“Cock” vs “Down There”
When I ask students what they call a penis and a vagina in everyday words, two responses stand out: “cock” and “down there.”
The difference is telling. Cock: Cocky, proud, boastful, swaggering, self-satisfied. Image of a strutting cock, er, rooster.
But “down there”? Unspeakable. Embarrassing. Shameful.
Male sexuality is something to brag about, while female sexuality is something to hide.
The difference is reflected in Zestra’s difficulty getting ads on TV for a product that arouses women’s sexuality – while songs of “Viva Viagra” fill the airwaves.
The New York Times reports that TV networks, national cable stations, radio stations, and Web sites like Facebook and WebMD have all resisted airing ads for Zestra. Some agreed to broadcast ads in the early morning when most people are asleep. Others wanted disclaimers: “Not for people under 18.” Most felt that no amount of tweaking could make the ad suitable.
Many stations want to remove the words sex and arousal. Yet “An erection lasting more than four hours” is O.K.?
The manufacturer believes the resistance comes from our culture’s discomfort with women’s sexuality.
Meanwhile, normal processes of the vagina are shrouded in secrecy. Ads for one brand of sanitary napkins simply said, “Modess … Because.” Ok, that was the 70s. But even today women are embarrassed when tampons fall from their purses. Ever hear anyone say they had a “visit from Aunt Flow” when their period started?
Because female sexuality is deemed dirtier, more evil and more unspeakable, insulting slang for the vagina packs a bigger punch than slang for a penis.
Call a man a dick, and you’ve called him an idiot. Dictionary definition of dork: a whale’s penis. So a dork is a giant penis – an even bigger idiot.
But a cunt cuts deeper, moving into deeper disgrace.
Whether “down there” or “cunt,” it’s just degrees of shame.
We think that women will enjoy sex as much as men? In this atmosphere? It’s just the tip of the iceberg.
A version of this article was originally posted on Sept. 30, 2010
Posted on March 28, 2011, in body image, feminism, gender, men, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged cock, culture, feminism, gender, language, men, Modess...Because, sex and sexuality, sexism, slang for penis, slang for vagina, Viagra, women, Zestra. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.