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I have no problem with the word cunt. In fact, I’m of the firm belief that it can be empowering, when used in the proper context, and I never hesitate to find the proper context. Cock is a fun word, preferred over dick, personally, and I’m ever the fan of throbbing and pulsing. In the whole wide world of romance novels, there are words that show up again and again – and for good reason. It’s pretty clear, and often distracting, when authors try and get overly creative with their euphemisms for the goods.
I recently stumbled upon a list of Christian words for penis, and it’s truly remarkable what’s out there – God’s Harpoon, Oozing Whistle, Meat Banana and Tangy Tart Trombone, just to name a few of the ones that will make you scrunch your nose up in confusion. Let’s be clear on this point – there is no meat in bananas, and I don’t think we should start putting it there.
For the most part, I’m pretty committed to the old-fashioned way of things. There are a handful of good words for male and female genitalia that keeps the reader in the moment, without making the moment a comedy sketch. But of all the words that routinely show up in traditional and contemporary romance novels and erotic scenes alike, there is one I cannot abide.
Moist isn’t an uncommon word, and I’m sure we’ve all come across it before. It’s divisive too – many readers and writers are on the same page as me, when it comes to the role of the word moist in romance novels. In my humble opinion, there’s only one thing in the world that benefits from being moist – cake. In any other circumstance, moist makes me think of a basement, where the walls are a little slippery and you definitely don’t want to startle whatever is living behind the old cabinet. Literally, when I search moist under Google Images, mushrooms showed up. Mushrooms! Literal fungus. Moist feels damp, and damp is not the sensation anyone wants when a hot CEO or brazen cowboy is going down on you.
I know there are likely some words I use that would squick various readers. Depending on the heat level of the book, there are more or less words that might make you stop and frown. The euphemisms are a wonderful part of reading romance, but you don’t want them to take away from the moment. I once read a Scottish highlander novel where the metaphor for his penis being a gun went on for five pages of bad puns. At that point, I’m decidedly not thinking about the book’s heat level.
But I find that back to basics is usually the safest way to go, and that’s why most people stick with it – though let me be clear – I really don’t mean health class basics. When I hear the word vagina in the middle of a hot and heavy scene, it freaks me out. Penis, too. It’s a clinical term – takes the intimacy and mystery out of the moment and puts me back in high school, all in one, damning fell swoop.
All this being said – I would rather read the word vagina a thousand times than moist even once.