Always order steak on the first date.
I usually never take dating advice from my sister, who insists that boys are best wooed with cruelty and humiliation. (It weakens their sense of self and breeds dependency.) But she swears by the seductive powers of a rare T-bone. Forgoing the sea bass sends a signal: “Heya!! I’m low-maintenance, down-to-earth and may be willing to transgress other conventions of my gender. Like chastity.”
When a girl eats steak on a date, is she savoring succulent chunks of metaphorical man-meat? As undercooked beef juice drips from the corner of her mouth, is she really saying: I love the cock?
My mother calls such violations of traditional femininity “inappropriate.” Short skirt: inappropriate. Sex: inappropriate. Staying out late, unorthodox piercings, sugary cereals: inappropriate. Even the “naked baby dance,” a choreographed routine my sister and I would perform for our parents when we were freshly bathed and not yet dressed was one day deemed inappropriate by our formerly adoring audience.
Maybe we weren’t babies anymore, so it was a little weird, but that one word strangled our Dionysian pre-pubescence. We got bathrobes for Christmas and grew modest. I had eaten the forbidden fruit, but got really bad indigestion. Propriety never agreed with me. It took me until the second semester of college to rediscover the sweet, noble savagery of public nudity.
My columns are an attempt to shit out the seeds of shame. “Claire, we found your articles,” my mother said solemnly over the phone last month. “Did you know they’re on The Computer?” (“The Computer” is what my mom calls the Internet.) “They’re vulgar.” She lowered her voice. “You used the word ‘hand job.’”
I’d never heard my mother say “hand job” before. If she reads this article, she’ll probably find it inappropriate, too, because I use the word “cock.” Twice. And “hand job” four times for no real reason. Then again, you don’t need reason for hand jobs, you just need feeling. That’s what my ninth-grade boyfriend told me.
Maybe my mother’s right. On a date, a guy may want the sexually liberated carnivore, but for long-term love does he want a lady? The kind of girl who, when Googled, doesn’t count “hand job” among her hits? (Claire Gordon also comes up as a femicunt involved in the Jew-conspiracy and a British actress who’s had bit parts in low-budget erotica. Guess which one refers to me!)
But it’s hard to be the appropriate girl in a world fraught with sexual symbolism: ice cream cones, hot dogs, lollipops, popsicles, fudgsicles, creamsicles, whipped cream, string cheese, bananas, cherries, chocolate-dipped strawberries, bubblegum, hard candy, hot fudge sundaes. A girl can’t innocently suck on a straw or apply lip gloss without enduring the constant projection of fellatio.
Penises are everywhere, but where are the vaginas? We don’t even have the vocabulary to discuss them. It’s impossible to find words universally palatable. Walgreens thinks “Feminine Hygiene” is a polite label for their tampon stock, while I think equating “feminine” and “vaginal” is really creepy. Potato, potahto. Then there’s the trendy vajayjay, which sounds like a fast-tempo swing dance. “Gee, Sonny, that Vajayjay’s a real gas!”
There’s the open-wound metonymy (cut, gap, gash, slash, slit, slot, hole). There’s the geological phenomena (cranny, crevice, nook, mound, valley). And the ones that, if you yell them at people on the street, may get you knifed (twat, pussy, cunt). Why are all these names so weird and crap?
Maybe it’s because women don’t talk about their privates very much, so we never came up with a non-spastic vocabulary. Or, maybe, we talk about our privates so little because we never had the words to. What came first, Daddy-o, vajayjay or not talking about your vajayjay?
A recent survey found that only 39.8 percent of males and 29 percent of females learned the correct anatomical names for male genitalia as children. I found this fact surprising; in fourth grade, I recruited 28 people to the PEN15 club. Unfortunately, the VAG1NA club would be totally obvious. Only 17.7 percent of the same men learned the correct names for female genitalia as children. And 6.1 percent of women. No child left behind, um … more like no child left in front. Of a naked person for educational purposes.
Is it too much to ask to have an awesome word for vagina? One as edgy as Obama, as artful as Clinton and as titillating as celebrity fan fiction? “Tom Cruise uses his scientology mind control to make Katie Holmes get it on with Amy Lee from Evanescence.” Like that hot.
How about “spitzer”? “My spitzer wants you.” “Vagisil: For spitzer itching.” “Gee, Sonny, that spitzer’s a real gas!”
Too Jewish? Or just inappropriate?
Claire Gordon is having her Eve Ensler moment, minus the stupid haircut.