Monday, March 25, 2013

Rant: The Language of Breasts

There is nothing I hate more than describing breasts in a sex scene.  It's the language that is the problem, not the organs themselves (which are lovely).  There just aren't any good words for them. You end up sounding crass, or technical, or stupid, or like a 10 year old boy.

"Breasts" for example. Makes you think of chicken or breast exams. It's technical but when you get right down to it, better than the alternatives.  You could go with "tits", which depending on the tone of the story, I might use, but I feel like an asshole when I use the term.  It's harsh, unfeeling, objectifying.

After that things just get ridiculous yabbos, fun-bags, cans, bajongas...I don't need to go on. Words for a conversation between two men oogling at a woman without her knowledge.  Definitely can't use these. The hero isn't allowed to talk about the heroine that way anyway.

Women usually use the word "boobs" when discussing them with their friends. It's soft, innocuous, safe.  But stick it in a sentence ("He touched her boobs with gentle caresses, taking one boob into his mouth while he teased the other with deft fingers.")

We could go the old-fashioned route, and use the word "bosom" but you can really only get away with that in a historical.  I once read a 19th century pornographic novel (almost all sex in those are date-rape situations, btw) and the author used the word "bubbies."  I can only assume that it was pronounced the same way children say "boobies" now, but the alternative spelling makes the word a lot more attractive, at least on the page. But see if your spell check and editor will let you get away with that.

Then there are the tacky romance words (which I've never experienced first-hand because I have taste) like "mounds" and "orbs."  Freaking orbs? Do I have a pair of disco balls on my chest? (You do if you a Meyer vampire chick I guess.)

So if "tender breasts" equal KFC and "sweet bubbies" equal a dyslexic 10 year old...what the hell am I supposed to do?

Switch to "udders"?


  1. I hear you. I don't write that much het but when I do, I run into the same problem. I mostly end up using breasts and tits when a man is speaking.

    Luckily I don't have the mental link that connects breasts with KFC ;-), so at least I don't have that mental stumbling block.

  2. Udders...shudder more like! Tender makes them sound more PMT-like in my mind, thankfully no KFC there for me!

    Mmm, I've only just started writing and already run into issues with language. I either ending up sounding like a medical textbook or very highly repetitive.

    And I certainly don't want to go down the route of cheesy euphemisms...her "feminine trophies"...(again, shudder)...