Do you get the quickie?



Sex Squicks

Okay. Who likes sucking scrotums? Subincision? Saliva drooled into your mouth while kissing? You all can get over on that side of the room. What about farting during sex, ripe body odor, or fuckable facsimiles of adult film performers? You have sex how many times a day? Who do you have it with? Go on, cluster together so we all know who you are! Now, everyone join me in a chorus of “OMG! How GROSS!” and point at all the people who are not in your group. Feel better?

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about sex squicks. According to the Urban Dictionary, “squick,” either as a noun or a verb, refers to a “physical sense of repulsion experienced upon encountering a concept or situation one finds disgusting.” As a noun, squick can mean the reaction itself or the concept or situation causing the reaction. As a verb, you can either cause a squick or experience one. Or both.

According to an account at, the word originated back in the mid-'90’s on the alt.tasteless newsgroup as the answer to the question, “What is the sound of a good skull fucking?” and was later picked up by a BDSM group and others. Today the word is widely used in fan fiction and slash fiction circles, without much, if any, specific reference to skull penetration. One wag has apparently proposed the term “bisquick” to indicate disgusted reactions to bisexual scenes in slash fiction. We’ll see if this catches on.

Disgusted reactions to all kinds of sexual behavior seem to combine visceral sensations with socially determined (but arbitrary) standards of behavior, personal likes and dislikes, ignorance, misunderstanding, a deeply ingrained sense of shame, all within the context of pervasive, cultural sex negativity. What’s not to like?

Squick is in the viscera of the beholder. I am on good terms (usually) with a certain kinky young man who says he just can’t read most of my columns. Certain kinds of vanilla cuteness makes him gack, like suburbanites wearing barbeque aprons that say “fry my buns,” things like that. Just the thought of leprechaun porn causes him to squick. Well, LepPorn’s not my thing either, but I don’t squick in a way that prevents me from writing about it. On the contrary, I seem to experience perverse enjoyment in encountering twisted vagaries of human behavior and then writing about such things. (There may a psychological term for my perverse enjoyment, but I haven’t come across it yet.)

At the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (aka “the Institute”), a lot of our sexological training involved bumping into and stumbling over our own personal squicks and especially those of others. The instructors developed many clever gambits. For example, in our SAR Guide for a Better Sex Life (1975), there was a page of capitalized words run together with no spacing whatsoever. This page was called “Turn-Ons” and I guess the idea was to underline the things that appealed to us, like one of those quaint word games one used to give sick children for amusement back in the old days. It began,
“COKEPIZZALOXANYTHINGAFTERALONGHIKE.” Okay, so, “rice mounds”? These are sexy? Who knew! And as for “baby’s bottom,” well, those were different times and the person who wrote this thing was probably stoned. These days, few would venture to include that phrase in such a document for fear of being accused of encouraging pedophilia. (A major squick for many people, I dare say. It’s certainly one of mine.)

Thing is, that page could just as easily have been titled “Turn-Offs.” I found a few of mine: WHISKEYONBREATHPERFUMEPIPETOBACCOSMOKETELEVISIONMANYCARS. However a mechaphile might really like the MANYCARS and an objectum sexual the STAIRBANNISTER. Takes all kinds.

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Amy Marsh
April 7th, 2010
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As Carnal Nation's wondrous publishing spree sinks slowly into the sands of time, I invite you to scroll down for links to all my "Love's Outer Limits" columns - a year's worth of weekly writing -...