There is a process I go through, a process with which most of us are familiar, every time I get a new device. Even reformatting my Android phone or switching between keyboard apps makes this process a necessary one. It’s the act of adding words, whether slang, inside jokes or simply those left out for some reason or another by the keyboard developer.
I’ve posted screenshots of my personal dictionary to my friends because I was amused at the content. As you’d expect if you’d ever had a conversation with me in person, there are four-letter words in all their versions. If it can be used a noun, an adjective and a verb, I will love it all the more as a practical tool. Perhaps this is why “Fuck” truly is one of my favorite words. I can construct sentences from “Fuck” using only different tenses and word forms, and those all appear in my personal dictionaries.
Now, you can certainly write me off as a pervert with a dirty mouth, and I wouldn’t argue with that descriptor. It’s certainly not untrue. But it’s not painting the whole picture. You see, when my dictionary consists almost solely of words such as “cock” or “cunt,” it paints an even picture of the type of words that are withheld — and sometimes even suppressed — by the creators of these apps.
At best, it portrays them as prudes who are overly concerned with protecting their users from inappropriate conduct. And I don’t think “cunt” necessarily needs to be a suggestion as I hastily swipe away on my phone’s screen. This particular slang isn’t so common that it need pop up in our everyday communications, but what about “Sex?” Regardless of keyboard or how frequently I use that word — and you can bet it’s often! — no keyboard I’ve ever used has wanted to make it easier for me to easily add one of my most favorite words to a communique.
At worst, it highlights how ingrained misogyny is in our society. Yes, you’ve read that correctly. When I first picked up my Kindle Fire, I couldn’t imagine a specific time that I would send a message or post a tweet discussing vulvas and clits, especially given the awkwardness of the default — and only — keyboard. But I knew that time would come one day. It was a matter of when and not if.
I was utterly taken aback when the medical words, the correct terminology for female body parts, the very phrases that some people refuse to use erotically because they’re too cold and clinical sounding, were completely missing from my keyboard’s default dictionary. I couldn’t talk about my — or any — clitoris or vulva, even in a nonsexual sense, without first adding those words to a dictionary.
And, yes, I checked to see whether my Kindle was already aware of “penis.” It would appear that Amazon had truly developed a dick-tionary, a collection of vocabulary that acknowledged and suggested the rightful terms for a man’s reproductive organs but not those belonging to women. You can talk about the perineum, the anus and even testicles, but you’ll have to add “vagina.” It’s like this potential space in the human body has been obscured by the retail giant, like the non-sexual organs possessed by Alan Rickman’s angel character in the movie “Dogma.”
Ironically, my tablet recognize “kegels.” But I have to wonder if this is only because this is the name of a man, a doctor, who developed them. Without the vagina with which to do these exercises, that word certainly loses its usefulness! At least my Kindle produces this suggestion after having added the word to my user dictionary, rather than keeping it hidden away because it knows damned well why it was hidden in the first place!
There is some part of me that admits we live in a society both appalled by and obsessed with sex, and she is not overly surprised by these omissions of the suppression of sexually suggestive, well, suggestions when it comes to smartphone keyboards. It may be 2015, but I’m still forward thinking when compared to some. But there is no part of me that think this is an acceptable policy when only applied to female sexual organs in their most basic variations that are easily found in a traditional dictionary.
Are we still so uncomfortable with sex as a whole that we must police technology to discourage the use of clinical vernacular? Are we so obsessed with not talking about sex that nothing other than unhelpful, cutesy slang for our body parts, our orgasms and our sexual activity must be used, much to the chagrin of reviewers, sex educators and others like myself who talk about sex on a daily basis?
What does it say about a society when we obscure a woman’s body parts with black bars on TV screens and lines of code on our devices? A woman may have those parts — indeed, a trans-woman must have those parts to be considered as such — and there’s no negotiation that she must make them available to men. But she musn’t display or talk about them
Perhaps what it says about society is less important than what it does to society. It leads to woman in 50-year marriages without not a single orgasm to show for it. Women spend decades not receiving oral sex from partners who routinely accept blowjobs from their partners. They don’t discuss sex with their partners or even view talking about one of the most important elements of their relationship as a priority. It starts when we’re children, and it never ends for some people. Thanks to the Internet, more people are discussing sex than ever, discovering what their bodies can do, expanding their sexual satisfaction and improving their lives.
But the wrong messages — or no messages at all — are still being spread in other places. Teen girls aren’t even aware that masturbation is something they can do because sex ed only mentions boys jacking off. As a teenager, I once had to explain to my friend that her urethra and vagina weren’t the same body part. I’m constantly shocked about the number of women who can’t name their own reproductive organs or give even a brief overview of how their birth control works!
Women are afraid to discuss sexual function and dysfunction to the point of accidental but completely preventable pregnancy. A shockingly-large portion of women are afraid to discuss these things with doctors, medical professionals who should be at the front line, helping to combat sexually-transmitted infections and raise awareness about cancers other than break cancer one month out of a year.
The implications are worrying and far more vast than I could articular in these paragraphs. Indeed, it seems like I could write an entire book about the ramifications of dusting female sexuality under the rug.
This is why so-called scientists are still publishing articles debunking female ejaculation as a myth and British lawmakers have banned essentially any pornography focusing on a woman’s pleasure. Are we only allowed to discuss female sexuality inasmuch as it pertains to a man? Is it only okay to speak of it in hushed whispers but not in any manner where another person or computer can bear witness to the conversation having taken place to begin with?
Whether in print or on the screen, every effort is made to ban us from discussing, discovering and divulging what is one of the most important aspects of humanity — and certainly the most important aspect of myself as a person and a woman — and so few people seem to notice, let alone care.
But I cannot help but care. Because I am a woman. I have a vagina, a vulva and a clitoris. They don’t always make me happy, but they are mine. And I want to help others feel the same about their own parts.
I care because I want to send messages to my lovers about my cunt. I want to continue writing articles and sex toy reviews on this blog. I want to encourage my peers to seek medical advice when something seems amiss with their vaginas, and I don’t want to hear another living soul refer to the entire vulva as a pussy. I don’t want anyone to think they must call their vaginal canal a “vajayjay.”
And I certainly can’t stand that idea that anyone would subconsciously internalize, even for a second, the idea that discussion any of these things — and so many more — is taboo because their so-called smartphones don’t offer the terms as suggestions.