The Cunning Linguist: Lady-Centric Slang And The Power Of Language

Good morrow dear listeners — welcome to this week’s episode of Unscrewed!

I can’t lie, I was particularly excited about this episode — as a self-described “word-ho” and rough language connoisseur, I couldn’t wait for Jaclyn to delve into the embedded gender politics of the slang we use.

Slang directly reflects the gendered hierarchy of society, one that posits men — and their genitals — as not only more powerful (“that takes balls!”) but better-than (“you pussy!”).

This fine Tuesday, she got on the horn with Jonathon Green to suss out slang’s significance. Green is a slang lexicographer, author of the “impertinent, vile, and fascinating” Green’s Dictionary of Slang, a contributor to the Strong Language blog, and creator of The Timelines of Slang. If you love a good synonym for vaginas, sex, masturbation, and any other wicked bit, you will be tickled pink in your “nether eye” to comb through his archives of words.

Jonathon and Jaclyn discuss how slang serves as both a reflection and reiteration of what the culture already believes — how it’s a kind of twisted echo chamber where stereotypes, fear, and our basest selves echo and refract one another. By examining our use of slang, we are in turn able to explore the extent to which we perpetuate damaging binaries by using it, and if “taking back” words is actually able to strip these epithets of their power.

Together Jaclyn and Jonathon traverse the shoals of lewd language, exploring the inevitable — and troubling — reality that our speech and communication is decidedly man-made. According to Jonathon:

“If women come up in slang, they’re objects not subjects . . . and if women come up in a positive way, it’s because they’re a good fuck . . . the vagina is a nasty, dark, frightening twisty hole probably with razorblades . . . certainly something like Indiana Jones would go down . . . it’s a frightening place for us boys. We want to go there, but we don’t!”

Tweet at Jonathon with all your new-fangled slang — he’s “very open to suggestion.” And for god’s sake, listen to the episode below because it’s fascinating. Oh! And be sure to stay tuned until the very end because things get very cunty with a very special guest.


Listen to “Detonating the C-bomb” on The Allusionist podcast here.

Full new episodes of Unscrewed go live every other Tuesday, with quickiesodes boasting outtakes, advice for listeners who send in their sex/uality questions, and other delectable tidbits airing in between.

Have burning quandaries of your own? Tweet @jaclynf (use #unscrewed) or drop her a line at And yes! You can even use your handy-dandy smartphone, personal computer, or laptop and record yourself asking your question; she may just include it in the next episode.


Lead image credit: flickr/ AJC

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