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  #1  
Old 04-19-2012, 01:29 PM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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Why is the "missionary position" called that?

Here's the column in question: Why is the "missionary position" called that?

Cecil in his 1992 column gives the earliest citation from OED as 1969 but it's been antedated since then.

From OED:

Quote:
missionary position n. [see quots. 19291] a position for sexual intercourse in which a woman lies underneath a man, facing him.

[1929 B. Malinowski Sexual Life of Savages x. 284 The natives [of the Trobriand Islands] despise the European position and consider it unpractical and improper.

1929 B. Malinowski Sexual Life of Savages xiii. 403 Tokolibeloa, once a famous Don Juan,‥insisted that this was misinari si bubunela, ‘missionary fashion’, one of the novel immoralities introduced by Christianity.]

1948 A. C. Kinsey et al. Sexual Behavior Human Male x. 373 Malinowski‥notes that caricatures of the English-American position are performed around the communal campfires, to the great amusement of the natives [sc. the Trobrianders of the south-western Pacific] who refer to the position as the ‘missionary position’.
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NOTE FROM MODERATOR: Later in this thread, aldiboronti found Cecil's revision from 2005: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...position-again -- CKDH

Last edited by C K Dexter Haven; 05-03-2012 at 06:37 AM.. Reason: Added link to later column -- CKDH
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  #2  
Old 04-21-2012, 12:46 AM
Khampelf Khampelf is offline
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Re: Retrocopulation.

I've found "Tiger-style" comes across much less vulgar than "Doggy-style".
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  #3  
Old 04-21-2012, 12:56 AM
Gagundathar Gagundathar is offline
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Yeah, if only because being called 'Tiger' by your lover is much nicer than being called 'Doggy'.
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  #4  
Old 04-21-2012, 07:05 AM
Anthony Kaye Anthony Kaye is offline
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We Latin scholars say we're doing it "a tergo". The lady in question will be so impressed by your erudition you'll be able to do it in any position you please.
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  #5  
Old 04-21-2012, 07:12 AM
C K Dexter Haven C K Dexter Haven is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Kaye View Post
We Latin scholars say we're doing it "a tergo". The lady in question will be so impressed by your erudition you'll be able to do it in any position you please.
Don't say something like that too soon in the relationship, though, because premature erudition is uncomfortable.

Anyhow, I'll be sure this gets to Cecil's attention. I don't know whether he'll amend or revise the column, though. Since the advent of the internet, he rarely much doesn't do word or phrase origins: there are plenty of websites by professional etymologists that are dedicated to such, and there's no reason to try to compete with them. Of course, most of them are G-rated and don't deal with sex-related phrases.

Last edited by C K Dexter Haven; 04-21-2012 at 07:13 AM..
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  #6  
Old 04-23-2012, 08:22 PM
Rucksinator Rucksinator is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OED
missionary position n. [see quots. 19291] a position for sexual intercourse in which a woman lies underneath a man, facing him.

[1929 B. Malinowski Sexual Life of Savages x. 284 The natives [of the Trobriand Islands] despise the European position and consider it unpractical and improper.

1929 B. Malinowski Sexual Life of Savages xiii. 403 Tokolibeloa, once a famous Don Juan,‥insisted that this was misinari si bubunela, ‘missionary fashion’, one of the novel immoralities introduced by Christianity.]

1948 A. C. Kinsey et al. Sexual Behavior Human Male x. 373 Malinowski‥notes that caricatures of the English-American position are performed around the communal campfires, to the great amusement of the natives [sc. the Trobrianders of the south-western Pacific] who refer to the position as the ‘missionary position’.
What I don't understand is that these seem to imply that natives thought that there was something silly or strange about the MS position. I can understand thinking that it's strange or silly to think that MS is the only acceptable position, but to think that the position itself is strange?

Waitaminute.... I recall watching a movie many years ago where some people found a tribe of people who (among other things, this wasn't the crux of the movie) didn't understand the concept of kissing. Are there cultures who don't understand kissing? And, if so, could this be why the MS position seemed strange to them?
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  #7  
Old 04-23-2012, 09:44 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Here's a previous thread in which we discussed the same earlier citations:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=317628

As you can see, Kinsey misinterpreted what Malinowski said. So what happened was that Malinowski talked about the use of other positions among the Triobrand Islanders, Kinsey then misinterpreted this nineteen years later, and in the late 1960's people who had read Kinsey made jokes about it, calling it the missionary position. So it wasn't as though there has been a continuous use of the term since 1929. It appears that nobody picked up on Malilnowski's anecdote till Kinsey, and nobody picked up on Kinsey's mention for a decade or two.
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  #8  
Old 04-23-2012, 10:20 PM
GIGObuster GIGObuster is offline
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[aside]
I will point at the last post the next time we discuss the "whole nine yards" thingy.

I think the theory that just a few could had used the phrase or a similar one during WWII as some theorize has some merit, is not impossible when one takes into account how concepts like the "missionary position" got to us from the past. Some old aces would had taught that "nine yard" thing to personnel in Vietnam and then later it found a way to become popular.
[/aside]

Last edited by GIGObuster; 04-23-2012 at 10:21 PM..
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  #9  
Old 04-24-2012, 03:59 AM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
Here's a previous thread in which we discussed the same earlier citations:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=317628

As you can see, Kinsey misinterpreted what Malinowski said. So what happened was that Malinowski talked about the use of other positions among the Triobrand Islanders, Kinsey then misinterpreted this nineteen years later, and in the late 1960's people who had read Kinsey made jokes about it, calling it the missionary position. So it wasn't as though there has been a continuous use of the term since 1929. It appears that nobody picked up on Malilnowski's anecdote till Kinsey, and nobody picked up on Kinsey's mention for a decade or two.
Thanks for the link to that thread. From there one learns that Cecil wrote an updated column containing the new info in 2005. Shouldn't the two columns be merged? It makes for some confusion to republish the earlier one without reference to the later.
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  #10  
Old 04-24-2012, 07:03 AM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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If missionary position is the only acceptable way, shouldn't we rename doggy style to "heterodox"? That would be, well, interesting.
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  #11  
Old 05-02-2012, 09:05 PM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Panda View Post
If missionary position is the only acceptable way, shouldn't we rename doggy style to "heterodox"? That would be, well, interesting.
And one could do it with a hetero doxy!
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  #12  
Old 05-02-2012, 10:44 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GIGObuster View Post
[aside]
I will point at the last post the next time we discuss the "whole nine yards" thingy.

I think the theory that just a few could had used the phrase or a similar one during WWII as some theorize has some merit, is not impossible when one takes into account how concepts like the "missionary position" got to us from the past. Some old aces would had taught that "nine yard" thing to personnel in Vietnam and then later it found a way to become popular.
[/aside]
Your theory, while adventurous, isn't supported by the evidence in any manner.
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  #13  
Old 05-03-2012, 06:34 AM
C K Dexter Haven C K Dexter Haven is offline
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Thanks, aldiboronti, for finding the second column. Color me embarrassed for forgetting. I've appended it to your OP, so as not to cause too much confusion for later readers of this thread. (I hope that's OK with you, let me know via email if not.)

The idea of "merging" a column with it's revision has a lot of merit, I'll bring it up to the Boss.

Last edited by C K Dexter Haven; 05-03-2012 at 06:38 AM..
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  #14  
Old 05-03-2012, 04:38 PM
Anthony Kaye Anthony Kaye is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
And one could do it with a hetero doxy!
She'll be a lot more fun than a homo doxy!
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  #15  
Old 05-06-2012, 04:47 AM
Missinglynx Missinglynx is offline
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Missionary Position

"Retrocopulation"? Absolutely love that term. More than "thumbs up".
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  #16  
Old 05-06-2012, 07:27 AM
C K Dexter Haven C K Dexter Haven is offline
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Moderator comment: Missinglynx, welcome to the Straight Dope Message Board, we're glad you found us.

Since there's already a thread on the topic of missionary position, I have merged your thread into that one: makes life easier for other readers to have everything in one thread. Your post remains on the forum list of topics, designated "Moved" and with an automatic re-director that gets them to this thread.

Last edited by C K Dexter Haven; 05-06-2012 at 07:28 AM..
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