Sex-Positive Alphabet Book 'P Is for Pussy' Is for Everyone

P is for Pussy

Elissa Blount-Moorhead and Meltem Sahin's new alphabet book, P Is for Pussy, is no Richard Scarry. For the author-illustrator duo, it's more like the sex-positive, feminist equivalent. 

Though the book is officially listed as being for adults, Blount-Moorhead sees it as a work adults and children could enjoy in equal measure. Ideally, parents get a good chuckle out of reading "C is for cock," and their kids learn the ABC's. Naturally, the key to the book is the double entendre.

Source: Meltem Sahin/P is for Pussy
Source: Meltem Sahin/P is for Pussy

She hit on the idea years ago when she and her husband were joking around while reading alphabet books to their daughter, now 12. Soon she realized she had more than just a funny comedy bit on her hands. "Once I could really see multiple word options for each letter, I realized it was possible," Blount-Moorhead told Mic. "I ran it by a few friends who were writers and humorists, and when they laughed, I knew I had something."

Some of the subtext is more subtle than "pussy" and "cock." Kids who've already learned their alphabet probably will still take "T is for trip" and "M is for moon" at face value. Blount-Moorhead's goal, though, was to do more than just produce crude humor. "The book depicts women, men and gender-nonconforming characters in, I think, beautiful, funny and maybe unexpected ways," Blount-Moorhead said. She hopes to increase children's exposure to diverse representations of race, gender and sexuality.

"Q is for Queen."Source: Meltem Sahin/P is for Pussy
"Q is for Queen."  Meltem Sahin/P is for Pussy

"My children started learning about how vast 'family structures' could be [at] as young as 3 years old because of their environment," Blount-Moorhead said, "show rather than tell."

Blount-Moorhead teamed up with illustrator Sahin, whom she met through a program at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Sahin, who had already illustrated three books in Turkey, was immediately interested. 

"I thought about how this is a project that I couldn't do in Turkey for maybe another 50 years," Sahin told Bitch magazine. "So this was my chance to get crazy and do whatever I want. I jumped into the book." 

The result is what Sahin called a "humanistic approach" to the mixed-media illustrations that accompany Blount-Moorhead's text. Blount-Moorhead called her 7-year-old son a "tiny little prude" because he wouldn't say "ass," she told Bitch.

"I'm obsessed with words," Blount-Moorhead told Bitch. "They're meant to be played with."

"S is for seaman."Source: Meltem Sahin/P is for Pussy
"S is for seaman."  Meltem Sahin/P is for Pussy

Blount-Moorhead and Sahin considered wordplay carefully. What didn't make the cut? C is for crack, for one. For words like "ho," though, the pair saw an opportunity.

"We had a chance to use that image for 'ho' to really talk about three meanings connected to sex, politics and agency for women," Blount-Moorhead told Mic. She said she talked to her daughter about how men and women might use the word differently. "Language is fun, but it can also be dangerous and vicious," she said. "Words matter."