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Monday, July 10, 2017

Shana Figueroa Guest post: Situations Where the Word P*ssy Should Never Be Used in Romance + giveaway

Situations Where the Word P*ssy Should Never Be Used in Romance 

I love cats! When I was stationed in Afghanistan, I kept a literal pile of snacks behind my desk that I could dip into and think about home. Despite this horde of food lying on the floor of a building in a third-world country, no vermin ever touched it, thanks to the community of cats which roamed the camp.

So it’s really a travesty to me how the name if this fine animal has been coopted by the forces of sexism and misogyny. The fact I need to put an asterisk in the word to keep this post PG-13 gives proof to its negative connotation, and yet for some weird reason it’s a staple in contemporary romance literature.

Not that the word can never be used; rather, there are situations where it should definitely not be used. Here are those situations:

1. A man referring to a woman’s vagina

With the exception of purposely smutty talk, how many men do you know who respectfully refer to a woman’s groin as her “p*ssy”? The key word here is respectfully. It’s hard to root for a hero who uses such a crass term to describe his lady love, even if it’s only in his mind, or to describe how “tight” he thinks she is down there.
Dude can fart and tell you it’s a compliment, but it still smells.
2. A woman referring to her own vagina
How many women, who are not porn stars or not engaged in dirty talk, refer to their own vaginas as their “p*ssy”? None, that’s how many. “Hi, I’m calling to schedule an appointment with my gynecologist to get a mammogram and p*ssy check-up.” NOBODY SAYS THAT. Yet I don’t know how many books I’ve read where a woman internally monologues about how her p*ssy is clenching or is wet or whatever at the sight or thought of some hot piece of beefcake. The fact that the female is using a derogatory term to describe to herself how she feels puts her experience squarely in the male gaze, which is a jarring disconnect that pulls me right out of the story.

Internalized sexism is not sexy.
3. A man (who is not the villain) describing himself or others as “p*ssies” to connote weakness
Cats aren’t weak. They are stone-cold killers who will dutifully keep rodentia off your precious snacks. They have sharp teeth and claws, and will viciously attack you if you pet them wrong! So why would someone use the word “p*ssy” to mean weakness? …Ah, because they actually mean “female.” In other words, something that is “lesser” and not worthy of respect. If a character uses this term in disdain, we’d better not be expected to sympathize with that jackhole.
 So if the goal is to establish a character as a sexist asshat douchcanoe, then go ahead and use the word p*ssy. Or perhaps if you’re referring to a feline who will protect your valuable-as-gold supply of Oreos with their lives, then sure.

by Shana Figueroa
July 11, 2017
Hell hath no fury like Valentine…

Five years. It’s been five years of blissful peace for private eye Valentine Shepherd and her hot-ass husband, Max Carressa. Five years of watching their twins grow up healthy and happy, even as Val waits for Hell to unleash its fury. Her enemies have been planning, and Val knows she doesn’t have nearly enough weapons to protect her family…

Yet Val and Max have one advantage—their insatiable desire for each other allows them to see into the future, and the visions they share may just give them a chance. But as events are set into motion that endanger everyone Val’s ever loved, she’ll do whatever it takes to stop the horror she’s already seen.

Val sat at the foot of the bed, sipping coffee and watching Max futz with a tie in front of the bedroom mirror. From the first floor, Lydia’s laughter reached them through their closed door. Hopefully that meant the kids were already warming up to Jamal.

“You’ve never heard of a group of guys who go to a secret smoking room or possible sex club after work, have you?” she asked.

Max’s hands stopped. He looked at her through the mirror, an eyebrow cocked. “You’re kidding, right?”

“Is that a no?”

“Yes, that’s a no.”

Thank God. She probably wasn’t dealing with an evil sex-slash-faith-healing cult again. Chances seemed slim, anyway.

He continued knotting the purple silk around his neck. “Is this related to Lacy Zephyr’s visit a couple days ago?”

“Maybe. Yes.” She’d told him Lacy came by, but had kept the details to herself out of respect for her first client in about half a decade. Now she realized she couldn’t get Max’s help without bringing him fully on board. She’d tried keeping him in the dark once before, during her investigation into Blue Serpent; it had turned out disastrously for them both. The specter of Lacy’s disapproval could take comfort that Max was good at keeping secrets. “How well do you know her husband?”

“Aaron? Not well. I see him at meetings sometimes.”

“So you don’t know what he does in his spare time, say after work?”

“No idea.”

She regarded him over the rim of her mug, drumming her fingers on the sides of the ceramic.

Max straightened his tie, glanced at her in the mirror, and frowned. “Don’t even ask.”


“No. Aaron and I aren’t friends.”

“But you could be.” Lord knows he could use more friends. Of course he could say the same thing about her, especially since Stacey took off five years ago for destinations unknown, but this wasn’t about her.

“I’m not palling up with someone I barely know just to find out what he does after work.”

“Okay, fine.” She took another slurp of her coffee. “Could you at least find out what his schedule looks like over the next week or so?”

Shoving the end of the tie under his vest, he turned to face her and shook his head.

“Then I’ll have to spend all day and night staking him out. Don’t know how long that’ll go on for. When my mom comes to visit in a couple days, you’ve got it covered, right?”

Max’s gorgeous hazel eyes drilled into her, his lips tightened in a half-smile. Hot damn, never had bemused frustration looked so sexy. She loved twisting his screws just to get that look.

“To state the obvious, you are manipulative,” he said as he snatched his suit coat off a loveseat in the corner and slipped it on. “I’ll see what I can do, alright?”

She jumped up and kissed him, careful not to slop coffee on his suit. “Thanks. You can punish me later.”

“You bet I will.” He slapped her ass and seized her lips with his, kissing her with such force she thought he might throw her on the bed and make love to her right then. When his kiss turned her insides to liquid and she started pulling at his belt buckle, a feverish desperation for him burning in her belly, he pulled away, stepped past her, and bounced down the stairs.

She gasped, the void where he used to be like a splash of cold water to her face. “Tease,” she called after him.

He snickered the rest of the way to the first floor. Yeah, real fucking funny. She’d make him pay for that. He wouldn’t be getting any sleep tonight, that’s for damn sure.

Valentine Shepherd Series:

About the Author:
Shana Figueroa is a published author who specializes in unique romance and humor, with occasional sojourns into horror, sci-fi, and literary fiction.

She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two young daughters, and two old pugs. By day, she serves her country in the US Air Force. By night, she hunkers down in a corner and cranks out the crazy stories lurking in her head.

Comment on any Character Portrait blog post on my website to enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card!


  1. Finally to see someone say it.

  2. I enjoyed this post! I just finished reading a book where p---y was used a lot. I would rather not hear it!

  3. Thanks! It always rubs me the wrong way when authors use this word - pun intended! I'm not sure why it's so popular.

  4. I have to say, I AGREE with you! Even though my old publisher (Ellora's Cave) insisted we use it. I drew the line at the word c*nt. That's the most offensive word to women, IMO.
    I have taken that word out of all my erotic romance repubs, and was happy I had the chance to do it.