Sodomy, Sodomists, and Sodomizing (pt. 1)

For the word-field of ‘sodomy’, a distinction was made between the persons (‘sodomite’, ‘sodomites’, ‘sodomist’, ‘sodomists’ and ‘sodomizers’), verbs (‘sodomize’, ‘sodomizes’, ‘sodomizing’, ‘sodomized’) and nouns (‘sodomy’ and ‘sodomies’).

The terms denoting persons has one significant collocate, namely ‘rapists’. In both instances where ‘sodomites’ co-occurs with ‘rapists’, it denotes both groups of people as sexual offenders (which is technically true according to then-existing laws).

  • This maximum-security facility, to house 160 juvenile murderers, sodomists, rapists and armed robbers, will impact even more of our residential areas, schools and recreational facilities.[1]
  • “One of the teachers, right in front of the children, told us, ‘You are sitting with sodomists and rapists,’ ” another visitor to the Pyramid facility reported angrily.[2]

The verb-forms of ‘to sodomize’ indicate that the terms are often used to describe non-consensual, forced (possibly anal) intercourse, regardless of the age or sex of the victim.

  • (30) Golliver is charged with stabbing to death and sodomizing Christopher Gruhn, 14, on March 20 while the boy was on his Sunday paper route.[1]
  • Unhappily, they [two male teenagers] met Melissa Walbridge and Meghan O’Rourke, two sixth-graders taking a shortcut home from school; they overpowered the two 12-year-olds and dragged them into the brush, where they raped, sodomized and tortured them with the knife, shot them several times and left them, bound and gagged, for dead.[2]
  • (32) In one case, in September 1981, four guardsmen at the Cerron Grande outpost near the town of San Martin got drunk at a beer stand, sodomized two young men, raped two young women, another woman and her daughter, then killed three of the young people and wounded the woman, according to the document.[3]
  • A jury of seven Marine officers tonight found a 27-year-old military policeman guilty of kidnaping, raping, sodomizing and attempting to murder a woman on the Marine Corps base here last spring.[4]

As examples 30 and 32 show, for female victims, the verb form of ‘to rape’ is used distinctly from the forms of ‘to sodomize’, indicating that ‘sodomizing’ indeed refers to forced anal intercourse as opposed to forced vaginal intercourse referred to by ‘raping’. In three texts, the collocations of ‘oral’ and a verb indicating the performing of sodomy refer to forced oral intercourse, adding another meaning to the list of uses of verb-forms of ‘to sodomize’. See for example:

  • C. police spokesman William White III confirmed yesterday that the D.C. police department sex squad is investigating the girl’s charges that she was orally sodomized by a 27-year-old corrections officer about 5 p.m. Sunday.[5]
  • The arrest came after a 17-year-old girl, who was incarcerated at the jail on charges of soliciting prostitution after telling authorities she was an adult, told police that she was orally sodomized by a corrections officer against her will.[6]
  • According to court papers, the woman complained that she was orally sodomized Sunday against her will by a guard while in the jail.[7]

It has to be noted that these three examples stem from the same case, were published within a three-day period and two of the three articles were written by the same person. It is possible that there is either some sort of idiolect influencing the data or that the author copied or paraphrased the collocation of ‘oral’ + ‘to sodomise’ from a police report or similar source.

[1] New York Times 20 May 1983: B/2. Print.

[2] Washington Post 10 June 1985: Style/B2. Print.

[3] Dickey, Christopher. New York Times 15 Feb. 1982: 1/A1. Print.

[4] Moore, Molly. Washington Post 12 Oct. 1983: Metro/C1. Print.

[5] Anderson, John W. Washington Post 16 May 1985: Metro/C1. Print.

[6] Anderson, John W. “D.C. Jail Guard Arrested on Charge Of Sexually Assaulting Girl in Cell.” Washington Post 17 May 1985: Metro/C5. Print.

[7] “D.C. Jail Guard Released.” Washington Post 18 May 1985: Metro/B2. Print.

[1] Horgan, Barbara. “Dutchess County Needs no Fourth Prison.” New York Times 8 Jan. 1981: A/22. Print.

[2] Alexander, Ron. New York Times 20 Mar. 1983: 1/2/61. Print.


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