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Posts Tagged ‘the grammar police’

Whatever else I think about the notion of abstinence until marriage, this picture of the “Abstinence Rose Pin” offends my writerly sensibilities. I saw it on Feministing a while back, and I knew there was something wrong with that simile that I couldn’t exactly name.

I solved that problem the way I solve all my problems, by looking up “simile” on Wikipedia. That actually didn’t help much, so I looked up “metaphor” and found it: it’s an absolute, paralogical or anti-metaphor. This is a metaphor in which the two things compared have no point of discernible similarity. Wikipedia’s example is, “The couch is the autobahn of the living room,” which is so becoming a throw pillow if I ever learn needlepoint.

Now, I did pass high school, so I know the difference between similes and metaphors, but I still say this is an anti-simile. Similes, you will recall from 10th grade English, allow for more precision in the comparison process, allowing the writer to point out exactly how the two things are alike, where metaphors tend to let the reader assume the similarities more. This is where the abstinence rose pin fails: women aren’t really like roses in any immediately apparent way, particularly in a way related to sex, and the card fails to qualify exactly how the two things are alike.

The rest of the card doesn’t help. The comparison gets all confused by dropping the “like” from the second sentence, now saying that the lady is in a fact a rose, a statement we still haven’t seen any evidence for. Furthermore, sex isn’t anything like petals being plucked from a flower (and if it is, you’re doing it wrong). Last but not least, is “bare stem” code for “penis?” Maybe having lots of sex will turn blushing young ladies into dudes. Hey, the abstinence movement just solved the problem of my senior thesis for me.

I give the abstinence rose a mere point. It espouses a philosophy with which I strongly disagree in a grammatically indefensible manner. But, I did get a post out of it.

★☆☆☆☆

Therefore, as a special favor to the abstinence-only movement, I’ve tried to come up with a few metaphors that make a little more sense.

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