To Come or to Cum

Fair warning, this is going to delve into some territory that some might find weird, icky, or slightly offensive. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

A few weeks ago I was discussing the words "come" and "cum" with some fellow editors. Now, while we focus on male-male erotica, we don't just sit around constantly discussing the finer points or minutiae of male orgasm byproducts. No, this came up because Gio Lassater had a piece accepted for an up-coming anthology, and that editor asked her to change all instances of "cum" to "come." So, what's the difference?

As we all know, especially with writing, there are rules and then there are rules (insert the sound of an ancient tome slamming shut here). In the most basic view of each spelling, there is no difference. They can both mean the same thing. However, "cum" has taken on a connotation that denotes baser sexual acts and/or pieces. Think a journalistic piece in The New Yorker as opposed to letters to Penthouse. Cum is considered to be more crude or to describe the actual orgasm byproduct itself, while come is considered to be the most acceptable and more seemly way of writing both the act and the byproduct.

In reality and honesty, which spelling you use is going to depend on two things. First, what does the publisher prefer? It's been my experience that more publishers are preferring come. Not knowing their reasons why, exactly, it would be my best guess that they fall into the line of thinking that, even though we're publishing material that primarily titillates as opposed to stimulates the mind, come raises the piece to a level that cum just can't or won't. Second, I think it also comes down to the author's choice. Authors tend to pick one over the other, and then stick with it. I say go for it, but just realize that your publisher may make you change it.

What are your thoughts on this? Leave us a comment about which spelling you prefer, and why.