I write romance in several sub genres, paranormal, fantasy, contemporary, suspense, and mystery. These days I'm writing my first Sci-Fi romance among other stories that are littered across my computer desktop in folders that sport working titles. Usually my stories are erotic romance. That means they contain graphic sex in the love scenes. They have complex plots and developed characters, and always have a happy ending. That's what makes them erotic romance and not erotica.
As a romance writer I use some pretty graphic language, but there's a word I simply can't use.
The 'c' word. It's not cock. I have no trouble using that. It's the word that refers to the female genitalia.
When I was growing up, and now around me the word, cunt, was and is used as an exceptional denigration, and one of the worse curse words imaginable. I even use it at the most extreme of times, usually prefaced by the more acceptable to me anyway, 'fucking'. More often I'm throwing the 'f' word around.
I hear the 'c' word almost every day as guys tote heavy and sometimes difficult sized and shaped items around the place I work. This stuff is often valuable and some of the building is like a maze, with narrow corridors and flights of steps. It can try peoples' patience. It's nothing to some of them to call the huge heavy wooden dresser by the 'c' word and it trips off the tongue with no thought whatsoever. Some of them turn around and say sorry as if they've offended me with their swearing. They haven't. I swear like a trooper, as the saying goes in the UK.
This does mean, though, that I can't use the word in my writing. I can't have my dominant alpha hero using the word to his love interest in their sex talk. It's just not erotic for me.
Lots of erotic romance writers use the word. I've got no problem with them, really people can write as they wish, but I have trouble reading a sex/love scene where the guy says what he's going to do to her, 'c' word, or that her 'c' word is his. It's less than erotic, sexy, or loving to me.
Laughing my head off now, but all the same I started to think about why I can use the curse word, fuck, in the sex and love scenes.
I have no real answer.
So what's the origin of the 'c' word? I Googled it and found an extensive page of information about the word on Wiki, which is really interesting and worth reading. Here's the opening paragraph.
Cunt // is a vulgar term for female genitalia, and is used as a term of disparagement for females and males. The earliest known use of the word, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, was as a placename for the London street Gropecunt Lane, c 1230. Scholar Germaine Greer said in 2006 that cunt "is one of the few remaining words in theEnglish language with a genuine power to shock."
Use of the word as a term of abuse is relatively recent, dating from the late nineteenth century. Reflecting different national usages, cunt is described as "an unpleasant or stupid person" in the Compact Oxford English Dictionary, whereas Merriam-Webster has a usage of the term as "usually disparaging and obscene: woman", noting that it is used in the U.S. as "an offensive way to refer to a woman"; and the Macquarie Dictionary of Australian English gives "a contemptible person." When used with a positive qualifier (good, funny, clever, etc.) in Britain, New Zealand, and Australia, it can convey a positive sense of the object or person referred to.
The word appears to have not been strongly taboo in the Middle Ages, but became taboo towards the end of the eighteenth century, and was then not generally admissible in print until the latter part of the twentieth century. The term has various derivative senses, including adjective and verb uses.
Then there's this interesting post, but still it doesn't persuade me to use the word in my romance writing.
I guess society has done a number on me. There's a whole school of socio-psychology that explores that sort of influence.
This train of thought got me thinking about what other words I don't use in my romance writing.
So, I don't use the 'd' word either, and that does end in 'k'. Why do I use cock and never dick? That must be because where I come from and in my life so far the word, dick, is a denigration ...
I can't have my gorgeous hero doing anything with his dick ... as for prick, well we all know what that means.
After all that cursing (LOL) here's a sweetie teaser from Rescuing Cade