sadomasochistic sexting and sex-positivity

Question 1:

Julie and Mike are into sadomasochistic sexting. Which among these emojis is most likely their ‘safe emoji’? Why?

Sadomasochistic scenes are a case of sexual activity where the word ‘no’ does not actually mean ‘no’ (Cameron & Kulick, 2003). Sending sexual messages especially with emojis can, therefore, be messy and parties involving themselves should be more careful in choosing their safe emojis.

As mentioned in my previous blog post, there are two types of emoji text. Adjunctive, where emojis are used alongside text, and substitutive, where emojis are used wholly in place of text (Danesi, 2017). In this case, assuming Julie’s and Mike’s sadomasochistic sexting is substitutive, whatever emoji they decide on should not be open to more than one interpretation.

Here are my interpretations of the emojis:

????? – These face emoji are expressions of pleasure and pain, which are emotions relating to sadomasochistic activities.

?? – Either party may be concerned about any violation of sexual confidentiality as sexting involves a lot of dirty talk. Hence, these emojis may be used to indicate ‘what happens in this chat, stays in this chat’. (Gallagher, 2013)

? – While I initially thought this could be a ‘safe emoji’, it was found according to Gallagher (2013) that this could be used to inform the other party of a bathroom break, so as to not break the flow of the sexting.

? – The water emoji could indicate bodily fluids during the sexual activity.

?⛓ – Sadomasochistic scenes involve chains, and chains require keys.

✋ – Words such as ‘no’, ‘stop’ or ‘slow down’ cannot function as safe words (Cameron & Kulick, 2003), and this hand emoji could index exactly that. This emoji could also indicate spanking, also involved during sex – hence, most likely not their safe emoji.

? – This hand gesture carries many meaning, an ‘okay’, ‘good’ or ‘done’. Thus, too ambiguous to be a safe emoji.

? – The pill emoji could indicate a consensual use of drugs, perhaps to increase sexual drive or create a peaceful high during sex.

? – This could suggest anal sex or perhaps a fetish of Julie’s or Mike’s, who knows.

(zucchini/pickle-looking vegetable) – Could be viewed as a phallic symbol.

? – The microphone emoji could also be viewed as a phallic symbol, or perhaps the dominant partner requesting the submissive to be louder.

In conclusion, I would think their safe emoji would be ‘❕’ as it is the emoji that would stand out and is unambiguous – an important factor to consider when choosing a safe word, or in this case, emoji. Additionally, the exclamation mark used is in white instead of red (also available in the emoji keyboard), which is less alarming and therefore, indexing ‘safe’.

Question 3:

What does it mean to be ‘sex-positive’? You can start by reading thisthis, and this. What are, in your opinion, its implications for contemporary identity politics?

After reading the articles, I feel that being sex-positive is to be accepting of other people’s sexuality and their sexual choices. It is doing against shaming or name-calling those who do not practice the same as you. Oddly though, sex-positive women are not treated positively and may receive the shaming too. To be sex-positive is also to accept the practices that go beyond the realms of heteronormative sexual relations.

Sex-positivity pose problems in today’s contemporary identity politics towards those who are in LGBTQ. It may be problematic as while they try to fight for their rights, and as they find their own identity and come out of the ones assigned to them, it only accepts their sexual behavior but not so much their identity.


Cameron, D., & Kulick, D. (2003). Language and Sexuality. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Danesi, M. (2017). The Semiotics of Emoji: The Rise of Visual Language in the Age of the Internet. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Gallagher, B. (2013). 10 Emojis to Send While SextingComplex. Retrieved 10 April 2018, from


Language, sex, and food are inevitable components in our lives. We cannot run away from the fact that all three elements are basic needs; parts of the foundation of our nature as human beings. We are required to fill our stomachs, so as to not starve. We are sexually frustrated when we have libido but unable to release the sexual tension. And as social creatures, we yearn to communicate. Essentially, all three elements have a common feature: desire. We desire and hence, require satisfying the pleasure. Whether the desire is described as ‘lust’ or ‘love’, ‘hunger’ or ‘appetite’, the need is there.

So how does our society use language to express these desires – be it food or sex? This post will attempt to explore and discuss the connection of all three elements: language, sex, and food.

One aspect of the nexus of language, sex, and food is sexualising something or someone as food through language use. Let’s take a look at a number of examples.

1. “I’m thirsty for that d” – the word ‘thirst’ in this context does not mean feeling a need to drink but instead, shows a strong desire for a guy’s male genitalia.

Similarly, 2. “eating someone out” is a term that suggests performing cunnilingus or fellatio on someone. In this case, the language used to describe a sexual activity indexes a food-related activity instead.

Likewise, 3. “he is looking like a snack right now” sexualises a guy as a meal. The sentence refers to a man who is so attractive, there is a desire to eat him up – just like how one sees an aesthetically appealing food and hence, have a desire to eat it.

From these examples, we can see how food-related nouns, verbs, and adjectives have made its way into pop culture as slangs to sexualise a person. The original meaning of those words now have an added sexual connotation to them; a double entendre. A double entendre is an expression that can be understood in two different ways: harmless and clear-cut, or indirectly insinuating something sexual (Kiddon & Brun, 2011).

Additionally, other terms like ‘sexual appetite’ and ‘hungry for sex’ are similar ways of how we describe sex like a hunger we have to satisfy. Undoubtedly, this is possibly due to the fact that both the act of eating and having sex requires satisfying the body’s need.

Another aspect of language, sex, and food coming to play is when we describe food in a sexualised manner. In recent times, words such as foodporn and foodgasm have sprouted and these newly coined words are perfect examples of how words are blended to give a new meaning, and in this case, get sexualised.

The word ‘foodporn’ is a portmanteau of ‘food’ and ‘porn’ – where the image of food is so aesthetically appealing, it makes your mouth water and have the desire to eat it, while the word ‘foodgasm’ is a blend of ‘food’ and ‘orgasm’ – a pleasurable sensation you get, similar to orgasm, when the food is just so good. According to Jameson (2015), foodgasm demonstrates and authenticates a physical response to food.

An example of this aspect is sexualised food advertising. Most times, the way food is presented or described in food advertising are sexually suggestive. The same way language use during teasing in foreplay gets people excited, sexualised food advertising draws us in with similar ways. It piques people’s interest; we are intrigued and amused at the wordplay and drawn to this form of eroticism. A study done by Poon (2016), which investigated the function of sexual imagery and visual seduction in food advertising, found that seduction messages for food products have the potential to incite hedonistic imagination. In addition to that, to entice people’s attention and reaction, suggestive visual imagery is often invoked by making the seductive nature of the subject an important factor (Poon, 2016).

Since it is taboo or forbidden to talk about sex openly and publicly, it seems that we have found a way to work around it through metaphors and euphemism. Whether it is sexualising someone as food or describing food in a sexualised way, this language use gives the sense of imagery – both in food and sex.

Another aspect of language, sex, and food coming to play is in sexting, particularly with emojis. The word ‘sexting’ is a portmanteau of ‘sex’ and ‘texting’ (i.e., sending sexual messages via mobile phones). The rise and growth of digital communication have evolved the way we sext, especially with the emergence of emoji.

Emoji enables people for better communicators in their digital lives as it facilitates the expression of emotions (Evans, 2017). According to Danesi (2017), there are two types of emoji text. Emoji used alongside text is adjunctive, and emoji used wholly in place of text is substitutive. Sexting adopts both adjunctive and substitutive type. When employed in a different way, emojis might have different symbolism. Emojis have their own connotations individually and in combination. For example, the eggplant ?, taco ? and peach ? emoji represent their respective food but also doubles as body parts that are not featured in the emoji keyboard: penis, vagina, and butt (Highfield & Leaver, 2016). When investigating the relationship between emoji usage and sexual successes, it was found that emoji usage correlates with reported sexual satisfaction. Additionally, the more emojis a singleton uses, the more dates they go on and therefore, the more sex they have (Evans, 2017).

All in all,  sex and food remains to be intertwined by language because that is how we express ourselves and our desires. As times evolve, perhaps newer references to sex and food will continue to be made.


Danesi, M. (2017). The Semiotics of Emoji: The Rise of Visual Language in the Age of the Internet. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Evans, V. (2017). The Emoji Code: How Smiley Faces, Love Hearts and Thumbs Up are Changing the Way We Communicate. Great Britain: Michael O’Mara Books.

Highfield, T., & Leaver, T. (2016). Instagrammatics and digital methods: studying visual social media, from selfies and GIFs to memes and emoji. Communication Research And Practice, 2(1), 47-62.

Jameson, S. (2015). Televisual Senses: The Embodied Pleasures of Food Advertising. The Journal Of Popular Culture, 48(6), 1068-1088.

Kiddon, C., & Brun, Y. (2011). That’s what she said: double entendre identification. In Proceedings of the 49th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies: short papers-Volume 2, 89-94. Association for Computational Linguistics.

Poon, S. (2016). The Function of Sexual Imagery and Visual Seduction in Food Advertising. International Journal Advances In Social Science And Humanities, 4(3), 22-27.

your body. your life. your choices.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

“If you haven’t, you’re a prude. If you have, you’re a slut. It’s a trap.”

The Breakfast Club came out in 1985 and surprise, what Allison Reynolds said then is still alive and well 30 years later.

Slut-shaming or prude-shaming is both a phenomenon that polices how women choose or don’t choose, to express themselves sexually. And they are both problematic as they are both seen negatively. On one end, there is slut-shaming – shamed for having too much sex and on another, there is prude-shaming – shamed for not having enough or any. I mean, is there a way to come out unscathed? This is the case of damned if you do, and damned if you don’t, am I right?

The sexual standard between men and women exists in this phenomenon too. Men who sleep around are admired for their ‘game’ and are considered studs or players. But when a woman does the same? She is deemed as a slut – looked down upon by both men and women.

Honestly, I struggle to understand how a woman’s sexual choices can become the topic of conversation for others. How and where you prefer to get pleasure is nobody’s business but your own.

Where is the line between being a slut and a prude anyway? Who determines how many sexual partners a woman can have before she is labeled a slut? Is there a similar term used for men based on how many partners they have chosen to be intimate with?

Definitely, Maybe (2008)

Additionally, it is alarming that these terms are said to women at a very young age. In a study done by Lippman and Campbell (2014) on adolescent sexting, it was found that labels such as slut and prude, were commonly used to judge girls on whether they sext or not. Although the girls in the study were no more likely than boys to sext, it was revealed that they were more likely to experience pressure to sext, particularly from boys.

In the book ‘I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet’ by Leora Tanenbaum, it was mentioned that slut-shaming does not motivate other girls to remain chaste. In fact, an overwhelming majority of the girls and women who were labeled sluts, become more, not less, sexually active as a direct result of being labeled as one.

So why do we do this? Why slut and prude shame? Sexual decision making is the choice of the individual. I vote we cancel shaming anyone for the amount of sex they have. If you can fuck anyone, you can also not fuck anyone.

Because at the end of the day, YOUR VAGINA, YOUR RULES.

  1. Here’s an article that shares my sentiments:

  2. Here’s a poem by R. H. Sin that explains slut/prude shaming:
  3. Here’s the scene to show what led up to Allison Reynolds saying those three lines:



Lippman, J., & Campbell, S. (2014). Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t…If You’re a Girl: Relational and Normative Contexts of Adolescent Sexting in the United States. Journal Of Children And Media8(4), 371-386.

Sin, R. Planting gardens in graves.

Tanenbaum, L. (2015). I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet. Harper Collins.