Average reading time: 6-7 minutes.
We are experiencing a "thought control" dictatorship, 1984 like - and most of us are not even aware of it.
How language can structure our thought patterns
In his novel "1984", Gorge Orwell describes a dictatorship where the people in power impoverish language and vocabulary in order to control the minds of the people. All thought patterns that are forbidden are named with the same word: “thoughtcrime”. The same word is used to describe “thinking of freedom” and “premeditating murder”. It becomes the perfect dictatorship, because people are not able to elaborate their thoughts of rebellion: if you don’t have words for it, you may not even be able to think of it.
If we have only one word to say two things, our subconscious brain will not be able to differentiate between them - and think them apart, and have a free thinking pattern.
On another pattern, words have a strong power of evocation: eliciting images and emotions. If I say “the most beautiful woman you ever saw”, you will have an image in your mind, and if I say “a disgusting smell”, you will have another one...
Words also have political power. In France in 1800 “legitimist” was the self-coined word to designate monarchists. This was meant to give a positive feeling to their position... but also, it created a mental shortcut. For dozens of years, whenever someone would use the word “legitimacy”, the listener would think of the king.
A frequent use of associated language can hack into our ability to think. Can you hear the phrase “just do it” or “think different” without thinking of a brand? Even if it is not your intention?
I believe that freedom of thought is an important part of a happy erotic life - and our freedom of thought has been hijacked. We have been “brainwashed” by the power of words and their underlying politics. Most of our “common” words for anything sexual (organs or actions) are tainted by the ideology of Puritanism and Porn (P&P), that equates sex with violence and contempt. This has two consequences:
- A difficulty to talk about sex in a loving, caring context (talking about it will seem dirty, demeaning)
- A confusion in our erotic minds, an intrusion of politics in our ability to relate to sexuality and eroticism.
2. Talking about sex with a partner.
If I am in bed with the woman I love, and I want to ask her to do something, I may have a problem explaining it, either because our vocabulary is very poor and imprecise, or because the words I use feel disrespectful to her. I know that some people like “dirty talk” (and they like it dirty), but for many, feeling disrespected is a huge turn-off. For me, it is. Most of the women I have met feel the same.
The evocative power of words can be a huge ally or enemy of love-making... And the absence of positive vocabulary (or, sometimes, any vocabulary at all) to designate sexual actions or body parts, can be a pitfall when trying to communicate with your lover, about the best way to show love. I created a whole article about Creating an “instructions manual”, it is one of the very important things to improve your love life!
I once had a girlfriend who would not perform oral sex just because she would not want to "suck". There was no religious or traumatic block, and she had no experience of it: it was just the implications of the word "suck" for her self-image. The undertone was so ingrained in her brain that she could not resolve herself to even try it. "I don't want to be someone who sucks".
3. Choosing who you invite into your head!
It is one of my leitmotivs.
Choosing what language, what thoughts and patterns you invite into your life is an essential part of freedom. And choosing who to NOT let into your mind is as important... and probably more difficult!
Choosing what thought patterns I invite into my sexual life is part of that.
A big part of our sexual life is in our minds - thoughts, imagination, fantasies, desires. It is what Esther Perel calls "the erotic". In order to create and enhance my own erotic landscape, I need to decide what words I invite into my bedroom - and my head.
Unfortunately the common language is influenced by Porn & Puritanism (P&P):
- They use the same word to say "hurt someone" and "have sex",
- The same word for "being incompetent" and "pleasing my penis",
- The same words for "pleasant body part" and "unpleasant person",
- The same word for "woman who likes sex" and "object of utmost contempt".
- And many others.
That is not a thought pattern I want in MY head (or my lover's).
It is a matter of ideology. Porn’s and Puritanism’s ideology is the same: for P&P, sex is harmful: dirty, violent, despicable, and misogynistic. In that ideology, a woman’s desire for pleasure makes her despicable, and worthy of punishment; and a man’s desire for pleasure makes him a violent uncontrollable beast; and sex is mostly dirty and brutal, usually a man hurting a woman. That ideology is the enemy of love and shared pleasure. And that ideology spreads in an insidious way: since they colonized our brains through vocabulary, most people may not even realize that they have been influenced.
Because of those snuck premises, some people may claim to be proud of being despicable, just because they like sex and were unable to remove themselves from this ideology. Some will try and reverse the undertones of those words ("the ethical slut") - and I wish them success, but I doubt of their success.
Some people will not even see that pleasant sex and misogynistic violence are NOT the same.
I recommend Erika Lust’s TED talk in this matter: she saw the paradox I mention, and created ethical porn to answer it. The problem of porn is not the depiction of sex, but the way it is done in the current industry - and the (political) view of men / women relationships it encompasses and spreads.
I don't want THEIR (P&P) thought patterns in MY head. Therefore, I had to DECIDE I will use other words, so that my communication will be crystal clear.
Removing some words from my daily use (and adding new ones), or at least, being conscious when I use them. Even though it may seem like a limitation, it is actually OPENING new possibilities, not closing them!
Some may like to play with this pattern in some sexual games, which is OK if they choose it. I am not judging those who are turned on by “dirty talk”. Like any kink, you should be allowed to do it, and you should not have to. One should have THE CHOICE.
But most of us do not choose what words we hear every day, and what images we see every day associated with them - just think of a song that has been used in advertisement, and now you can’t listen to it without thinking of the product! So being conscious of this attempt to control our minds, can be a key to open many erotic possibilities. Some doors may have been closed because of thought-controlling speech, and may open again.
I think this choice has been a huge step in my claiming my sexual agency, and opening a world of erotic that can be my own.
Caveat: Not only you cannot decide every thought in your head, but our “transgressive” fantasies are a healthy way to process the emotions that we don’t want to act upon, and the violence that we have suffered from. We live in a society with its taboo, its imperatives, its violence etc. Our (secret) sexual fantasies are a place where we process the conflict between our wishes and reality, our frustrations and impossibilities, our traumas and our needs. Many of our fantasies are exactly what is forbidden to our own ethics, or the transgression of our own boundaries. It is healthy to fantasize about things we don’t like, things we would never do in real life. Trying to control and/or suppress our sexual fantasies is not only impossible, it would be forcing our unconscious mind to release in another way (including acting out). Never feel ashamed of your own thoughts and fantasies: our inner “shameful” fantasies are the balance that makes us stay civilized in real life.
So this whole section is NOT about repressing your existing fantasies, but
- Being conscious about the link between our language and our thoughts,
- Introducing new erotic language, scenarii, and patterns, in addition to the existing
- Applying the evocative power of language in our real-life erotic exchanges.
Of course, I don’t want to replace one imperative with another. You may choose to follow my path or not. You can choose to continue using "dirty" words, borrow your vocabulary from another source, create your own... or vary depending the circumstances and mood. Leaving you free choice is why I mostly use neutral (medical) vocabulary in this blog, and in my courses or sessions.
- Are there specific words that turn you on or off?
- Do you have experience with changing your vocabulary being the source of change in the way you think?
- In this blog, do you prefer that I use neutral vocabulary, or that I instil my own “language”? Do you need clues or examples of “secret language”? Please let me know.