Forum: Sexuality in Middle-earth

Discussing: Sexual euphemisms in M-e

Sexual euphemisms in M-e

Any thoughts? I've tried researching this on the web without much luck (keyword issues) and all I turned up in my dictionaries was a Webster's 2nd definition of 'member' as obs., 'a private part'. 'Cock', 'manhood', 'dick', don't even get a mention...of course my dictionary *is* 45 yrs old, but it's not helping much from an etymological perspective. Tolkien, for some reason, neglected to provide us with suitable words, so I'm looking for something with a non-Latin root, or simply some older euphemisms. I mean c'mon, it was probably the first thing men named! So...has anyone done some thinking or research on this issue they'd care to share? Any other tips or links on writing a slash sex scene that isn't too unbearable appreciated. I couldn't find a 'how to' thread anywhere. And if I go read good LOTR slash, it's days before I can get those character's out of my head & mine back in! ;), Elemmíre



Re: Sexual euphemisms in M-e

Well, I don't know how helpful this is in actually writing Lotr slash, but it's quite funny... In the eighteenth century John Cleland wrote an erotic novel called 'Fanny Hill' and talked about male genitals in terms of machinery - e.g. 'machine of pleasure' etc. Tolkien probably wouldn't like that though, with his opinions on industrialisation. I tend to just avoid naming names when I write explicit slash scenes, which can be seen either as a cop out or a challenging literary exercise in evasion.



Re: Sexual euphemisms in M-e

Personally, when I write explicit slash or het, my mantra is: if I have to name the parts in such explicit detail that I *must* have a euphemism, I'm doing something wrong. I need to change the "angle" of view so that I don't see a sex act in need of a blow-by-blow description just in order for it to make any sense. I find suggestion is more powerful than outright description, and so tend to rely on that and strategic breaks that act as a curtain, cutting the audience off when the scene has accomplished its purpose. That said, the only term I've seen used in graphic slash that didn't cause me to smirk, groan, or laugh outright, was "member"—obviously, this may not be the case for other people, but it's just so neutral sounding to me, that if it's not used too often, it doesn't trip my bad euphemism alarm. I mean c'mon, it was probably the first thing men named! Ummm... yes, it might well have been, but the christeners of said parts likely didn't have literary usability in mind. So unless you're writing some sort of pissing contest that evolves into a sexual encounter, I'm not sure that sort of realism is going to be terribly helpful. You know, this topic did come up before in one of the older threads, and Meg gave a link to an absolutely hilarious analysis of the euphemism problem. I seem to recall it's fairly near the beginning of a thread. Hang on and I'll go look... Edit: That took longer than I thought it would. Go to No sex in LOTR?. Be sure to follow the link Meg Thornton provides, as it is absolutely, gut-bustingly funny. Skimming through, I realize the conversation is less geared towards giving out euphemisms than the problems that they present, but it may still be of some interest to you.



Re: Sexual euphemisms in M-e

Hi Elemmíre, in fact there are workshops here at HASA about writing erotic stories, both the heterosexual and the homosexual kind where details like that are discussed. Just have a look at the Workshop Section and you will find the workshops no problem. We have also done an exercise about writing sexual scenes at the writers' workshop "There and Back Again". We quoted an essay there about just the problem you mentioned. Perhaps you might want to have a look at it: exercise #5, explicit discussion. With the terms for sexual organs in Middle-earth, I think it would depend largely on the race you are talking about and the social circumstances of the persons involved - farmers tend to use other words than noble men and warriors. I think that you can come up with quite interesting and tasteful terms if you work from the respective cultural background. E.g. hobbits and gardening/farming: terms like "plough" and "furrow" come to mind; with dawrves "hammer" and "forge", for the Rohirrim it is easier, as there are Old English terms for all relevant body parts and activities and with a little fantasy and a dictionary of Sindarin you will find lovely words for Elvish bodies (I always use "thela"/"spear point" for the male member... *g*). I hope that helps a bit. Yours JunoMagic



Re: Sexual euphemisms in M-e

My thanks to you all! Elemmire



Re: Sexual euphemisms in M-e

I would check out Chaucer and other Medieval European lit.  There are lots of sexual references in The Canterbury Tales that might provide you with some ideas.  Tolkien was a medievalist and he had done quite a bit of scholarly research on Chaucer.  Also, Tolkien intended The Lord of the Rings to be similar in style to a Medieval epic.  That means he wanted it to be structurally and thematically similar to things like Beowulf.  While it is therefore a very different sort of literature than the Canterbury Tales, the euphemisms Chaucer uses would not sound ridiculously out of place.  Chaucer is still writing within that context of chivalry and courtly love, even if he is making fun of it. 
You just have to deal with the Middle English. 



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