The Katharine Papers

The Importance of Word Choice

 

Penis.

(I do have a point here.)

Sometimes when I’m grading a student’s paper and I find a misused word, I circle it and write “Word Choice.”

There is, of course, a lot more to choosing the right word than dictionary definitions. Especially when it comes to sex.

I write historical romance novels that include sexually explicit love scenes. Nevertheless, the first time I said aloud to a group of people the words for male genitalia was not at a reading of one of my novels. Standing at a podium at my university, I enunciated “penis” to my students. Not a single lash in the room twitched. The topic of the course, after all, was sexuality in the Middle Ages.

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