Father Tony

Teabagging: tongue-in-cheek causes hide-'n-seek etymology.

Filed By Father Tony | April 20, 2009 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: teabagging

The mainstream usage of previously gay-owned sexual terminology is a pleasant sign of the better times in which we live. Not long ago, drag and its doings crossed-over to the daylight of respectability. In the transition, drag lost its gayness and became a bland signifier for anyone or anything masquerading as its opposite.

This process of assumption or acquisition of the obscure seems to inevitably contain warpage. Consider pesto. Plucked from gourmet exclusivity, this food preparation is now widely available, but its popularization is inextricably dumbed down so that the off-the-shelf editions do not have the bite of much garlic or pepper, and substitute cheaper nuts for pignoli and cheaper oils for olive.

Is that what we are now witnessing with teabagging? Was it once a sexual practice whispered only in gay circles? This seems to be the assumption, given the excitement over a major and assumed-to-be-gay news anchor's innuendo.

Rather than trust only my own view of this, I consulted two reliable barometers of cultural momentum: the Urban Dictionary and Youtube, both of which confirmed my opinion that just as Reba was country before country was big, teabagging was straight - or at least gay-straight - before it was pop.

The Urban Dictionary is perfectly sloppy in its inclusivity, and, the Youtube selection I've made for you is the best of many that easily support my position, but before you go to them, I'll tell you about my own first encounter with the labeled practice of teabagging .

For several years, I directed a three-week summer festival that was very similar to your typical state fair. One of my food concessions was staffed by a group of rowdy, healthy, horny and straight young men who were constantly pre-occupied with sex, drugs and rock-and-roll. Some nights, after ushering out the last of the tourists, these guys would scrub the grill and then decide to hang around rather then go home. After enough pot and booze and craziness, they would sometimes pass out on or under picnic tables and simply dust themselves off in the morning and resume their stations. They were forever trying to get me to join their carousing but I knew where that might lead so I always had an excuse.

While passing among them one morning, they stopped me, wanting to share with me some photos they had printed of a particularly wild night from an earlier week. Before they began flipping through the stack, they asked me if I knew what teabagging was. I did not. Incredulous (I think they thought me cool for an old guy) they assured me that the photos would explain it, and they did. Each picture included one particularly goofy member of their band, passed out on a picnic table with head thrown back and mouth agape. Each shot featured another of their group squatting over his face and fully lowering his scrotum into the goof's mouth. The photos were startling in that they were carefully staged. The perpetrators and the cameraman made sure that all penises were held aside and obscured manually so that only the descending scrotum would be visible, and by dint of flash, indisputably successful in its arrival. While I was being presented with the photos, the victim stood nearby working the cash register, he turned to me at one point and shrugged and smiled. He seemed not to feel degraded or insulted or violated. All in a night's revelries. (I was tempted to rethink my decision to avoid their tea parties.)

Something in my eyes must have conveyed more than simple amusement because the fellow holding the photos stopped flipping through them for a moment and said "Hey, we're not gay or anything. You know that, right?" "Yeah, I get it" I responded. The moment passed and the summer progressed for these boys as had all others, with a succession of girlfriends and dogfights and firings and new hires to be initiated by moonlight.

So let's get this clear: teabagging is a guy thing that may involve male or female mouths. There is nothing intrinsically /originally/exclusively/historically gay about it.

To rob teabagging of its essential element of domination would be an emasculation of the word and result in the bland pesto of tomfoolery. You might as well be using golf balls. When performed ritually in the context of a bachelor party (and you may all now take a look at the YouTube selection), teabagging is clearly a straight male-bonding experience always blunted with alcohol and rarely involving the penis.

Also, let's not overlook the possibility that the current rage for teabagging might be similar in origin to the current rage for watersports. Both practices are a safer form of sex. Oral contact limited to earlobes, nipples, toes and scrotum certainly lowers worry about communicables while maintaining an erotic vibe.

What is more fascinating to me than the turning and twisting of this word itself is the fact that Youtube will allow no clear depiction of the scrotum being teabagged. Once that scrubbing is overthrown, we'll have made some real linguistic progress.


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isa kocher | April 26, 2009 9:13 AM

November and December 1962, Lackland Air Force Base, basic traning, USAF: if you were asleep, in the daytime, no doubt you were teebagged at least once.