the meat and the motion

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Wed Jan 27 20:37:56 UTC 2010

It's not the meat, it's the motion. 1951 The saying may have entered oral tradition from the title and recurring line of a rhythm-and-blues song written by Henry Glover and recorded by The Swallows: "It Ain’t the Meat (It's the Motion)." Or, the song may have been built around an existing proverb, as yet undiscovered. Proverbial uses of the expression do not appear in print until the 1980s, after Maria Muldaur's popular rendition of the song in 1974 had nudged it--and the saying--toward the (white) mainstream. Interestingly, in the song the term _meat_ refers sexually to a woman ("It ain't the meat, it's the motion / Makes your daddy want to rock"); however, in the proverb _meat_ usually designates a penis (though occasionally some non-sexual referent). 1983  Cynthia Heimel, _Sex Tips for Girls_ (New York:  Simon & Schuster) 187: "Stop any girl on the street and ask her if she cares if a man is well hung, and she will look at you aghast. 'Of course not,' she'll say, 'it's !
 not what you've got, it's how you use it. It's not the meat, it's the motion.'"  1984  Cecil Adams, _The Straight Dope_ (Chicago:  Chicago Review) 45: "In short, your best bet is to reconcile yourself to your present equipment. Remember, it ain't the meat, it's the motion."  1984  Leslie R. Schover, _Prime Time: Sexual Health for Men Over Fifty_ (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston) 50: "[A]s the time-honored saying goes, 'it's not the meat--it's the motion.'"


---- Original message ----
>Date: Mon, 25 Jan 2010 14:16:24 -0500
>From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> (on behalf of Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>)
>Subject: Re: Bad Girls speak>

>>Folklorists & Freudians: At Speed Dating, Natalie asks prospective
>>boyfriends, without introductory context, "Which do you think is more
>>important? The size of the boat, or the motion of the ocean?"  As she
>>explains to her mansionmates later, "If he says the size of the boat, it
>>means he has a tiny penis."
>And here I would have drawn the opposite conclusion, but what do I
>know.  And then there's also the female perspective, as in Maria
>Muldaur's 70's classic "It's Not the Meat, It's the Motion".

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