June 4, 2006

"The only thing I want to see that early, is coffee, the paper, and t*ts."

Said some guy explaining why he missed a morning basketball game, according to a column in Ladies Home Journal.

Did you read this post title and think hey, what's with that language on Althouse? It's from Ladies Home Journal. What's with that language in Ladies Home Journal?

And how bad is "t*ts," anyway? It's on the original George Carlin 7 Words You Can't Say on TV list, but even he, even way back when he started the list, immediately said "t*ts" didn't really belong on the list:
T*ts doesn't even belong on the list, you know. It's such a friendly sounding word. It sounds like a nickname. 'Hey, T*ts, come here. T*ts, meet Toots, Toots, T*ts, T*ts, Toots.' It sounds like a snack doesn't it? Yes, I know, it is, right. But I don't mean the sexist snack, I mean, New Nabisco T*ts. The new Cheese T*ts, and Corn T*ts and Pizza T*ts, Sesame T*ts Onion T*ts, Tater T*ts, Yeah. Betcha can't eat just one. That's true I usually switch off . But I mean that word does not belong on the list.


Jennifer said...

Ha, ha. In what order, I wonder?

The article was very interesting. My husband was just asking me about this the other day - what women talk about in the locker room. I said the very same thing as the author's wife.

Makes me jealous, too. I know I only get the tamest stuff passed on to me, but it still sounds like a lot more fun in the guys' locker room.

TWM said...

It's a good word. But most words for breasts are good words. Fun words. Or funny anyway.

Fun bags

Course that's a man's point of view.

No offense ladies, but the subject was tits. :)

As to the locker room. I haven't found that much conversation there. Perhaps it occurs in formal groups like guys who meet regularly to play basketball. I don't think guys who go on their own talk that much. Or maybe I just don't exercise as much as I should.

HaloJonesFan said...
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PatCA said...

I think it's quite vulgar, similar to the c-word, and don't think they should have used it. It's a classic feint used to appear edgy and critical of edginess at the same time. For a women's magazine, it also says "oh, those horrible boys."

TWM said...

Again, this is a man speaking, but I can't imagine tits being compared to the "c-word." The former is, in my mind anyway, playful, while the latter is just mean.

Ann Althouse said...

Pat: But it's not like the c-word, because you never try to insult anyone by calling him a tit. (Or do you?) All the worst words are things you can call somebody when you want to be mean.

That said, I don't like the word myself. It would never be my choice of term. (And there are SO many to choose from.)

PatCA said...

Well, "tits" in this article is a challenge of sorts. After all it's a women's magazine and they don't write about cancer of the tits. I agree it can be playful, but it's not in this context, that's all. I compare it to the c-word, because it makes me go "eeuw" when I hear it used in public. So that's just me and my sensibilities.

Ann Althouse said...

PatCA: Interesting observation. It made me Google "cancer of the tits." Zero! That's surprising. I note that the masculine equivalent "cancer of the balls" does come up, though not often. Interestingly, one quote is from Lars von Trier:

"I still fear cancer of the balls. That's the way it's supposed to be. I guess there's always something which prevents life from being easy. The breaks I've had in my life have been bloody short."

English is not his first language.

knoxgirl said...

Lars von Trier. Now there's something that makes me go ewww.

TWM said...

Hmmm, perhaps it is because men think of balls as the technical term. The "t-word" just sounds bad.

Ann Althouse said...

Bad? Not "friendly sounding"?

I agree, but how do you figure it being in Ladies' Home Journal?

paulfrommpls said...

Slightly off-topic - there doesn't exist a satisfactory word for the organ technically called the "penis." Which of course is the the most unsatisfying word in our language. But everything else is vulgar.

("Balls" is a great word but describes a nearby but different attribute.)

Ann Althouse said...

It's only your emotions that are making the words seem wrong. Change them.

Anthony said...

I always kind of liked the term 'jubblies', or at least ever since Austin Powers used it.

I think the chattiness of guys in locker rooms is a function of both time of day and the kind of place it is. I found that us early morning guys (6-6:30-ish) don't do much yakking, but when I've popped in later in the day, there has been more convo going on. Also the place I go now is mostly weight training, no real competitive stuff like handball or basketball; weights kind of attract the solitary weirdos, I think.

I think men and women act differently when nekkid depending on who it is they're nekkid around. A friend of mine was telling me how she was in the shower and yelled out to a (female) friend if she wanted to just jump in or should she turn off the water and stuff. They ended up just trading off, which, between two guys, would be totally bizarre behavior. OTOH, I told her us guys would stand around chatting about sports or whatever with another stark naked male in a locker room and think nothing of it.

Of course, we always assume y'all are in your locker rooms having mock towel fights in which the towels you wrap yourselves in keep slipping off, etc. That's the way it is, right?

paulfrommpls said...

Let me clarify: the word penis, for me, is icky. Too technical and something else too; seemingly a feeble attempt to drain the muscle in question of all virility.

The other words - say, for example, "cock" - I don't mind them. But they're received hesitantly at best in most contexts.

Just so you know, I have zero insecurities in this department. I am fully a confident male. Absolutely no doubt about that. Now I have to go to a craft fair with my wife.

TWM said...


By bad I guess I meant too medical. Not friendly sounding is right, I guess.

reader_iam said...

I'm not much of a fan of "tit" (though no WAY would I equate it with "c"), but perhaps that's mainly because 1) it makes me think of adolescent boys in of junior-high age and 2) my mind can't help completing the word with "-ty bars," an unappetizing phrase to me.

However, I think I may revise my attitude, if possible, after reading "fun bags." No offense, but I hate, hate, hate that phrase, at first sight.


Live and learn. And no accounting for what one person finds utterly repelling but another playful.

(twm: that's not singling out you. My reaction is just that: mine, no more, no less. For myself, "protection from offense" is not a right.)

Christy said...

Would it have been more acceptable spelled t-e-a-t?

Women in my experience don't stand around naked in the locker room so much. In my 25 years as a gym rat, I remember 2. One was a body builder who liked to strut. The other was making a point to a mother that she should take her children to the family changing room. Sure nakedness exists, but briefly. Standing around in underwear is another thing entirely, however.

The best talking about things one doesn't normally talk about? The steam room, lights off, with dense steam and one's best friends. For those of us of a certain age and with ladylike pretensions anyhow. That apparently we have in common with the guys.

Old Dad said...


Guys use "tits" in demeaning ways, almost always in reference to other guys. E.g, titty baby, worthless tit, tits on a boar.

My sense is that the c word is almost always highly offensive to women, and probably offensive to most guys when in the company of women, but not very offensive if at all in a locker room, but discretion is required.

It's all in the company you keep although I know Catholic priests who swear like sailors around the guys.

TWM said...


I didn't take your comment personally. I knew I was taking a small chance by using some of the other slang words for breasts, but how many chances does one get to say those words in an, shall we say, academic discussion.

Lights off in a steam room? Women do that? I've never seen that happen and, frankly, it would make me a tad nervous if a guy came in and flipped off the lights.

Course that is just me.

amba said...

TWM: You forgot boobs. Or is that a women's word?

amba said...

Ann: You can insult someone by calling him a boob.

amba said...

Paul: There used to be a bread store in our neighborhood called Ecce Panis. Naturally, we couldn't resist calling it Icky Penis.

Ann Althouse said...

Amba: Good point about boob... And Ecco Panis... LOL.

I'd just like to say that "tit" seems to refer to something very small. I find that strange.

Also, I'd just like to say this post, with these comments, is going to attract Google searchers for the rest of this blog's days. That wasn't my intention. I'm just realizing that it's true.

amba said...

In "Carrie," the psychotic fundie mother called them "sin pillows."

"Tits" to me is onomatopoetic and is too teeny tiny a word to evoke a breast -- it sounds more like just a nipple, like an animal's teats.

But I find all these words poetic in one way or another, even when they're insulting. Even the "c" word, whch is onomatopoetic too, sort of snug- fitting and rubbery. And I've always gotten a huge kick out of the word "pussy." They're the poetry of the mixed emotions between the sexes.

downtownlad said...

No when people Google "cancer of the tits" they're going to get this blog.

amba said...

Last word: if they're really big, they could be bazooms . . .

Camping out in Vermont once we went to the little local store for beer and a guy walked in, eyed me and said in a predatory voice, "Nice rack." That one gave me a chill, because it implied that he'd just as soon shoot me and hang them on the wall as a trophy. I got right away that it was a hunter's term -- it's what they call a mounted set of antlers from a trophy buck.

amba said...

Oh, I can't shut up on this subject, I have another story. In the late '60s, when it was all the thing to go braless, I tried it once. I am not a size D but I'm not built to go braless either. There was a lot of . . . motion. A cop passed me on the street and said out of the corner of his mouth, "The cannonball express." In my early 20s, I was mortified and never went without a bra again. Now I think it's pretty funny.

TWM said...

This conversation just reminded me of a post about women's breasts I did at my blog not too long ago.


In it I try to fit as many slang words for them as possible. It was, is, meant to be in good humor so take a chance and read it if you wish.

Ann Althouse said...

I feel like co-authoring a play with amba: "The Tit Monologues." Or should it be Dialogues?

Susan said...

So I'm thinking what I need to do to get my guy to open up and talk more is redecorate my bathroom. Out with the shabby chic furnishings, lavender essential oils and colorful Martha Stewart towels and shower curtain. In with lockers, benches, open shower and white towels. Then, get him naked.

Ann Althouse said...

"Nice rack" -- I'm picturing more of a pool table concept.

Ann Althouse said...

Susan: Brilliant!

knoxgirl said...

One of the funnniest moment in Anchorman is when the announcer for the local news introduces Christina Applegate as "Tits McGee"

altoids1306 said...

I don't think talkativeness among men is purely dependent on the level of dress. I think the sports/gym context is probably more important. In college, we had semi-communal showers, and it was dead-silent the entire time. In fact, it was an unspoken convention to time your exit so that no more than one person was in the dressing area at any time.

On the other hand, I have definitely overheard multiple women singing together in the shower. Sorority rushee bonding? One can only speculate.

amba said...

Susan -- I'm not sure if that idea belongs in Cosmopolitan or Architectural Digest, but you may be on to something.

Ann -- the Titalogues? (Titalongs?) Hmmm. Laying claim to some risqué part of the anatomy as one's turf seems to be a reliable shortcut to wealth and fame, or at least notoriety.

Ann Althouse said...

Maybe a musical: "Tits!"

reader_iam said...
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reader_iam said...


Push-Button Publishing
Delete Comment From: Althouse
OK, I'll bet I'm the last on this thread, but I just have to say:

Only a bit ago did I get around to sharing some anecdotes from this thread with my husband, including the new thing I learned, "fun bags."

First, he laughed, because it's not so often that there's a phrase, in any area, that he's heard that I've not.

Then he proceeded to list other "-bag" variations.

Then he did so for a couple of those, in iSpanish

Then in Italian.

My husband freely and openly admits that his "weak link" is foreign language. And it's true.

Yet this.

(From the man who doesn't use the word "damn." And who has been munificently willing to overlook my vast personal knowledge of, well, both explicit and merely suggestive--shall we say---"slang," as long as I don't use it, which I don't, generally speaking, and haven't for years. Not equatin', only sayin'.)

The contemplation of tits bring out the damndest things in people, and who am I to comment?

So it goes. And so the paradigm shifts.


Wurly said...


I immediately thought of "Anchorman" when I read Ann's post. The use of "Tits McGee" is supposed to be insulting to the new lady anchor, but Applegate's nonchalance turns the tables and makes the scene hilarious.

Wickedpinto said...

I have used the C word ONCE in insulting a woman. MANY times when insulting a man. I use it for men.

I don't think tits is bad, it just sounds a little dirty, I blame it on the harsh consanant of T. "gigs" or "lils" or any other softer consanent were used to describe the wonderfuly round softness that exists on a womans chest, then it wouldn't sound offensive. It's just the harsh consanent of T.

At least thats my opinion, cuz I firmly belive that while "tits" might be an unpleasent word, it describes BEAUTIFUL THINGS!

Quick joke as an aside. I had a bud who, when we would go out, would categorize every woman that crossed our path. "She's a ten" "she's a 5" "she's a 6" etc.

one time he asked me what I thought of a particular woman that he wanted to sleep with and I said "she's a 6," which I really thought, but he got defensive so, being a guy, I had to define myself in a way that he would accept when he asked "a 6! only a 6!" and I responded, "yeah no seven till I get nipples."

After that, it became a running joke, that each night we would go out we would define whether we were gonna stop off at a local bar have a drink or two and go home to sleep, or if we were gonna be skanking, we would say "it's a six night" if we were just gonna relax after work (swing shift) or if we were gonna skank, which would be "at least a seven."

SWBarns said...

To quote Python:

Shut your festering gob, you tit! Your type really makes me puke, you vacuous, coffee-nosed, maloderous, pervert!!!

The Young Ones also used "you tit" as an insult.