Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life. Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul, leave me my name!
Here’s a fun fact for your Thursday: Channing Tatum named his penis Gilbert.
Names are inviolable. In The Crucible, John Proctor refuses to sign a confession because he knows his legal name will be used against others. His refusal to sign is even seen as the restoration of his soul (you know, considering his infidelity essentially led to several witch trials). In fairy tale lore, knowing someone’s full name – also referred to as their True Name – gives you absolute power over someone. So what is in a name, if not your whole identity? If it is so vital to our sense of self, what does it mean when we anthropomorphize objects, even genitalia, and give them names?
In 2013, the World Health Organization released the findings of a two-year multi-national study on mental health and found that “American men really like their own penis and testicles. They tend to name all three, and often talk to them, urge them on, flatter them… Our American male respondents indicated they use crotch monologues to pump themselves up for hopeful sexual encounters.” That was said by Dr. Estelle Waters of the London School of Psychology, Psychiatry and Sociology. She was in the charge of the research. (It should be noted that, while this study included both men and women, it was the men’s…enthusiasm for naming their penis that stood out. That doesn’t necessarily mean that women don’t name their genitals either. )
We like to give things name. Our cars, laptops, GPS and phones. My friends and I had names for each of our batons when I was a majorette in high school. We talk to our dear objects. When our laptop freezes, we’re bound to cosset it and say something like “Not now, baby!” The unique thing about giving genitalia names, however, is that they are literally connected to us. So what are we naming? Are you naming a penis or creating an alter ego for yourself for when you’re on the prowl for a sexual encounter?
There’s also instances where couples nickname their genitals together. Sociology professor Paul Leslie said “a nickname implies some kind of intimacy, some kind of relationship and knowledge. And very often the nickname is party of the secrecy of a relationship and the secrecy that helps bind a relationship.” Meaning that, when done within the confines of a relationship, naming genitals can be conducive to the health of the relationship.
There’s no straight answer for why we name our body parts, but I do think that it stems from an understanding that names have power behind them. A name grants couples a higher level of intimacy. A name makes people more confident when approaching others in a sexual context. It further connects us to the object, or body part, and to the potential it has to make us happy.
Gem Blackthorn is QMT's Sex Columnist, and the author/curator of Lust Thrust Thursdays. Send her your submissions and questions at sexsexsex [at] queenmobs.com