Can you believe it? Consent Week is almost here! I plan my year around this! This is when we leverage the power of the Bowdoin marketing machine for the cause of healthy sexuality. 
First, I’d like to thank the organizers for renaming the festivities. “Consent is Key” kicks “Consent is Sexy” to the curb. I’m sure a lot of us have experienced that robust communication about sex is sometimes awkward. And hard. And deeply unsexy.

 And that’s OK! We’ve spent the first twenty-odd years of our lives in a society that is at once hyper-sexualized and sex-phobic. For example, I had me some of that good ol’ abstinence-only sex education in my Kentucky public high school. (“The only way to never get syphilis is by wearing a promise ring till you’re thirty.”) I also knew every word to Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” when I was eight years old.

 One of the things, I’ve found, that makes communicating during sex hard is the stupid words themselves. Why are so many of them so awful? Well, I don’t know, but in an effort to facilitate ~communication~, I’ve come up with some alternatives. Dig in. 

Friendly Butt Stuff 
 OK, I didn’t come up with this. One of my friends was having a talk about sex with her significant other. He asked her how she felt about “a little friendly butt stuff. Like, not anal or anything, just a little friendly butt stuff.” Very silly—but they talked about it! 

Doggy Style 
This same friend has thought for a long time that “doggy style” refers to a person having sex with a dog. She was wrong. It’s about two dogs having sex with each other. But it’s still unpalatable to a lot of people. I’ve searched high and low for a good alternative, and it’s hard. I thought maybe “table and chair” in the spirit of spooning, but sources tell me that’s weirder. Someone suggested “fun spooning.” That could work, but I wouldn’t want y’all to think regular spooning isn’t fun. I asked a friend who is French. Apparently, in French they say “levrette” which is the name for a female greyhound. No progress there. The Australopithecus, Wikipedia tells me, was the first genus of hominins to have sex face-to-face… so you could say pre-Australopithecus?

 Obviously, I’m still working on this. If you have any suggestions, please send them to


I have also had some requests for things to not say. Of course, these are not rules or universal opinions, but out of deference to those who asked that their voices be included in this column, I will make note of them.
 “Pussy” came up frequently. Certainly divisive. Maybe check with your partner before referring to her vagina as a “pussy.” A lot of people aren’t into it. Same goes for “tits.” Referring to oral sex as “eating out” always makes me think of going to a restaurant. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not think about The Cheesecake Factory during sexy time. I much prefer the gender-neutral alternative, “go down on.” If you’re feeling a little bold, there’s “Australian kissing,” which is “French kissing, but down under.”

“Do you want this?”

 And when in doubt, questions like “Do you want this?” and “Is this OK?” go a long way. Also, I’ll plug, “Do you want to have sex?” That’s an important thing to not beat around the bush about. (Get it, bush?) 

If y’all are feeling like I’m being all language police-y, think of it as an invitation. Maybe you think everything I’ve said is silly and you’re totally comfortable with “doggy style.” That’s great! Maybe not, but you think my alternatives are goofy (they are), and then you can talk and think and come up with new ones. Talking about talking about sex is important, but if we’re going to do it, let’s fill in the gaps.