Penetration?

I really don't like the word "penetration" when it pertains to sex. It suggests so much stabbing and unwillingness on the part of the penetratee. Like if you're taking someone inside your body, you're just lying there while they stick something into you. It sounds invasive. It connotes violence.

It's hard to find a word, though, that conveys the same action without being awkward. I find myself referring to intercourse as penetration in public contexts because it's the socially acceptable term for fucking. It's a euphemism, the word you can say on television or in a classroom. It's almost scientific. They use it in textbooks. It's like an official term. I use it all the time, for lack of a better word.

I really don't want to do this anymore.

A few weeks ago, I was reading a book on pornography (I can't remember which one, unfortunately) and instead of calling it penetration, they called it intromission.

Activities like fingering, dick in pussy, and strap-on anal are intromissive. To intromit very simply means "to enter." I don't think it has the same connotation of active and passive roles or of aggression that "penetration" has. It also preserves that scientific quality, the euphemism that's useful in stuffy situations. I definitely like it.

What do you think. Do you like/dislike the word penetration? Would you ever use "intromission" instead? I'm curious to see if it's something that could ever catch on.

9 comments:

R. said...

I would use intromission more than I do if more people knew what it meant. Even spell-check doesn't recognize it.

Brianna J said...

I hate the word 'penetration'. It's probably the fault of all the sex-negative feminists, but 'penetration' is irrevocably associated with violence in my mind. I'll have to start using 'intromissive' - hopefully it will catch on!

Paradox said...

R, you definitely have a point. It's in the dictionary, but spell check is a bit behind. Of course, if people start using it that'll change, but that's a lot to expect.

But hey, Brianna and I are on the bandwagon. Let's see where it goes!

AM said...

I'm down with "intromission." While it too sounds clinical, the negative connotations associated with "penetrate" makes me uncomfortable enough to expand my vocabulary.

oculustigris said...

I've never had a huge problem with "penetration", but I like "intromission" a lot better. It doesn't feel terribly scientific or clinical at all to me. To be honest, it sounds more intimate.

From the Latin it breaks down to something like "to send inside" whereas "penetrate" means more literally "to put/get/enter into".

It still has an implication of directionality, which I don't think is necessarily problematic. I just don't think the entrance metaphor holds up with sex (or at least with good sex) where both people are agents and actively involved. But maybe I'm projecting a lot more onto it than needs to be there.

Though now that I think about it, sending and receiving are actions of peer agents (at least in computer science :P). The entrance metaphor, however, requires an agent and a host.

On an unrelated note, I LOVE the word "fucking." Though I tend to use it more generally to describe sex, and not intromission specifically. (See what I did there? :P)

oculustigris said...

Woops. I forget exactly what I said because it won't show me, but it was something along the lines of "where both people are actively involved." Even though I know full well that sex can involve as few as one person, and infinitely many. It's 8:30 in the morning. XP

Also, the phrase "manual intromission" just floated through my head, which sounds like something a car would have. Still love the word though.

Myca said...

Recognizing up front that my answer is not going to be useful to you (and offering apologies for that), I vote that we just call fucking fucking, fingering fingering, assfucking assfucking, pegging pegging, etc.

I do understand the utility of having the stuffy academic tone, but for me that's generally more of a bug than a feature.

;-)

---Myca

Dimas said...

I mean, I personally am a fan of just calling all of it fucking, but these things have context. It's unlikely that I would use the word "intromission" with a partner mid-act, but on that same note it's equally unlikely that I'd use the word "penetration".

There's a space in which these words are used, the academic space among them, that CONSTRUCT the way we view and think about fucking (assuming you buy into the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis). And within that constructive space, there is language that presupposes an inequality of engagement. That is worth exploring and even replacing.

There are also times when we want to talk about the group of sexual acts that involve entrance without saying something as wordy as "the group of sexual acts that involve entrance."

I get what you're saying here. We're talking about fucking, why are we trying to talk around it so much? But in the spaces in which we do have to talk around it, we can at least examine the presuppositions we're bringing with us.

Dimas said...

in short, I agree with you. :P

On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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