Module 1: Words and Language

Definitions and Goals >

Appropriate for all ages

Estimated Time to Complete: 4 – 5 Hours

      • Encoding: 30 Minutes
      • Testing: 30 Minutes
      • Introspecting: 60 – 120 Minutes
      • Applying: 60 -120 Minutes

Learning Objectives


Watch or listen to the following two 5MIWeekly Episodes:

Are You A Sex Confuser?

Penises and Vulvas Don’t Bite

Transcripts for these two videos can be found here and here.

Click the link below to access the external test.

Certification Test

Using this tool should take 60 to 120 minutes.


Connotative words do not necessarily cause a person to be sexually confused, if these words are learned after the person knows and understands the words’ denotative counterparts. Sexual confusion and problems arise when euphemisms (mild forms of their denotative counterparts: e.g., kitty in place of vagina) or cacophemisms (harsh forms of their denotative counterparts: e.g., pussy in place of vagina) are the only words a person has learned as the basis of knowing and understanding sexuality.

For example, a popular euphemism for having sexual intercourse is “it.”

They did it.

How many possible meanings of “it” are there? A conservative estimate is an infinite amount since anything can be it. With infinity in mind, how can someone even begin to understand what sexual intercourse is if the basis of their understanding is infinitely unclear.

Denotatively, sexual intercourse may be vaginal, anal, or oral.

They had vaginal intercourse.

How many possible meanings of “vaginal intercourse” are there? A conservative estimate is a few. With a few in mind, someone can begin to understand what vaginal intercourse may be and they certainly can use these few definitions as a basis to generate questions about intercourse.


This exercise has you analyzing your own words when it comes to sex. The exercise has three steps:

    1. Create a text document with two columns.  At the top of the first column, label it DENOTATIVE and at the top of the other column, label it CONNOTATIVE.
    2. In a free-association-like manner, write all the words you regularly use with friends, family, lovers, and strangers, that you deem as being sexual.  As you are recalling and writing these words, be sure to put them within their correct respective columns. 
    3. Compose a 500- to 1000-word narrative about you using the following three prompts:
      1. What is the total number of words in your columns?  Is this a small or a large number, considering sexuality is a basic motivator of your behavior?
      2. What percentage of the words in your columns are denotative; what percentage are connotative?  What do the words and their percentages say about you?  What do they say about your understanding of sexuality?  What do they say about your relationships? 
      3. What percentage of the words in the connotative column are euphemisms; what percentage are cacophemisms?  What do the connotative words and the percentages of them being euphemisms and cacophemisms say about you?  What do they say about your understanding of sexuality?  What do they say about your relationships? 


Who am I sexually?

Consider this question while only focusing on the words you shared in your columns.

To earn Science of Sex Education Certification (Words and Language), submit your narrative here.

Using this tool should take 60 to 120 minutes.


Think about all the people in your life you know well. With self-esteem defined as how a person feels about themselves, and self-concept defined as how a person knows themselves, which of your family members, friends, and acquaintances has the most negative self- esteems and weakest self-concepts?


    1. Teach the family member, friend, and acquaintance about denotative and connotative words as it relates to human sexuality. When teaching connotative words, be sure to decipher euphemisms and cacophemisms. Confirm the family member, friend, and acquaintance did not know about these sexual language delineations before you taught them and confirm
      they do know these delineations after you taught them.
    2. Write a 500- to 1000-word narrative about how you taught and who you
    3. When writing about who you taught, estimate the percentages of denotative and connotative words they use when talking about sex or sexuality; and estimate what percentage of their connotative sexual words are euphemisms and cacophemisms? Do you think these percentages will change since you taught your family member, friend, and acquaintance about denotative and connotative words as it relates to human sexuality? If so, how? If not, why?


Can you predict people’s self-esteems and self-concepts based on knowing their sexual language? By changing the words a person uses to talk about sex and sexuality, can this person change their self-esteem and self- concept?

To earn Science of Sex Education Certification (Words and Language), submit your narrative here.


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Frederick, D.A., John, H.K.S., Garcia, J.R. et al. (2018). Differences in Orgasm Frequency Among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Men and Women in a U.S. National Sample. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 47, 273–288.

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National Conference of State Legislatures (December 21, 2016). State Policies on Sex Education in Schools,

Nikkelen, S.W.C., van Oosten, J.M.F., & van den Borne, M.M.J.J. (2019). Sexuality education in the digital era: Intrinsic and extrinsic predictors of online sexual information seeking among youth. Journal of Sex Research, 1–11.

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