Erotica Readers & Writers Association
Home | Erotic Books | Authors Resources | Inside The Erotic Mind | Erotica Gallery
Adult Movies | Sex Toys | Erotic Music | Email Discussion List | Links

'10 Authors Insider Tips

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Have More Good Sex
I Can Do Better ...
Trying to Get the Feeling
Plotting and Planning
Character Profiles
Discovery Draft
Be Bad to Be Good
E-Book Revolution
Naked for Halloween
Sex With Pilgrims

by Louisa Burton
The Music of Words
The Balancing Act
Your Fictional World
Backstory & Foreshadowing

The Fine Art of Submission
by Shanna Germain
Nailing the Query Letter
Banish the Boring Bio
Becoming a Market Master
Become a Market Master, 2
Backstory & Foreshadowing
Enticing An Editor, Part 1
Enticing An Editor, Part 2
Contracts, Money & More

Serious about Smut
by Vincent Diamond
No More Horsing Around
Short Stuff
Selling Short Stories
Editors' Pet Peeves
Settings: Beyond Time & Place
Beating Up Your Scenes
Selling Your Books in Person
Staying in the Saddle

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Broken Rainbows
Talk the Talk
10 Commandments for Writing
Plotting to Avoid
Cover Story

'10 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
St Valentine's Day
Renaming Body Parts
Sex, Cigarettes & Erotic Fiction

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
C. Sanchez-Garcia
Kathleen Bradean
Lucy Felthouse
Neve Black
PS Haven
Tracey Shellito
Tresart L. Sioux

Cracking Foxy
with Robert Buckley
Plenty of Miles Left
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Fly the Unfriendly Skies
Coffee Time
Castrated Words
Virtual vs. Actual Romance
The View from Gallows Hill

Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
The Fashion Industry
The Same Old Same Old
Writing Porn
About the Closet
... About Spirituality
Making Sense of Religion
Worked Up About Monogamy
What's Next
All Worked Up About Nature
Still All Worked Up...

Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Holiday Ghosts
Love and Romance
An "Interracial" Epic
Trying to Make It Go Away
Sexual Etiquette
Sex and Children
People Against Bad Things
Virtual Acceptance
His Cold Eyes, His Granite Jaw
A Flash of Northern Light

Ashley Lister Submits

Diary of an Erotic Fiction Writer

Renaming Body Parts


It’s time we had an overhaul of the English language.  Not a complete overhaul.  Most of the words I’ve used so far in this column are pretty much OK.  But I think we need to rename a handful of nouns that refer to parts of the body.  Specifically, I think we should rename those nouns that refer to rude parts of the body.

I’m not saying this just to be glib.  I write erotic fiction.  I take pleasure from words and blending the physicality of real experience with the fictional fallacy of illusion. 

But I have problems with nipples.

Nipples, as a piece of flesh, are lovely things. I’m a big fan.  I’ve got a couple myself and I adore them.  I’ve known other people with nipples and I have to say I think they’re wonderful.  But they’re called ‘nipples.’  Is that just the stupidest name for one of the human body’s most adorable artefacts?  It’s like being blessed with a beautiful baby girl and christening her Grunt, Splatter or Archibald.

Legs are commonly known as legs.  I think we all knew that before I wrote that expository sentence.  But ‘legs’ is a good enough word for them.  You hear the word ‘legs’ and you don’t giggle.  Arms, feet, hands, head, appendix scar… the list could go on for all the well-named parts of the body.  And no one would ever laugh. 

But say the word ‘nipple’ and someone is bound to smirk.  I advocate that we change the word immediately. 

I think we should also change cocks.  That word has never worked for me and it no longer works for me today – although the transition has been a 180 reversal. 

Whenever I read the word ‘cock’ as a small child, especially if it was written in all innocence and referring to farmyard poultry, I would chuckle.  “The farmer got woken up by a cock.”  It was the sort of sentence that would have me wheezing for oxygen as I envisioned a farmer being roused from his sleep by the prodding and probing of a disembodied penis.  Nowadays, whenever I read the word ‘cock’ in a piece of erotic fiction, I find myself thinking of poultry.  “She took his cock in her hand and squeezed…”  In my mind’s ear, I can barely hear the poor thing clucking in poultry-style protest for the sound of my own manic laughter.

So nipples and cocks are out.  And most of the variations on cock don’t seem to have any true relationship to their referent.  Penis is clinical and unpleasant.  That final sibilant seems to hiss like a one-eyed trouser snake.  And one-eyed trouser snake is not a suitable synonym either.  Nob is hateful because it sounds so tragically short.  We men are all size-obsessed and a word that makes our main underpants filler sound insignificant is not going to win any votes.  Wang just sounds silly – and too close to ‘wank’ to be considered as a viable alternative.  So it’s agreed that we need to rename cocks.

Rectum leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.  Admittedly, we’re talking about bum holes here, which do tend to leave a nasty taste, but the word ‘rectum’ itself is a horrible piece of verbiage.  Ass and arse are both fine as terms for the buttocks.  Buttocks just sounds like a cut of meat, so I don’t care for that word.  But otherwise I’m OK discussing a character’s behind.  I never use the word ‘fanny’ but that’s because I live in the UK and it has an entirely different meaning over here.  Yet it’s impossible to sensibly discuss that little spot in the middle: the place where the sun don’t shine. 

Anus and Sphincter don’t sound pleasant.  That wasn’t meant to be a farting gag.  I mean the way the words sound when you say them aloud.  I don’t mean that they make trumpeting noises after excessive amounts of cabbage or cauliflower.  Looking at the way those two names sit on the page, it could be the name for a firm of financial specialists: Anus & Sphincter – mortgage brokers.

So, that’s another part of the body desperately in need of rebranding.  (Rebranding, that is, in the marketing sense of the word, and not ‘branding again’ with a red hot poker/branding iron.)

Clitoris is ok, I think.  I’m a man so my chances of finding one in the real world, let alone feeling the need to describe it in detail, are minimal.

However, I think that vagina will have to go.  There’s something about the central consonant (a palato-alveolar lenis consonant, to be specific) that makes it sound unpleasant.  The j sound in the centre of va-j-ina is the same grungy phoneme found in words like dirge, sludge and whinge.  And I’m sure that no one wants something reminiscent of sludge in the middle of their va-j-ina. 

None of the current alternatives to vagina is acceptable.  I’ve come to associate the C-word with a former employer.  He remains the biggest example of a C-word I’ve ever encountered.  I don’t like the word ‘pussy’ for the same reasons I have reservations about the word ‘cock.’  The scope for confusion sends my adolescent brain into giggling fits.  Minge, clunge and fun-bucket are also unacceptable alternatives.  The va-j-ina has to go.

As do testicles. 

Are you ticklish?  Would you like me to give you a test-tickle?

I know it’s a wanky gag, but it’s the one that runs through my misshapen head every time I hear the word testicles: hence the smirk.  Balls is just disconcerting.  I hear the word ‘balls’ and I think of footballs, medicine balls and beach balls.  I don’t think of a dangly pink sac hidden beneath a carpet of matted pubes.  Gonads, nads, knackers and ‘the-spunk-brothers’ are all terms that are either too medical, colloquial or just plain scary. 

So, if we’re all agreed, the body parts that need renaming include nipples, vagina, rectum, cock and testicles.  Ideally we should be numbering these parts, although that could lead to endless confusion if we’re not all working from the same list.  “He stroked his tongue against her number two whilst she squeezed both his fives.

So, if you have an alternative word that you think would be better than the one of the current bunch of inappropriate labels, I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Ashley Lister
March 2010

If you have comments or question about this column, please send them to Ashley Lister

  Read more of Ashley's Diary of an Erotic Fiction Writer in ERWA 2010 Archive.

"Ashley Lister Submits" © 2010 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.

About the Author:  Ashley Lister is a UK author responsible for more than two-dozen erotic novels written under a variety of pseudonyms. His most recent work, Swingers: True Confessions from Today's Modern Swinging Scene (Virgin Books; ISBN: 0753511355), a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his first title published under his own name.
Ashley's non-fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Forum, Chapter & Verse and The International Journal of Erotica.  Nexus, Chimera and Silver Moon have published his full-length fiction, with shorter stories appearing in anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Mitzi Szereto.  He is very proud to be a regular contributor to ERWA.
Websites: /

  E-mail this page

Search ERWA Website:

Copyright 1996 and on, Erotica Readers Association, Inc.
All Rights Reserved World Wide. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or
medium without express written permission is prohibited.

'10 Book Reviews


Apocalypse Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Bare Souls
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Women's Erotica 2010
Review by Jean Roberta

canít help the way that i feel
Review by Ashley Lister

Coming Together...C. Sanchez-Garcia
Review by Ashley Lister

Coming Together...M Christian
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Coming Together...Remittance Girl
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Erotic Brits
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Fairy Tale Lust
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Like a God's Kiss
Review by Kristina Wright

Like a Sacred Desire
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Like a Veil
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Making the Hook-Up
Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Kristina Wright

Peep Show
Review by Kristina Wright

Please, Ma'am
Review by Ashley Lister

Spark My Moment
Review by Ashley Lister

Three In One Blow
Review by Shanna Germain

Review by Ashley Lister

Erotic Novels

Backstage Passes
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Review by Ashley Lister

Fire in the Blood
Review by Jean Roberta

Freak Parade
Review by Jean Roberta

I Came Up Stairs
Review by Jean Roberta

Marianne! A Journey...
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Marketplace
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Memorial Garden
Review by Lisabet Sarai

On Demand
Review by Ashley Lister

Once Bitten
Review by Shanna Germain

Rock My Socks Off
Review by Ashley Lister

The Tower and the Tears
Review by Lynne Connolly

Sensual Romance

Coin Operated
Review by Lynne Connolly

Review by Lynne Connolly

I Spy a Wicked Sin
Review by Harriet Klausner

Libertine's Kiss
Review by Lynne Connolly

The Master & the Muses
Review by Lynne Connolly

Review by Lynne Connolly

Review by Lynne Connolly

Review by Lynne Connolly

Tangled Web (MM Romance)
Review by Vincent Diamond

Tucker's Sin
Review by Lynne Connolly

Review by Harriet Klausner

Gay Erotica

Best Gay Erotica '10
Review by Vincent Diamond

Best Gay Romance 2010
Review by Vincent Diamond

Biker Boys
Review by Jay Lygon

Necessary Madness
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Personal Demons
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Royal Treatment
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Silver Foxes
Review by Vincent Diamond

Review by Jay Lygon

Special Forces
Review by Vincent Diamond

A Sticky End
Review by Jean Roberta

Wired Hard 4
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Lesbian Erotica

Best Lesbian Roamnce 2010
Review by Jean Roberta

Fast Girls
Review by Ashley Lister

Girl Crush
Review by Jean Roberta

Sometimes She Lets Me
Review by Jean Roberta


Best Sex Writing 2010
Review by Ashley Lister

A Brief History of Nakedness
Review by Rob Hardy

Condom Nation
Review by Rob Hardy

Dictionary of Semenyms
Review by Donna G Storey

Doctor of Love
Review by Rob Hardy

Floridaís Purge of Gay & Lesbian...
Review by Rob Hardy

John Holmes
Review by Rob Hardy

How Sex Works
Review by Rob Hardy

The Orgasm Answer Guide
Review by Rob Hardy

Screening Sex
Review by Rob Hardy

Sex at Dawn
Review by Rob Hardy

Whip Smart
Review by Rob Hardy