Archive for November, 2009

Sexual Etymology: Fellatio and Cunnilingus

by Jason

[Note: today’s words are from Etymonline.com and not Chambers, since Chambers didn’t have these words listed]

Today’s words are the technical names for “blow job” (fellatio) and “eating out” (cunnilingus).

Fellatio: 1887, from Latin fellatus, pp. of fellare “to suck,” from PIE base *dhe- (see fecund). The sexual partner performing fellatio is a fellator; if female, a fellatrice or fellatrix.

Cunnilingus: 1887, from modern Latin cunnus “vulva” (see cunt) + lingere “to lick” . The Latin properly would mean “one who licks a vulva,” but it is used in English in reference to the action, not the actor. The verb ought to be cunnilingue.

One thing I find interesting about the words we use for oral sex is that both of our current terms (blowjob and eat out) are very metaphorical in nature and very imprecise, whereas the latin is very literal and direct.  Compare the term “blow job” (who wants someone just to blow on their penis?) with fellatio, which is literally to suck (which is what one is actually desiring).  Or the term “eating out” (which is so purposefully ambiguous to be nonsensical) with cunnilingus, which is literally to lick the vulva (which is what one actually desires – or at least to lick the clit, but that the clit was distinct from the vulva may not have been entirely understood at the time).

I think these two Latin words are much better than the current words we employ and I try to use them in my writing, instead of the more confused words that are currently in vogue.  Although, I’m not suggesting that you start using Latin in bed, but consider asking for an action directly (suck my penis) as opposed to asking for something that you don’t actually want (blow on my penis).

I’m still taking suggestions for next week’s edition of Sexual Etymology, on the list still are:
-hymen
-orgasm
-coitus
-fetish
-paraphilia
-homosexuality
-heterosexuality
-sodomy
-erotic
-procreation
-hysteria

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California Nude Beaches in the News

by Jason Stotts


(Picture Source: Wikimedia-Commons)

Apparently someone in the California Parks Department has decided that they’ve had enough with nude beaches and are trying to ban nudity on the beaches.  This, of course, has the nudist and naturist organizations up in arms trying to prevent this from happening.  The USA Today has an article about it: “California Nude Beaches Take Cover.”

What I think is absurd, on both sides, is that no one is addressing the issues.  Is being nude ethical?  Is it inherently offensive?  Is the nude human body shameful?  Should the fact that someone is offended be a prohibition on the action of another?

I mean really, let’s cut right to the heart of the issue: religionists think the human is base and shameful and that it should be hidden.  That’s it.  That’s the entire issue.

We need to recognize that there is nothing inherently base about the human body, that it is not a Platonic jail for the soul.  People are integrated beings that possess both mental aspects and physical aspects.  To denigrate either is to denigrate humanity.  Of course, this is not a concern for a religionist as they necessarily hate humans: how could one love something as weak, depraved, and low as a human compared to their imaginary gods?

I think that it is high time that we insist on the separation of church and state that the principles of our country rely on.  The only concern that the government should have with regard to religion is that people be free to practice whatever religion they choose and also be free from religious influence that they do not want.

For more my take on the nude beach experience, see my essay “My First Nude Beach.”

———

Update: the OC Register has a new article online “State Spent Over $40,000 to Fight Nudists.”  The article points out that in the middle of California’s largest budget crisis in history, the Parks Dept is spending money to try to get rid of nude beaches.  Furthermore, the Dept is doing it because of alleged “growing number of complaints” that they have received. Although, when pushed by the reporter, the Parks Dept was only able to provide two written complaints (they do not track verbal complaints).  This seems to me to be a clear issue of malfeasance on behalf of someone in the Parks Department.

——–

Update 2: The Naturist Education Foundation commissioned a survey in California about citizen’s thoughts on nudity and nude beaches.  Check it out here.

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De-Motivational Posters

by Jason Stotts

For those looking for some good holiday gifts for the person who has everything, or who just has a good sense of humor, check out Despair.com.  They have a large selection of, by far, the funniest posters ever made.

For example, Government:

Or, the quintessential Objectivist poster:

So, check out their site and see what you think.

————-
Note: I received no financial compensation for this post.  Although, Despair Inc, if you’re reading this, please feel free to contact me about setting something up.

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Shermer on Rand

by Jason Stotts

The latest op-ed out on Ayn Rand is now by Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic Magazine.  His understanding of Rand seems to be better than some of the others and you can tell that he has a personal affinity for Objectivism.  Check it out:

“The Real Rogue Warrior: Ayn Rand, not Sarah Palin”

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Sexual Etymology: Penis and Vagina

by Jason Stotts

In this week’s edition of Sexual Etymology, we’re going to look at the origins of the words “penis” and “vagina.” I think you might be somewhat surprised at what we find.

Vagina: (n.) passage from the uterus to the vulva.  1682, New Latin, from Latin vagina (sheath, scabbard) perhaps cognate with Lithuanian vozti (cover with something hollow), and Latvian vast (put a cover on), from Indo-European *wag- (sheath).

So, the origins of our word “vagina” is from “sheath.”  Given the origins of vagina, you might expect that the origins of the word “penis” would be “sword.”  Well, let’s see.

Penis: (n) 1676, borrowed perhaps through French penis (penis), or directly from Latin penis (penis), earlier *pesnis (tail).  The Latin word is cognate with Greek peos and Sanskrit pasas (penis).

So, the origins of our word penis is from later Latin, where it had the same meaning, but it grew out of the idea of “tail.”  So, if you were expecting the poetic metaphor of “sword and sheath,” then you are probably a little disappointed.

It is interesting how the idea of a tail could come to mean penis (as we know it), since there are certainly animals with both a tail and a penis.  Vagina is also interesting because a sheath is something you store a sword in when you’re not using it in order to keep it (and you) safe.  This is at least a little dissimilar from a vagina.

At least with this set of words, there is no negativity associated with the words.  Whether this is because the words have been considered “clinical” and therefore they don’t take on the connotative baggage that mutates them or perhaps it is because they predate the christian hatred of the body and sexuality, it’s hard to say.  Nevertheless, we should certainly continue to utilize these words.

Suggestions are still welcome, on the docket are:
– hymen
– fellatio
– orgasm
– coitus
– fetish
– paraphilia
– homosexuality
– heterosexuality
– sodomy
– erotic
– procreation

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Say Justice

by Jason Stotts

In case you haven’t seen it yet, Craig Biddle of The Objective Standard has a really nice little essay up about “saying grace” at Thanksgiving dinner called: “Don’t Say Grace, Say Justice.

One thing I’d like to point out to my more rational readers is that if your family still doesn’t know that you’re an atheist or Objectivist, and you are not dependent on them, Thanksgiving is a good time to come out of the closet.  You don’t have to make a big production out of it, it could be something as simple as saying “I am not going to participate in the Thanksgiving prayer” and simply leave until it is done.  You don’t have to make the case against religion to your family, just tell them that you are not religious and therefore you don’t want to participate.

You need to always be true to yourself and your beliefs, no matter what your family says, what your friends think, or how you think it “will make you look.”  At the end of the day, you have to look at your own face in the mirror and you will know whether you have been true to yourself: whether you still have your integrity.  However, this does not mean that you should run screaming atheism from the hills.  Just subtly make it known and if someone wants to talk with you about it great and, if not, even better.  Pick your battles wisely, but never misrepresent yourself.

And on this Thanksgiving Day: don’t say grace, say Justice.

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Can You Consent to Your Own Murder?

by Jason Stotts

Now that we’ve had time for people to think about our last Aporia, let me give my own opinion on the matter.

I think that Cogito is fundamentally correct to say that: “you can’t consent to your own murder, just like you can’t consent to your own rape.”  This distinction is important, as rape is definitionally something that one cannot consent to; so, too, with murder.  Were a person to consent to such an act, it would be “assisted suicide.”  This is a euphemism for asking another (assisted) to kill you (“suicide”).  Of course, the name is self-contradictory, since suicide is definitionally something that one can only do to oneself, but the idea is that you are consenting to another ending your life.

The more fundamental question then becomes “can you consent to being killed (by another)?”  This is the basic issue that is at the heart of the assisted suicide debate.  The problems are manifold, but I want to focus on these:

1. Does a person have a right to consent to another killing him?

2. Under what conditions would a person be considered to be justified in taking his own life?

3. Should a legal system allow assisted suicide (since it would be hard to ascertain the truth of whether the person, in fact, voluntarily wanted to be killed)?

In terms of the first question, it seems as though if a person has a right to take his own life, then he should have a right to delegate this task to another.  This is where considerations from question two come into play.  If a person can be considered to be justified to take his own life under no conditions, then he certainly cannot pass off this unjustified act to another.  However, this sense of justification is clearly a moral sense of the word and not a legal one.  There is a difference whether an act is moral and whether it is legal and there is no necessary connection between these.  For example, I there may be acts which are legal in some places, like prostitution in Nevada, that might not be moral; while there might be some acts which are moral, like killing in self defense, which might not be legal (perhaps the use of force was unjustified, if you had a gun and the person intending to harm you had a knife).

In terms of a legal discussion, then, we must not allow any curtailment of a person’s right to take his own life (although there is still the separate moral question).  The one notable exception is that class of humans that are considered to be not full persons: those that have psychological problems, mental retardation, children, etc.  This class of humans is considered, for one reason or another, to lack their full reasoning ability and are, therefore, unfit to make certain kinds of judgments about themselves.  The legal reason that we cannot curtail the right of a person to take their own life is that to deny them this is to force them to live.  It is, fundamentally, to deny them control of their very life.  If a person has a right to his own life, then he has a right to choose to end it.

In terms of the moral considerations, for when one is justified ending his own life, this should only be done when a person has lost their highest value and cannot reasonably foresee a way to regain it, gain a substitute, or attempt to achieve other values that might still give his life meaning.  For example, in the case of a married couple that has been together ten years and is deeply committed to each other, and do not have children, and one of the spouses dies, the other spouse might literally have no reason to continue living.  Sometimes your world is so wrapped up in another person, that existence itself would be intolerable without her.  Problems arise, however, when you consider the fact that it is rarely so simple.  What if the couple did have children?  What if they were supporting an ailing parent who would not survive without them?  These are questions that only the person in question can answer.  In terms of the philosophic principle, it is whether one thinks that one can still achieve values.

Since we have seen that it can be ethical to take your own life, and it should be legal to do so, let us return to our question of whether a state should allow you to delegate this right to another; that is, whether assisted suicide should be legal.

The issue of delegation of rights is not a simple matter.  For example, I can delegate the right to represent myself to another, usually an attorney, and have this person legally act as me.  Not make promises for me, but make promises as me.  So delegated, an attorney, or another person, can legally sign my name, enter into contracts, etc., in the exact same way as can I and it is the same, legally, as though I had done so myself.  But, in terms of assisted suicide, there is a fundamental difference: one fait accompli, there is no way to ascertain whether I truly wanted to be killed.  This is the legal problem.  How can the state guarantee that my death was voluntary?

I would imagine that the state would need to have a person verify, before the act, with the person who wishes to die that: 1. they are mentally capable of judging that they should die, 2. that they are voluntarily desiring to die, and 3. That there is no one who is in any way compelling them to want to die.  Given that these conditions are met, it would seem to be permissible, from a legal standpoint, to allow assisted suicide.  (The practical implementation of this is trickier: should the person be a psychologist, a representative of the court, etc?).  Fortunately, we can see that a solution is possible, and therefore it should be legal.

Now, returning to the case that prompted this discussion, I think Brandes was mentally unfit to consent to being killed and cannibalized.  There is no reasonable way that a sane person could desire this.  He was clearly suffering from some sort of insanity and should have been treated by a psychologist.

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Climategate?

by Jason Stotts

The Telegraph (UK) is reporting that a hacker has broken into the computers at Hadley CRU and has taken confidential data that allegedly shows that the team at Hadley doctored the evidence in favor of anthropogenic global warming and tried to keep skeptics from publishing papers to the contrary.

I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

Climategate: the final nail in the coffin of ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’?

The conspiracy behind the Anthropogenic Global Warming myth (aka AGW; aka ManBearPig) has been suddenly, brutally and quite deliciously exposed after a hacker broke into the computers at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (aka Hadley CRU) and released 61 megabites of confidential files onto the internet…

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