It’s Raining Men


Sadomasochism is defined on the Merriam-Webster online dictionary as “the derivation of sexual gratification from the infliction of physical pain or humiliation either on another person or on oneself”. It is a common practice for partners who engage in sadomasochistic play to agree on a ‘safe word’ beforehand, as this ‘safe word’ would allow one party to tell the other party to stop whatever he or she is doing (Cameron & Kulick, 2003). This ‘safe word’ is needed for sadomasochistic play as words like ‘no’ or ‘stop’ serve a resistance function and are important to helping both parties achieve sexual pleasure (Cameron & Kulick, 2003). This is because the dominant partner derives pleasure from forcing his or her will on one who is powerless to resist, while the submissive partner derives pleasure from being overcome by the power shown by his or her partner (Cameron & Kulick, 2003).

Masochistic sexting will then require a ‘safe emoji’ as well, so that one party can let the other know that he or she is uncomfortable with the level of sadomasochistic play and to stop. The choice of a ‘safe emoji’ should be in line with the choice of a safe word, meaning that the ‘safe emoji’ should not express the meaning of ‘no’ or ‘to stop’. The ‘safe emoji’ should also stand out in context as “incongruous and unambiguous”, so that it is understood straight away. The most likely ‘safe emoji’ for Julie and Mike would thus be ?. This is because this emoji is a clearly irrelevant one in sadomasochistic play and carries no sexual connotation, showing just a toilet bowl.

In contrast, some emoji like the microphone or the cucumber could have sexual connotations as their shapes could be likened to a penis. The chain and key emojis are emojis that could be used frequently in sadomasochistic sexting to show the submissive party being chained and needing a key, so these emojis would not work as the ‘safe emoji’ as well. The water droplets could be interpreted as the discharge of fluids during orgasm.

Other facial and hand emojis listed here are unlikely to be used as the ‘safe emoji’ as they are ambiguous and can be taken by the other party as part of the sadomasochistic sexting. This is particularly the case for the ‘face screaming in fear’ emoji (?), the ‘loudly crying face’ emoji (?) as well as the ‘raised hand’ emoji which could be taken to mean stop (✋); where they usually express not wanting to continue, they would not be taken to mean that in sadomasochistic sexting, similar to how the word ‘no’ does not mean ‘no’ in sadomasochistic play.


Locker room banter could be more than just “male comedy”

I agree with the entries for ‘locker room talk’ on UrbanDictionary in that locker room banter is sexually charged, but it is also clear that they do not fully capture the social and interpersonal functions that locker room banter serves. The first entry states that it “exists solely for the purpose of male comedy”, but locker room banter can be seen to serve purposes beyond that.

The second entry rightly points out that locker room banter is held privately with “like-minded, similarly gendered peers”. This is a hint of the purposes it could serve, as locker room banter is usually carried out by a group of heterosexual males. Cameron and Kulick think that this kind of ‘heterosexual’ talk is “in fact primarily homosocial talk”, where the purpose of the locker room talk is to allow a group of males to bond with one another. The heterosexuality that is a common feature shared by everyone within the group, and this creates a kind of in-group identity. In particular, conversations that focus on the sexual experiences that they have had with females (such as the example in the second entry) index a man’s heterosexuality because desiring women is a characteristic of a heterosexual male and also emphasise that they do not desire men in a sexual way and are not homosexual.

The third entry states that locker room banter is not just about women, but also about minorities and immigrants. Of these minorities, homosexuals could also be the subject of the banter. Cameron and Kulick note that one gossip about gay men is also a “performative enactment” of heterosexuality by the group (2003). Similarly, this creates a kind of in-group identity among the group and helps the men to bond.



Cameron, D., & Kulick, D. (2003). Language and sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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