Euphemisms and Biology

I recently wrote an article about euphemisms and how they confuse conversation. I initially heard the concept when Simon Sinek and Brené Brown were talking. I loved the concept and was inspired to write an article about it. And that’s where I stopped. I didn’t know what kind of video to create to follow up on that…until I was talking with one of my coaches. She suggested that euphemisms also apply to human rights, different cultures, the genders, and different parts of the world. I don’t feel qualified to address that.

But we kept talking and hit upon a topic I feel very comfortable — in an uncomfortable way — talking about, and that’s biology. The euphemisms we have around body functions, and body parts, and of human interactions are astounding. And I still say euphemisms confuse the issue.

My example: In maybe ninth grade, I knew enough biology to know how babies were made. And I’d also heard that when a man and a woman slept together, the woman would get pregnant. I couldn’t figure that one out. I had images of little tadpoles — little baby frogs — crawling across the bed from the man to the woman to impregnate her. I was totally baffled for a few years. It got straightened out when somebody said, “No, you’re not really sleeping together.” But there’s a euphemism that confuses kids. Does that contribute to teen pregnancy? I don’t know. It contributed to teen confusion here.

But what about body parts? We have male body parts of — let’s see, there’s a peter, a dick, a woody, and we have “the boys”. But girls have “the girls”, also known as boobs, and tits. There are a variety of ways of referring to those parts. And then there are the other female parts, and I don’t like those words, so I’m not going to share them with you. You’ll have to figure them out for yourself. But we all have our bums, our butts, our asses. As you can see, it goes on and on.

Why can’t we just call body parts and body functions what they are? Why do we confuse things? Are we embarrassed? Are we angry, excited, challenged — what is it? I don’t know. It’s something for you to figure out as you think about how you use euphemisms and wonder: Do they confuse your communications? I’ll bet they do. And for body functions, we have other euphemisms.

I’m going to stop there because I’ve already pushed my limits here. Oh, in casual conversation among friends, I’m much more graphic than I’ve been with you. But we’ll leave it at this. Just think about it. How are your euphemisms confusing your communication?


The original article is: Euphemisms: Concealing Reality

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