*Heavy breathing* *Gasping* *YES!*


In the article Call of the Wild, Language of Love – Sex Noises That Will Drive You (and Him) Wild, author Andrea Boltz draws on how language can serve as a powerful tool for improving sex lives. More specifically, housed under Women’s Health Magazine, the article provides advice for females, on how they can utilise certain aspects of language to enact desire and create intimacy. The author considers nonverbal language just as powerful when it comes to sex. For instance, playing on visual cues such as body language (kinesics) and touch (haptics) are just as capable, or even more effective in contributing to a wholesome sexual experience, as being verbal about it. On a closer look, it is evident that much of the discourse within the article shed light on the differences in mental function and behaviours between heterosexual males and females, and how the readers can work their way around these to achieve better sexual experiences. Besides reviewing on the content presented in the article, I will also consider the author’s language use.

In the light of language use in the bedroom, Boltz raised the importance of the semiotics of desire – the sigh-Q. Drawing parallels to the fake orgasm scene in When Harry met Sally, as mentioned by Cameron and Kulick (2003), both verbal and nonverbal cues like heavy breathing, gasping and moaning are being socially conventionalised and made meaningful by human experience and communication. Boltz suggests that by simply producing these semiotic signs, one is able to communicate the idea that she is enjoying the deed and so will her partner. Quoting her, “Take a breath and feign confidence” and “pretend you’re 10 times bolder than you actually are.”

In another example, Boltz draws on how different sexes differ in their language use during sex – women are more likely to use emotionally laden words while men gravitate towards visual language and explicit talk: e.g., “Yeah you like that, you [completely inappropriate and startling synonym for prostitute]”. The author injects her disapproval for the stereotypical masculine way of speaking, but quickly followed with “… but this may only mean that he has seen one too many pornos and is just parroting the dialogue”. According to Robin Lakoff (1975), men and women indeed subscribe to different styles of speech and harbour different motivations behind their language use. However, by casually sliding a convenient excuse for men’s use of a derogatory term on women, Boltz downplays the seriousness of slut-shaming. According to Jeremy Nicholson, “Languages communicates not only information, but meaning and feelings and symbols of (our) internal realities.” What seems like a mere passing remark may very all be a manifestation of thought into deed.

The article consistently encourages women to break the silence during sex, urging women to step out of their comfort zones to verbalise their desires. Like Boltz’s, contemporary articles regarding heterosexual relationships seem to have evolved as we see a shift from the positioning of females as the subordinate role, to an almost equal portrayal of women and men in the playing field. It is heartening to see that many women are now able to talk about their sexuality and desires freely, more than ever. By opening up an avenue for women to discuss about what-would-have-been-considered-taboo matters, we are slowly removing the stigma that only men are able to portray and talk about their sexual desires.

This is largely owing to the fourth wave of feminism, which placed huge emphasis on the pressing issues of sexual assault and harassment as well as the rape culture. In the past, we used to pathologise female sexual behaviour by posing expectations to how a woman should dress and behave. These expectations and norms of modest female behaviour has been noted in numerous literary and non-literary works, and much of the discourse in articles regarding heterosexual relationships revolved mainly around how women should or can help men get off better. Today, we see a revolution where these traditional pathologies are being reinvented. Females, better late than never, are stepping up in sexual discourse. More tasteful literary about women and sex also surfaced, giving women more confidence to talk and discuss about their wants, needs, and fantasies.

While this sex for dummies guide may be accurate about heterosexual males and females to a certain extent, the author did not consider that in reality, not all readers fit perfectly into this mould. Although not explicitly stated, it is obvious that Boltz’s article is specifically targeted at only heterosexual female readers while conveniently neglecting diversity among women. Like many other articles on Women’s Health Magazine, they failed to address both heterosexuals and homosexuals. This is in itself a long-standing issue of compulsory heterosexuality/heteronormativity. Especially for a magazine like Women’s Health whose “About” page is all about “reaching a new generation of women who don’t like the way most women’s magazines make them feel”, we should stop treating heterosexuality as the norm, and instead, challenge the notions of heteronormativity by embracing diversity starting from language use.



Bartz, A. (2018). Call of the Wild. Women’s Health. Retrieved 1 March 2018, from https://www.womenshealthmag.com/relationships/language-of-love

Cameron, D., & Kulick, D. (2010). Language and sexuality (pp. 62-92). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lakoff, R. (1973). Language and Woman’s Place. Language in Society, 2(1), 45-80. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg/stable/4166707

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