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justin hall
16 march 1998
history of the english language
craig williamson

lip service

euphamisms for female masturbation

i approached swarthmore students edith, hannah and ned, they couldn't identify any euphamisms for female masturbation. they implied that "women just did it, they didn't need to talk about it." nothing like "jerking off?" ned said, "there's no jerk involved."

i belong to a mailing list distributed out of san francisco, called "perverts" - we exchange mostly urls (net addresses) for pictures of animals and people having sex, and other sex oddities images. i turned to them first to see whether the initial swarthmore lack of euphamisms for female masturbation was a common thing, even amongst self-proclaimed sexually minded folk. i found they each came forward with at least one, with a few sporting more than a few.

nothing like "rubbin' the rosebud" ? i queried.

from perverts:

feeding the bearded clam - elly
making soup - steve5
twiddling the furry grotto - neck
"personally I gave up,
I just use the word 'wank' even though Im a girl.
tho what about 'go poke' " - allison
rub one out. is my favorite. it's kind of frat boy. - brian
polish my pearl - egg

what i was not able to ascertain is whether women actually use these terms in ways that i am familiar with men using them, or terms being used with reference to men. often, terms for male masturbation can be used as nominitive derision - "he's a jack off" or "what a pud puller." or, in the imperative form, male masturbation euphamisms can serve as a dismissal; "go stroke." one wouldn't necessarily think to call a woman "a pearl polisher" or to tell her, "go feed your meter."

besides differences in usage between gendered masturbatory terms, these euphamisms for women seem different somehow, perhaps simply from lack of circulation. less violence? more individual emphasis? more food? most of these attempts at definition fail simply because of the immense number of euphamisms for male masturbation - the entire range of the english language and western cultural experience is amply sprinkled with dried crinkly spots where groups of adolescents have come fast and loose with penis pulling metaphors.

what is similar is the charm - masturbation euphamisms, and perhaps all taboo euphamisms, they are fun to read! "have ladyfingers and cream," tickles the wit as well as the clit, in a way that "paint a small jackson pollack" does as well: in these few word descriptions there is something similar to old english riddles. the mystery of sex and especially personal sexuality is coded in most ordinary human activities; petting kittens, flicking switches, cooking, eating-associated gestures, hygienic maintenance, hair brushing. toast, soup, beans, eggs, clams, all these foodstuffs end up between fingers in the vagina (like butterchurns, and bread in the oven).

there's a more intimate relationship with hair as well; beards, fur, cats, afros; pubic hair is more present in female masturbation euphamisms than in those for male masturbation.

ultimately this paper then presents these female masturabation euphamisms without study of usage. i was quite happy to discover "lip service," but i am now curious how it might be used.

flipping the bean
playing tiddly-winks (sp?)
buttering the toast
reading lips
giving the bearded lady a poke in the nose
feeding the meter
making waves for the man in the boat
saving a spot in hell (i think i'm joking about this one, but i THINK i heard my gramma say it once)

i know that i MUST know more. lemme think on it a while. when i was little we used to call it "scrambling eggs", but what did we know? - heather

from swarthmore students:

finally two came through - men, local to worth dormitory.

rubbin' the muff - andrew marino
touching gus - charlie mayer

and san francisco-located friend marjorie ingall, who used to write for sassy, a young woman's magazine, back when it was cool:


Polish the pearl, pet the kitty, dig in, dim the lights (use a vibrator), flick the switch, strum the big open C, buff the bead, hone the stone, part the petals, make kitty purr, do the sweet slide, have ladyfingers and cream, juice it up, brush your afro, jill off. (Both) Wank, go solo, jack off, kill time, fire the surgeon general, play solitaire, diddle, honeymoon in your hand.

perverts member bryna bank recommends places on the web to get jiggy wit' yourself:

here's a few ways to describe petting the pussy:

this is a totally sophomoric one but holds entertainment value:

(justin I have more links if you wanna see them)

and while we're on the subject, here's another site (Jackin World) which is a teen-oriented site about masturbation. It's really straightforward and informative -- one of my favorites.

jerkin' the gerkin'

because the data was good, my friends put out, i include some gem sample phrases for male masturbation:

Choking the chicken! - howard


(Boys) Spank the monkey, whack off, wax the dolphin, beat the meat, choke the chicken, boot up the hard drive, slam the ham, stretch the turtleneck, feed the Kleenex, seed the rug, play the single-string air guitar, have a date with Rosy Palm and her five beautiful daughters, shake hands with the president, make soup for one, give the tadpoles a swimming lesson, congratulate the bald-headed champion, paint a small Jackson Pollock, gag the maggot, club the baby seal, relieve the pitcher.

the problem here is opening the floodgates - studying female masturbation euphamisms is far more approachable. earl @ well's web page above has three screens full of female euphamisms, and twenty full of those concerning male masturbation.

there are still many female masturbation euphamisms listed on the pages above that are quite remarkable, delightful, exciting for their leap between the ordinary and the taboo-titillating sexual. Applying lip gloss, Checking the Oil, Doing something for my chapped lips, Drooling, Getting a stain out of my carpet, Itching the Ditch, Nulling the void, Parting the Red Sea, Polishing the wedding ring, Preheating the oven, Soaking in Palmolive, Stiffening my upper lip, Visiting your safety deposit box. these activities might never have the same connotation again! especially in the company of peers (i doubt i'll whip these out on any matrons, unless they offer some first first).

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