Saying “dildo” on Twitter

Oddly phallic

It’s easy to forget, especially within my sex toy bubble, that there are all kinds of people on Twitter. Look up any Twitter directory, though, and you will find circles of people such as pornstarshate-mongers, cats, evangelicals, and wedding planners. My recent Twitter contest revealed a whole new group of people to me: people afraid of the word dildo.

The contest moved along quietly at first, making its rounds from sex bloggers to sex toy lovers to kinksters. To enter, people simply had to tweet. My template tweet was — I thought — fairly benign: RT @Epiphora: I’m giving away a set of two bumpy glass dildos! Retweet to enter. Rules + picture: http://is.gd/Cldd. The rules stated, however, that the text could be changed to anything. Nobody really changed it.

Slowly but surely, my contest began to creep into less dildo-friendly circles. Suddenly, people began making excuses for entering the contest. One person, immediately after retweeting, tweeted again: “What? I need gifts to give. Including giving them to my mom as a paperweight. So she can display ’em in her front room. For church social.” Obviously, this was meant to be a joke, but it also says a lot about our culture’s need to preface/postscript any mention of sex toys with some sort of explanation — in this case, in anticipation of perplexed @ replies (Twitter’s equivalent of weird looks). Another person measured her level of embarrassment by the fact that her friend retweeted as well. “I was feeling bad about retweeting that,” she wrote, “but I love that you retweeted me!”

Then there were the couple of people who saw the contest but refused to enter. Instead, they @ replied those who did enter the contest.What I found telling is that these people were not opposed to the dildos themselves, but to the idea of tweeting about the contest. One person tweeted, “i’d never be brave enough to enter that!!! but… those do look nice.” Another person responded to an entrant’s tweet, apparently not realizing her own irony: “Interesting contest, I’m not sure I would want to twit about my love of dildos! to enough to participate, but they are pretty [sic].” When the entrant replied that she’s a stripper so there was nothing odd about the contest in her mind, the replier wrote, “Yeah, but I’m not,so… you could consider a twit of something slightly more discreet and probably get a lot more hits.”

That kind-of blew my mind. It didn’t even occur to me to word the text differently. Two bumpy glass dildos. That’s what they are. By definition, because they do not vibrate, they are dildos. It wouldn’t sound right to say “two bumpy sex toys.” So what would be acceptable? “Two bumpy romance products”? Okay, I’m being facetious now. I could have written something like that — seemingly discreet, but easily decipherable by anyone with half a brain. But I didn’t. Because they’re freaking dildos. (Plus, entrants were free to change the text to whatever they wanted.)

In response to this silliness, Miss KissThis started tweeting, “I’m giving away a set of two bumpy glass fuck toys!” A_LAH followed suit, tweeting, “I’m giving away a set of two bumpy glass sculptures that are oddly phallic!” And soon I was laughing and forgetting about my implied insanity for being completely comfortable with the word dildo. Carrie Ann put it best when she tweeted to me, “If you can’t SAY dildo?  Or READ dildo?  Without being offended?  NO DILDOS FOR YOU!” Besides, according to Backseat Boohoo, “Dildo is one of the best words in the English language, right up there with fork and kumquat.”