Thursday, May 20, 2010

Generation Language Gap

by Raelene Gorlinsky

I was laughing about the innuendo of a radio ad for "protection"--it was for insurance, but sure sounded to me like something else! My 24-year-old son didn't get it at all, and I had to explain. "Mom," he insisted, "I've never heard any guy use the term 'protection' for that." Which led to other words. Rubber? "Nope, only older women use that." (I refrained from hitting him, as I am what he meant by "older women".) So what do young men and women call it? "It's a condom, Mom." He sounded so patronizing, like maybe he thought I didn't know the real word. I decided at that point I didn't want to pursue the discussion with other sex words. Plus, it just seems "ick" to discuss cock and pussy with one's son.

So, are you a twenty-something, or parent to one? Have close friends in that age group? What sex words do they really use? It would be interesting to see how the language in romance novels (typically written by more-than-twenty-year-old women) compares to the reality of young adults today.

BTW, to my grandfather's generation, "rubbers" were those things men pulled on over their good shoes to keep them from being ruined on rain days.

11 comments:

Erica Anderson said...

I'm so glad that you're posting to this blog again. Would love to hear more from editors, cover designers, etc. too.

Ms Snarky Pants said...

Wow, I didn't think I was so terribly out of touch, but I've used the words protection and rubbers in daily conversation. Maybe they've been so very well sexually educated that they don't have to use euphemisms anymore. A condom is a condom, a penis is a penis. Though I have to admit, that just doesn't have quite the same ring to it as other things...

JJ said...

I'm 24 years old and I've definitely heard the word "protection" with regards to condoms. You know, the age-old advice, "Don't forget to use protection!"

"Rubbers" sound a bit outdated to me, but not unusual. However, for the most we don't really use slang for condoms.

ECPI Editors said...

Ms Snarky, I think it is indeed the sex education. Young adults today started getting it in elementary school, they did learn and adjust to the "real" words rather than euphemisms.

Of course, I always laugh hysterically when I read a sex scene in a romance and the hero reaches for a condom and says, "Let me protect you, honey." I honestly CANNOT imagine a man really saying that.

Raelene

ECPI Editors said...

Erica (and everyone), send us questions and suggestions to redlinesdeadlines@gmail.com !
We run out of things to say.

Raelene

Leah Braemel said...

I often check with my 25 and 19 year olds to make sure I'm using the more common terminology. To me a rubber is an eraser, and a thong is footwear.

Gwyn Lacy said...

According to my sources, "rubber" is a very outdated word. Most young women refer to the product as condom and carry their own--though not in their wallet! Protection is a word still used according to my sources, though condomn is what it is. Most of my sources say that educated women, would consider it to be stupid to have sex without a condomn; and that it is just as expected as foreplay.

Gwyn Lacy said...

Another thought, I think you're gonna see condom manufacturers packaging on condoms become more feminine--or they're just plain stupid.

Rena Marks said...

Oh, geez. It wasn't until this very informative blog that I discovered I should NOT be saying rubbers. I didn't even know I was outdated!

I do remember giggling with my twenty-something year old daughter once, telling her something about people boinking.

She blinked. "No one calls it that, Mom."

Oh.

Cody said...

I'm 22 and, in addition to the myriad of euphemisms, I still call it protection.

Cat Marsters/Kate Johnson said...

Where I come from, a rubber is something you use to erase pencil marks. Hence if you walk into an English school, you should not be alarmed to hear children asking to borrow a rubber!

I'm 28, and I'd call it a condom. Used to hear it called a Johnny but not for a while (and a beanie hat used to be called a Johnny hat when I was a teenager!). I might call it protection, as in "Did you use protection?" but it sounds kind of formal to me.