It’s raining men


Sado-masochism (BDSM) practices involve a variety of erotic practices often involving role-playing, bondage, dominance and submission between two or more sexual parties. BDSM is built on the enjoyment of extreme intercourse activities, often inflicting pain or humiliation, which participants derive sexual pleasure from (Damm, Dentato & Busch, 2017). There is the presence of a power structure between participants, where one acts as the dominant role while the other, the submissive role, indicating respectively the controlling or receptive participants. A safe-word is agreed between parties beforehand, usually for the submissive role to indicate the wish to stop an action due to reasons such as unbearable pain.

In the light of this, taking into account Julie and Mike is involved in BDSM sexting, the safe-word would then serve the purpose of indicating their preference or disfavor for a certain sexual act, which he or she is likely to withdraw from in actual BDSM practice. A likely emoji to be used as a safe word between this context would be that of the pill (?) emoji. The explicit hand (✋) and crying (?) emojis would not be ideal to serve as a safe word as BDSM is built on the enjoyment of pain and discomfort. Hence such signs would not be interpreted as disfavor of a certain sexual advancement. In this context, ‘no’ does not simply mean ‘no’, while ‘yes’ continues to exert the meaning of consent. Other emojis indicating explicit portrayal of emotions or BDSM related equipment would also flout with the reason that it indicates enjoyment and pleasure in the world of BDSM.

A safe-word would therefore usually involve a generic symbol, for instance the pill emoji, which does not symbolise anything with regards to the BDSM context.


UrbanDictionary’s top 1 and 3 definitions of ‘Locker Room Talk’ seems to describe the activity as largely held between men which involves offensive and degrading comments toward members of out-group. Definition 2 ropes in the idea that females are in fact capable of engaging in Locker Room Talk around sexually charged topics, and that such conversations are being viewed as inappropriate in public domains, which can only be held privately.

These, however, do not fully capture the what the term is. According to an example provided in Chapter 2 of Language and Sexuality by Cameron & Kulick (2003), such sexual exchanges are common within public domains as well, for instance when hostesses engage in sex-talk as part of their jobs in hostess clubs. These verbal exchanges serve social and interpersonal functions between the clients, to establish informal and non-hierarchical environments between interlocutors – what appears to be homosocial talk, which mainly allows men to bond over. The hostesses then, are mainly objects for the men to talk about and agree on. This also illustrates some form of gender imbalance, as such conversations usually entail the degrading and objectification of the female subjects. This then serves as another function for the males to exert heteromasculinity by displaying traits of dominance and power over the female subjects.

In the first definition, it states that “[Locker room talk] Exists solely for the purpose of male comedy and is not meant to be taken seriously”. This downplays the seriousness of certain issues presented in such verbal exchanges as harmless (which often involve the objectification and downgrading of females), providing perhaps an excuse and leeway to justify those who engage in such exchanges and harbour sexist and chauvinistic ideologies.

Also see Robin Lakoff’s take on Trump’s ‘Locker Room Talk’ debate here, where she deconstructs the idea of ‘Locker Room Banter’. Citing,

“First, the actual utterance did not take place in a locker room, but out of doors in a place accessible to the public. So at the very least, we would have to understand “locker room” as somehow metaphorical or, to use Trump’s own favorite weasel word, “sarcastic.”

She argues that the actual conversation that happened did not in fact take place in a locker room, or a place that metaphorically represented a locker room. In addition, she adds on to argue that the construction of the term demonstrates Trump’s misogynistic attitudes towards females, in that they

“exist purely for Trump’s personal gratification and/or denigration.”

and the fact that many are picking up the term indicates a shared consensus that such conversations are merely ‘harmless banter’ amongst men. She also urged readers to think about the consequences if Trump’s locker room talk had brought in racial and religious issues instead, if such a conversation would still be acceptable as harmless ‘locker room banter’.


Cameron, D., & Kulick, D. (2003). Language and sexuality (pp. 25-29). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Damm, C., Dentato, M., & Busch, N. (2017). Unravelling intersecting identities: understanding the lives of people who practice BDSM. Psychology & Sexuality9(1), 21-37.

Lakoff, R. (2018). Locker Room Banter 101 | Robin Lakoff. Retrieved 10 April 2018, from

Urban Dictionary: safeword. (2018). Urban Dictionary. Retrieved 10 April 2018, from