SEX-RELATED ENTRIES IN THE NYT STYLEBOOK
- •adult. An "adult" novel or movie is one intended for grown-ups. It need not be pornographic. Avoid "adult" as a euphemism for sex-related. Also see "porn."
- •sex worker. Avoid this vague and euphemistic term, except on the rare occasions when a blanket term is needed to encompass a range of activities. Ordinarily "prostitute" is preferable. But be sensitive to the fact that in many situations prostitution is linked to human trafficking and violence.
- •sexual orientation, never "sexual preference," which carries the disputed implication that sexuality is a matter of choice. Cite a person's sexual orientation only when it is pertinent and its pertinence is clear to the reader. Also see "bisexual"; "gay"; "lesbian"; "straight."
- •safe sex is acceptable shorthand, though often a more specific term may be more useful.
- •obscenity, vulgarity, profanity. The Times writes unblushingly about sexual behavior, science, health, crime and similar subjects, opening its report to any newsworthy detail, provided the approach is dignified and the vocabulary clinical rather than coarse.
- •porn is slang and should generally be avoided in serious news contexts. It may be used in narrow headlines when other alternatives, like "sex," would be misleading or too vague. Do not use the dated "porno" or "smut."
- •lover is a suitable term for a partner in a literary or historic liaison, or in a secret or illicit affair. In writing about ordinary relationships, generally use the less flamboyant "companion," "partner," "boyfriend" or "girlfriend."
- •X-rated. In headlines: "X-Rated."