LA comedian Cathy Carlson has attempted to trademark the phrase “You cum like a girl.” The story has made news because the judge turned her request down on the grounds that the word “cum” was “scandalous and vulgar” and you can’t have trademarks on rude words, it seems (a fact for which I’m quite pleased).
The story also made news because one of the lawyers made use of copious amounts of porn photos to prove the point that “cum” means a man ejaculating on a woman’s face… and that was “scandalous”.
The Feminist Law Professors Blog has a good post on the whole subject, including the legal ins and outs and this rather concise point:
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Carlson is correct that Shanahanâ€™s inability to conceptualize â€œcumâ€ in any way other than a male ejaculating on a woman is disturbing, especially since cumming like a girl suggests an absence of semen altogether.
What I’m wondering about is the phrase itself. It’s, well, kinda dumb. On Carlson’s site she only has this to say about it:
If you are staring at the phrase YOU CUM LIKE A GIRL, and you are thinking about emailing me to ask me what it means….please note: this site requires a sense of humor.
So, I’ve got quite the sense of humour, but this one isn’t really doing it for me. I can see a vague hint of amusement about it if you associate the phrase with “running like a girl.” When executed properly, “running like a girl” can be a wonderful bit of slapstick, even if it does have that juvenile tone about it. But “cumming like a girl”? Where does that fit into stand up comedy?
Apparently Carlson used it as a way to open her act, by picking out a guy in the audience and saying “I’ll bet you cum like a girl.” “Then everyone would laugh,” she says. “It worked for me.” I can see it may be useful in breaking the ice – a shocking comment aimed at an audience member like that is a fairly standard device in stand-up.
But here’s where I get all frowny and over analytical and finger waggy. In Carlson’s context it’s phrased as an accusation, as though it’s a deficiency. It suggests that women’s orgasms are second rate. Not impressive enough. Stupid and girly. Full of girl germs.
It also suggests that a man has to meet some kind of goal with his orgasm; he has to cum hard, or loudly and probably slam down a beer, or else he’s being too womanish. If a man cums like a girl, what happens? Does he get squealy? Does he gush? Does he need a vibrator to get there? And if he does that, does this mean he’s not showing enough manliness in bed?
It’s depressing, really. There’s so many other expectations surrounding orgasm without undeconstructed gender roles elbowing in on our most vulnerable moment.
And what does it mean if you say this to a woman? It feels like the response should be, “Well, duh.”
Carlson is bringing out shirts that say “I cum like a girl.” She also says she’s “empowering women” with the phrase, although I’m not sure how. What happens if you’re a girl and you cum like a man? Is there a Marlboro and a horse involved?
I don’t want to be all Andrea Dworkin about this but the phrase just irks me. It has too many negative overtones for me to like it. It’s like calling someone a “retard” and then expecting them to laugh it off.
Like the feminist law professors, I won’t be buying one of those shirts anytime soon.