper asymmetrical hair signs outside. There is a clear blue sky, a fence running at a diagonal behind her, and a small garden in the distance. There are no sounds from the video except for a background track of happy music.

So… this video is going to be focused on an adult theme. We're going to be talking about sex. I remember that song growing up saying “let's talk about sex baby, let's talk about you and me, let's talk about all the good things and bad things that can be, let’s talk ABOUT sex”... but the problem is that we don’t actually talk about it.

We just assume everything is okay or it's fine to proceed or you may be trying to figure out mutual attraction. But when wh use so many euphemisms, it makes it harder to understand clearly what each of you wants and what you are agreeing to or even if you are looking for different things at the end of the day.

So, I want to know more about your euphemisms (and I want to be clear here that I am not saying that this is the sign for euphemism, just clarifying the concept) but what options are out there? I know a plethora of English options already - some cutesy, some sweet, some incredibly inventive, some funny and still other ridiculous. But that’s just what I know about in English. What happens in ASL?

Here are some examples that I've compiled from English: making love, (here's a potential sign for that concept), making whoopie, which just makes you say, I’m sorry, what? What does that mean? Where does that come from?!?) but at the same time, seems to refer specifically to having sex.

I’m going to check my list now because I am such a fun (and spontaneous!) person I had to make a list to talk about sex euphemisms!

Here’s another example that uses the same song I was talking about before. Remember the TV show Friends? Who was it? Oh right, it was Chandler talking to Monica I think, but that’s not the point of this story - and Monica asked “what do you think they are going to do?” and Chandler replied “Oh, I don’t know, I think they might do a little dance. Make a little love. But just generally get down tonight.” It’s funny, that phrase “get down tonight” can be used for either sex or for dancing! It’s so versatile!

Another example... :fade to white: Well, it seems my computer got a little embarrassed while talking about sex too! It got too hot so I had to take it inside to wait for us both to cool down and now we are ready to rock and roll again. It looks like many people get embarrassed when you start talking about sex, even my very own computer!

Moving right along, here are a few more examples to talk about sex. The next one is “to make the beast with two backs”. It seems to be more of a phrase you would talk about other people with such as “what are they doing over there?”, “I think that they are making the beast with two backs.” Where this visual comes from I have no real idea, but maybe it comes from having a tangle of limbs and animalistic grunting happening at the same time.

There are other things we use as well and here are two other specific examples I can think of offhand. One of these started with a particular field such as making movies, TV shows, plays, etc. I want to clarify for a moment that this is a negative phrase. We will sometimes talk about a casting couch. Of course, if English isn’t your first language or you read it out of context, it may be hard to recognize its connection to sex - but there definitely is one! It is 100% related to sex! But it talks more about a specific type of sexual dynamic. How the story typically goes is that if a person has power or authority - for example, directors, producers, movie studio execs, etc - may use that power to coerce actors/actresses to perform sexual acts to try to get a job. It’s as if they are saying “Oh you want to be an actress? Pretty little thing like you? Why not come a little closer?” and then the execs might start taking them out or getting them all tangled up to get the actress to do what they wanted all along. They could say “if you aren’t willing to go along with this and have sex with me, then you are shit out of luck and all on your own - but if you’re willing to do what I want, I’m willing to give you the career you want.” That’s the general concept here. This is also used for career advancement or better opportunities. This means that people who have power have used that power to force others to comply with having sex with them in order to give them what they want.

Again, if English is not your native language or if you are just reading it without clear context, it would be almost impossible to see what a term like “casting couch” really means. “Casting” is what happens when you have a role for a play and pull in people to audition for the role(s). A casting call could have a lot of people come to try out for the roles and they are either “cast” or placed into the role or released back into the wild. The reason that this is called a casting “couch” comes from the idea of being on the couch together (and whatever sex acts happen there) in order to have the person in charge decide to hire you or not that way.

This concept started in the field of TV, plays and movies, but it can also now be applied to other fields as well. This is how we talk about people who use power to get sex, or people who use sex in order to get power.

There was a horrible scandal with this that came out a few years back. To be clear, this has been happening for a very long time, but it really made the headlines not that long ago. This was the impetus behind the #metoo movement. It came from people who experienced a boss or other person in authority telling them that they would need to have sex in order to get that promotion, or role, etc. It’s not that it is happening more now, just that more people are aware of it.

Here’s one last topic that is relevant with education and for kids. Now, I know that I said that this is an adult topic, but this is still important to mention because kids talk about sex too, and they can sometimes get their wires crossed when they start using metaphors like baseball bases. Even though we may use phrases like 1st, 2nd, 3rd base and home, who knows if we are using the same system of measurement. If I say “first base” does that mean that I am picturing the two of us holding hands as we walk together down the street? Does it mean that we will kiss? If I agree to go to first base with you and you have a different idea of what first base means - that could cause a lot of problems.

Even worse, if you don’t know what they mean by what they are saying, you may feel embarrassed or not want to seem like you don’t know what is being asked for, you may say fine without really meaning it or even being okay with what is happening, just to not appear naive or inexperienced. You may be giving permission to something that you don’t even understand. That’s a big problem too.

It’s crucial to talk about these kinds of things within sex education as well. It may seem a bit silly to talk about and I get that, I really do, it seems silly to talk about euphemisms within sex ed, but it’s vital to know what you are talking about, to understand what these things mean, and then two people (or whoever is involved) can make well-informed decisions together through mutual understanding. If one starts by putting a suggestion out there and the other doesn’t even know what that means that may lead to a “fine” that isn’t really a “yes” or a “no” when it could have been something they were fine with, if only they had understood what it meant.

Likewise, if a potential partner proposes something to you, and you aren’t quite sure what it means, you don’t have enough information to make a reasonably informed decision for yourself, and your partners can’t make it for themselves either.

I know that this seems like a silly or light-hearted topic, I really do, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important to talk about.

Thanks for watching and see you next time!

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