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English 212
2002 First Paper
On Serendip

The Difficulties of Putting a Sexual Subgroup into Language

Jessica Tucker

As I began to work on this paper, the inadequacies of language to fully capture something sexual, or actually anything, were once again reinforced for me. Not because the sexual subgroup I am exploring has difficulty putting sex into language. On the contrary, they effortless put sex into language, in various moments and ways everyday (dependent on their moods, location, and audience). It is the addiction of all these moments to create a sum of the total way in which they put sex into language, which I am having difficulty putting into language.
Much of this difficulty arises from trying to categorize my sexual subgroup. This is a categorization that will be your first real introduction to them. I find that all the words and phrases I develop to describe them have some connotation or imagery that they invoke that does not accurately or completely capture the women who make up this sexual subgroup. Therefore they present an inaccurate first impression.
So I find that perhaps the best way for me to introduce my sexual subgroup is with language that supplies information, but is somewhat detached from the group and from vivid imagery. The sexual subgroup (and how they put sex into language) that I am examing is young heterosexual women at an all women's college (Bryn Mawr) who are not currently sexually active.
Many of these women have never been sexually active, but the term "virgins" in many ways seems inaccurate. (Firstly the word virgin causes problems because some of these women are no longer virgins. They are however not presently sexually active, which does not return them to a state of virginity.) Virgin has numerous connotations: white, pure, innocent, sweet and lacking sexual knowledge. There is, however, nothing virginal or innocent about how these women put sex into language. They are explicit and sometimes vulgar in their language. Both the women who have little sexual experience and those who are more sexually experienced talk explicitly about sexual acts that the antiquated stereotypical virgin would know nothing about. These women talk about "getting' a piece of ass," "being fucked" or for that matter "fucking" and also "ridden hard and put away wet." Explicitly and sometimes vulgarly is not the only way these women put sex into language, but in general there is no flowery discussion of making love as one might expect from innocent virgins.
To remove some of these connotations of the word virgin, I also considered labeling the subgroup "horny virgins." However this creates an image of desperately sex deprived girls who just want to be fucked. This is not the case because if these women wanted to fuck, they would. Obviously they are longing for something more than just a meaningless fuck buddy or a one-night stand. Even though the majority of their sexual language deals with this kind of imagery it appears that these women want more. More not necessarily being the flowery overly romantic ideals of making love, but more being more substantial than just the blatant sexual acts of which they speak. If these women just wanted sex, they would not bemoan the availability of quality men.
Also the term "horny" implies a vulgarity that is not universally present in the way these women put sex into language or even in the women themselves. Yes, some of the language they use is quite base and crude, but these women also put sex into language in discussions that completely lack vulgarity. They talk about their sexual desires and experiences, masturbation, sexual acts they find appealing (and those they do not), and simply what they enjoy (and do not enjoy). This sexual language is self-exploratory (where they discover themselves as sexual beings), but it is also a form of sharing their sexual experience, putting sex (as they have experienced) into language.
These women not only put sex into language explicitly, but also suggestively and implicitly. A statement can be added with a suggestive eyebrow waggle, a sway to the hips, or a tongue motion. They use not only the language of speech, but also body language to express the sexual. It is not uncommon for them to play footsy with each other, rub suggestively against each other, or to pose in sexually suggestive positions. Also the sexual experiences that they express are not limited to the heterosexual. Their expressions can often be either homosexual in nature or have homosexual undercurrents. One girl might stroke another's thigh and then scream out her friends name in a mimicry of orgasmic bliss. Often it seems that some of their sexual expression is for the purpose of pushing the limits of sexual expression and what people are comfortable with.
The way these women put sex into language (both through speech and body language) is related to the situation at the time. When the expression is most explicit and the body language most suggestive, the women are usually being humorous and joking around with their friends. In general when these women are putting sex into language (whether jokingly or seriously) they are in a more private location and a more intimate group. Their sexual language is more likely found in the dorm room than on Lancaster Ave.
The sexual language of these women is both explicit and implicit, both humorous and earnest, both heterosexual and homosexual, both knowledgeable and inexperienced. They effortless express the sexual in these various ways everyday. If you were to only witness one moment or one aspect of how they put sex into language, you would not have a very complete or complex understanding of how these women put sex into language. The polarities of their sexual expression make it difficult for me to put it into language, but are also intrinsic to understanding them.

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