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The Body Parts That Must Not Be Named

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"He put his thingy in my you-know-what and we HAD SEX!"
Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way, My Immortal

This trope is when it's not only considered Not Safe for Work/kids/etc to show the genitals, but to say the words for them too.

The exact levels of censorship vary: sometimes, only technical terms like "penis", "scrotum", "vagina", and "vulva" are censored, while casual terms like "willy" and "vajayjay" are allowed. On the other hand, sometimes, clinical terms are allowed while slang terms aren't. Sometimes, no words that actually mean the genitals are allowed, so euphemisms such as "down there" and "you-know-what" are said instead, sometimes writers just make euphemisms up.

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When this trope is in play, it may also extend to the inner reproductive anatomy, such as the uterus and prostate, but not always.

Many kids' shows are not allowed to say the words, not even in child-friendly contexts, unless it's meant to be educational, and sometimes not even then. In fact, this trope is often why works which try to teach about "good and bad touches" end up being clumsily-written.

Some "Nannybots" meant to censor online profanity will censor anatomical words as well, which may lead to the Scunthorpe Problem.

However, this trope isn't limited to child-friendly works: some M-rated works censor anatomical words too, even though their target audience is usually way too old for that to be a problem. Heck, even Hentai uses this trope sometimes.

It must be noted that this isn't any instance of the use of euphemisms or words like "wiener". Sometimes, euphemisms and slang might be played solely for comedy, and the use of euphemisms might be just appropriate dialogue for a character who's a prude. Ditto for slang and characters who tend to use it in general. Signs that it is this trope include:

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  • The work does not have an Everyone Rating.
  • Alternatively, the work does have an Everyone rating, but the censorship is for a word in a non-sexual situation, e.g. "I hurt my penis."
  • The work mentions sex, contains profanity, deals with heavy topics, or even a combination.
  • A translation of a work removes or changes a non-profane word for the genitals.
  • A work or scene had to be removed or edited solely due to featuring an anatomical word.
  • The euphemism or whatever sounds unnatural and it would make more sense to just say the word and this unnatural effect doesn't make sense in-universe.

A subtrope of Bowdlerize if the prohibition on terms comes from an external source (probably Moral Guardians). Compare Nipple and Dimed and Never Say "Die" for other taboos. Also compare Sexual Euphemism for ways of avoiding saying what you might do with those bathing suit parts. For extra fun, may be combined with IKEA Erotica.

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Despite the name similarity, The Disease That Shall Not Be Named is only partially related to this trope because censorship is only one reason that the disease shall not be named. See Speak of the Devil and The Scottish Trope for other things some people want to avoid naming.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Kobayashi turns into a man and she and Tohru always refer to her penis as "that", "one of those", or, in some unofficial translations, a "thingy".
  • In Sailor Moon, Sailor Star Maker has an attack called "Star Gentle Uterus". The first English translation of the manga renamed it "Star Gentle Creator".
  • Shimoneta features an exaggerated In-Universe example. In a near-future Japan where everything that is "immoral", from pornography to talking about anything related to sex or genitals — including dirty jokes — has been made illegal, everyone has to use highly sanitized euphemisms... except for the perverted terrorist "Blue Snow", who revels in flouting the law by dressing up in nothing but a blanket on her body and a panty as a makeshift mask and publicly spouting the most explicit vulgarities and sexual jokes ever invented by man (though those are censored for the audience's "benefit").

    Comic Books 

    Fanfiction 
  • In My Immortal, an infamously bad Harry Potter fanfiction, there are multiple sex scenes in addition to swear words, suicide, and even Satanism, and the narrator Ebony is obviously not a prude, yet she still describes the genitals with words such as "boys' thingy", "thingy", "you-know-what", and even "Spock".
  • In the Kingdom Hearts fanfiction Those Lacking Spines, the three protagonists Vexen, Lexaeus, and Xaldin travel to different worlds seeking to get rid of the Semes of their Uke-fied friends. With the exception of Larxene, the Semes have taken the friends' testicles, which are only as the "...you know". The penis also is mentioned once and is called the "that".
  • Papa Smurf has a talk with Smurfette about sex in an Empath: The Luckiest Smurf mini-story, where, more for the sake of the audience than for her ears, he refers to genitalia as "boy parts" and "girl parts".

    Film — Animated 
  • Heavy Metal: When Den appears on the planet Neverwhere in his new body, he's naked and covers himself with a cloth, narrating that there was no way he was going to walk around with his "dork" hanging out.
  • In The Rugrats Movie, Didi is pregnant with Tommy's younger brother Dil, but they don't know what the sex is yet. The doctor thought it might be a girl, but Charlotte starts a rhyme "Born under Venus, look for a—" but is interrupted before she can say the last word.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Parodied in Austin Powers: the Spy Who Shagged Me. When Dr. Evil flies his phallic-shaped rocket, everybody on the ground describes it as "looking like a..." only to be cut off with the scene changing to another person saying a synonym for penis in an unrelated context.
  • In Too Smart For Strangers With Winnie-the-Pooh, Pooh calls genitals "bathing suit parts".

    Literature 
  • In Gulliver’s Travels, the private parts are referred to as "the parts that nature taught us to conceal".
  • The children's book Its OK To Say No meant to teach kids about how to be safe from molesters, has several stories about kids saying no, a few of which directly involve touching, but the wording is vague, with phrases such as "touched him/her in a way that made him/her feel very uncomfortable".
  • In Little Zizi, the boy Martin's penis is always referred to by the euphemism "zizi".
  • Wicked: 9-year old Nor tells her mother that her two brothers forced Liir (who unknowingly is their half-brother) to pull down his pants and show him his "thing" in order to prove he isn't green like his mother Elphaba.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted and parodied in Dharma & Greg: Greg sprains a muscle in his upper leg, and when Kitty doesn't want to use the word "groin" when describing the injury, Dharma says, "What should I call it? The muscle near his PENIS?"
  • On Mad TV the favorite nickname for Stuart Larkin is the "Danger Zone".
  • In three episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the show used the phrase "naughty bits" due to censorship.
  • While all the Star Trek series have said the word "sex" and dealt with sexual things, they still censor words for genitals, although the phrase "sexual organs" has been said at least once.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Data the android has male parts, and whenever that fact is brought to light, the phrases "fully functional" and "anatomically correct" are used. In "Datalore", Riker sounds awkward when asking Data if his "brother" Lore has all his parts, implying that he's wondering if Lore has a penis. In "The Naked Now", Data hears a limerick from a person infected with a virus that makes the infected lose their inhibitions and repeats part of it to Picard: "There was a young lady from Venus, whose body was shaped like a..." but Picard interrupts him before he can say the last word.
    • Star Trek: Voyager
      • In "Message in a Bottle", the holographic doctor meets another one and mentions that he's had sex before. The other hologram says, "Sex?! How is that possible?! We aren't equipped with a—" but is cut off by the Doctor bragging, "Let's just say I made an addition to my program."
      • In "State of Flux", Neelix describes some poisoning symptoms that include a stabbing pain that starts at your knees and works its way up to the—
        Chakotay: (interrupting) I think we get the picture.

    Web Original 
  • The chrome extension Swearing Substitution is meant to replace swear words with other words when they crop up, but it censors all words for genitalia, even technical ones, into "reproductive body part".
  • The chrome extension Web Censor censors swear words, but also some anatomical words. The weird thing is, it doesn't censor "penis" or "vulva", but it does censor "scrotum" and "vagina".

    Real Life 
  • In Victorian times, people called the genitals (as well as the underwear) the "unmentionables".
  • Some parents feel emotionally uncomfortable naming the genitals when discussing anatomy with their young children (especially girls) so they make up a name or try to avoid the topic. Most professionals recommend teaching children the proper names: it makes discussing them feel more normal and makes the kid able to communicate more clearly if they get sexually abused or if their privates are injured.
  • The phrase "white meat" comes from the Victorian times. Victorians would refer to different parts of a cooked chicken as "white meat" and "dark meat" to avoid using the words "breast" and "thigh" (which wouldn't be considered rude words today, especially the latter, but values were different then).
  • US politician Lisa Brown once got in legal trouble for saying the word "vagina" on television... even though she was talking about abortion.


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