Respectful Insolence

Apparently some librarians and parents are upset that a children’s book (which happens to have won the Newberry Medal, the most prestigious award in children’s literature) has, within its pages, the use of the word “scrotum.” The book, The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patronhas, been banned in some school libraries, mostly in the South.

Money quote:

“I think it’s a good case of an author not realizing her audience,” said Frederick Muller, a librarian at Halsted Middle School in Newton, N.J. “If I were a third- or fourth-grade teacher, I wouldn’t want to have to explain that.”

Really, are there any third or fourth graders who don’t know what a scrotum is these days? And even if there are, what’s the big deal about simply saying what it is? It’s just a body part. Little kids pretty much know what a penis is. So what’s the big deal? Someone, please explain it to me. It’s not as if this book described any sexual acts or was in any way pornographic. It just mentioned a body part. Indeed, the use of the word “scrotum” came in the context of a character saying that his dog had been bitten in the scrotum by a rattlesnake.

Our country is truly messed up.

Comments

  1. #1 ThomasHobbes
    February 19, 2007

    Please, allow me:

    Penis!

    That is all.

  2. #2 ThomasHobbes
    February 19, 2007

    Look, I used a dirty word, and yet somehow, the world has not come apart at its seems.

    It has generally been my experience that when you try to deny someone access to information, particularly information that there’s no good reason for them not to have, you alienate your audience and set them up to search for exactly the information you wanted to keep secret. Kids aren’t dumb–when this book is banned, and an inquisitive child stumbles upon that fact, many more kids will be talking about scrotums that would have been if they had just read the book.

  3. #3 ThomasHobbes
    February 19, 2007

    Just one last point–first, I know it’s “seams,” not “seems.”

    Here’s my gripe with this whole approach to “protecting children”: you’re not protecting them from anything at all, simply fostering resentment in them by trying to be secretive about a word, particularly in this case. After all, what kind of word are they trying to cover up? A simple anatomical term! When you attach negative connotations to one’s gentials, you set someone up for some real ugly associations later on.

    Never is it the case that a single word would so damage someone’s psyche that it must be suppressed–of course, I can think of some real nasty insults that people ought to stop using, and in particular should not be taught to children, but no word carries with it the power to kill or warp someone’s mind. Yet why do we still insist on treating parts of one’s body as dirty and reprobate?

    Put another way, why is the penis game the penis game? Why not the eyebrow game?

  4. #4 Niobe
    February 19, 2007

    At least they don’t know about the vajayjay yet!

    OH CRAP TOO LATE

  5. #5 hehe
    February 19, 2007

    “SCROTUM”!! that’s even more offensive, harmful, damaging, obscene than “VAGINA”.

    (http://www.news4jax.com/entertainment/10948346/detail.html)

  6. #6 Blake Stacey
    February 19, 2007

    Kurt Vonnegut had a very lucid response to people who called his books “obscene” and “unfit for children’s eyes” (I think it’s somewhere in Palm Sunday). He said, “Who could masturbate to Slaughterhouse-Five?”

    I think about that every time I hear this kind of save-the-children (from-what-we-can’t-admit-they-already-know) nonsense. I also think about Lois Lowry, who has said some very cogent things about what belongs in children’s books, and why people get upset (and she should know, since she wrote The Giver).

  7. #7 medrecgal
    February 19, 2007

    Thank you, Orac, for pointing out something that has become painfully obvious to me over the years. You were spot on when you wrote: “Our country is truly messed up.” Yes…how peculiar is it that we have a nation where children are exposed to innumerable sexual acts or references in the course of their childhoods thanks to the “wonders” of modern media, and yet there is an uproar over a children’s book that uses the proper anatomical term for a part of a boy’s body in a NONsexual way? Personally I think it’s absolutely right to teach a child the correct names for the various parts of their body–including the sex organs. It’s not as if educating them is going to lead them to experiment…they will do so anyway, and are actually LESS likely to do it if they’re properly educated. It’s like the places where I’ve been reading about some people changing the name of the play “The Vagina Monologues” because they’re offended…come on, people. Sometimes we’re just so inappropriately Puritanical about these things. Yecch!

  8. #8 Blake Stacey
    February 19, 2007

    Also:

    “Attack of the dreaded scrotum of doom!” is a wonderful title. I doubt I’ll see a better one today, and I spend far too much time online, so believe me that means quite a bit. Maybe Neil Gaiman will write a storybook with that title soon.

  9. #9 Dan Hocson
    February 19, 2007

    When my son was 4, his pre-school class did the project where they drew outlines of their bodies on paper and then drew in the various body parts. At the end of the exercise, he went to his teacher and asked if she could help him draw his penis and scrotum. She handled it very calmly, and suggested that maybe it wasn’t something to put on this particular drawing. No crisis, no freaking out. I wonder if he’d get expelled from that school in NJ?

  10. #10 Ruth
    February 19, 2007

    My 6 year old has a beautiful anatomy book for kids-she knows the proper name of her parts, if she needs to tell a doctor where she hurts. I explained what was involved when I had a hysterectomy. Kids want to know-this great mystery around ‘their private parts’is more damaging than a few facts.

  11. #11 DuWayne
    February 19, 2007

    Good grief, this is bloody ridiculous. The perfect opportunity to explain to kids, the proper term for part of their anatomy that is nearly always reffered to in slang terms. I really appreciate children’s books that make references to penis’s, vagina’s and the like – when they use the proper terms for them.

    I would strongly prefer my child not grow up ashamed of his body, or any parts of it. Freaking out about stuff like this, does not help him do that. However, books and other media, that talk about those parts, without skirting around what they are, do an admirable job at discouraging such insecurities.

  12. #12 Melissa G
    February 19, 2007
  13. #13 DuWayne
    February 19, 2007

    Dan –

    That just reminded me of the fatefull day when my (then four year old) son, managed to zip the very tip of his penis in his zipper, at preschool. I think every class in his preschool heard him shrieking about his penis, from the bathroom. One of his teachers had to go for a walk, rather than have him think she was laughing at his obvious pain. Aside from that, it was handled well. They even decided, with help from the parent’s policy council, that it would be a good idea to have someone explain to the boys that they need to be very carefull, when zipping up their pants.

  14. #14 Josh
    February 19, 2007

    Well, I beg to differ! You think it’s just accidental we turn our faces away from certain body parts? No Sir! There is a reason behind it and we should never expose our kids to that! I remmeber when that, whatshername, Janet Jakcson, popped out her privates on national TV, that day I almost blew my brains out with my Walther-P99, how distressed I was!

  15. #15 Ahcuah
    February 19, 2007

    Scrotum? Scrotum??!!

    Well, the obvious problem is that the author didn’t write that the rattlesnake bit the dog on the balls.

    You think the librarians and parents would have been OK with that?

  16. #16 obscurifer
    February 19, 2007

    Jeebus Flippin’ Hamburgers!

    Maybe those folks who are freaking out don’t have evolved beyond the need for those parts, so they no longer have them. That could lead to not wanting to talk about them.

    Heh heh — I said, “evolved.”

  17. #17 J-Dog
    February 19, 2007

    Next thing you know, they will be banning the heart-warming story of Saint Scrotum and the 20 Virgins!

  18. #18 Greg
    February 19, 2007

    ” I know it’s “seams,” not “seems.” ”

    You were right the first time. At its seems is exactly where the world has come apart.

  19. #19 Dave Godfrey
    February 19, 2007

    In the UK Caprice was talking about her role in the Vagina Monologues, and used the “C”-word on national TV at about 10 in the morning. There was one complaint. No-one else batted an eyelid, not even the presenters.

  20. #20 clone3g
    February 19, 2007

    Ahcuah: Well, the obvious problem is that the author didn’t write that the rattlesnake bit the dog on the balls.

    I believe ‘Coin Purse’ is the preferred term.

  21. #21 Chemgeek
    February 19, 2007

    The use of the word “scrotum” doesn’t bother me. What really bothers me is the idea of getting bite by a snake in the scrotum! YIKES!!!!! That’s offensive.

  22. #22 llewelly
    February 19, 2007

    First thought on seeing the title: I knew Orac was a big fan of Dr. Doom, but I hadn’t realized Doom’s scrotum was so threatening …

  23. #23 kemibe
    February 19, 2007

    People not up to the challenge of providing kids 8 to 10 years old a simple explanation of what a scrotum is should probably not be teaching, at least not in this age bracket. This is independent of whether the book in question should be allowed (I plainly do not think so); not being up to the task would be like a hand surgeon with an absolute aversion to looking up the ass of a patient in the unlikely event an intrarectal inspection became necessary. He or she wouldn’t have to like it, but he or she would have to be prepared to do it.

  24. #24 Thony C.
    February 19, 2007

    I’d get really upset if my dog got bitten in the goolies by a snake.

  25. #25 Grumpy
    February 19, 2007

    A Discovery Channel show about how mannequins are manufactured used digital blurring to obscure the nipples of the female mannequins.

    Luckily, the male mannequins had no scrotums.

  26. #26 Zeno
    February 19, 2007

    Isn’t the preferred euphemism “golf bag”? We should all strive to use tasteful language so as to preserve our kiddies from language that isn’t. Tasteful, I mean. That is, to eschew the words with a bad taste. Like scrotum. Definitely not tasty. I mean, not in good taste.

    Oh, you understand.

  27. #27 Mnemosyne
    February 19, 2007

    Yes…how peculiar is it that we have a nation where children are exposed to innumerable sexual acts or references in the course of their childhoods thanks to the “wonders” of modern media, and yet there is an uproar over a children’s book that uses the proper anatomical term for a part of a boy’s body in a NONsexual way.

    That’s the funny part — they were talking about where a dog got bitten! How puritanical is someone when they can’t even stand a reference to the genitals of a non-human animal?

  28. #28 Great White Wonder
    February 19, 2007

    Just thinking of farmers stroking the pink nipples of their cows used to make me super horny.

    Then when I was 9, I read Judy Blume’s “Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing” and from that day on I became a scat fetishist.

  29. #29 Kenneth Mareld
    February 19, 2007

    Sadly a local radio right wing morning talk show host here in Seattle conflated this to ‘Hollywood’s hypersexualization’ of our children, and used Britney Spears’ (can you say schizoaffective disorder?) meltdown as proof. What the hell would they do with the word CLOACA?

    Lasse, Lasse,

    Ken

  30. #30 Tinni
    February 19, 2007

    My little cousin (~6 yrs. old) was explaining to her stork-believing friends how do we make babies. Her friends didn’t believe her so they all went to the teacher(female), who quickly began explaining not only the biology but also the mechanics (formerly unknown by my cousin)leading to conception. She stayed thinking about it all day until she went to gym class, where she went to her teacher (male) to ask if her daddy’s penis had “stood-up” when he was making her baby brother. The funny thing was that she considered her conversations to be the most natural thing, and when she arrived to our grandmother’s house she calmly began to tell my family about her day… Needless to say, we roasted my uncle that day, but no teacher got complained at and no kid got punished/screamed at.

  31. #31 Keith
    February 19, 2007

    Why if this is a childrens book does there have to be any mention of a scrotum? Why did the dog need to get bite in the scrotum by a snake? Why couldnt it be the leg. If the book is directed at children, how about we make it such.

    How about we let the parents teach the kids about anatomy and let the children be children for a while.

  32. #32 davidp
    February 19, 2007

    Many Australian childrens books have to be censored before release in the US. The illustrators draw a line between the buttocks. This is apparently considered obscene by US book publishers, and has to be removed.

    Based on US childrens books and cartoons, it appears that American animals are unable to excrete or reproduce.

  33. #33 PlanetaryGear
    February 19, 2007

    it’s not the use of the word that bothers me, it’s the imagery of being bitten there by a snake. I think that will give me nightmares tonight as if I were a third grader again…

  34. #34 The Ridger
    February 19, 2007

    Just wondering… do these parents let their children have male dogs? If so, what do they teach them to call the dog’s genitals? Or do they just freak out over it? That’s a wonderful to perpetuate the all sex is dirty meme to which they subscribe. I vote diapers for dogs around the children!!!

  35. #35 Bartholomew
    February 19, 2007

    Leviticus xxii, 24: “Al beeste, that … kitt and taken a wey the ballokes is, ye shulen not offre to the Lord…” (John Wycliffe’s translation, C14)

  36. #36 Melissa G
    February 19, 2007

    Why if this is a childrens book does there have to be any mention of a scrotum? Why did the dog need to get bite in the scrotum by a snake? Why couldnt it be the leg. If the book is directed at children, how about we make it such.

    How about we let the parents teach the kids about anatomy and let the children be children for a while.

    Keith, first of all, as I understand it, the scrotum-snakebite incident was a true incident which happened to the author’s dog, and the point of using that word is that the child thought the word sounded neat, leading to an appreciation of words. I don’t think “leg” would cut it in that context.

    Secondly, I assert that it is vitally important that children know the proper names of all their body parts. I assure you that my three-year-old knows what his scrotum is, and that it is a part of the body that all boys have. There is nothing age-inappropriate about this. If it’s proper for them to know the names of these parts, then there should be no problem with the names of these parts being in a book in a completely non-sexual context.

    Here’s an example of the consequences of not telling children proper names of parts– while spending the night at a friend’s house, a friend of mine got touched inappropriately by an older child in the household, and she hesitated for days in going to an adult for help because she didn’t know how to tell the grownup where she was touched. True story.

  37. #37 PZ Myers
    February 19, 2007

    If so, what do they teach them to call the dog’s genitals?

    Don’t you suspect that if they object to “scrotum”, they aren’t going to discuss “genitals” either? They pretty much are going to have to simply ignore the subject altogether.

    Unless they call them silly euphemisms like “hoo-ha-dilly”, in which case every sensible person is obligated to kick them in the dingle-wingle.

  38. #38 Skeptyk
    February 19, 2007

    We really are a screwball culture if this can get our panties – or “golf bag”, thank you, Zeno! – in a twist. Here, reposted from the Independent (UK), (http://www.commondreams.org/headlines07/0219-06.htm) the author explains (“The word is just so delicious”)

    One teacher blogger who is all upset about it, maybe did not read it, since she wrote: “But you won’t find men’s genitalia in quality literature … At least not for children.” Um, it was a dog’s scrotum, not a dude’s, what got snakebit.

    (Of course, men can be such dogs.)

    I am going to buy this book tomorrow.

    Poor doggy!

  39. #39 MarkP
    February 19, 2007

    “Shut up scrotum breath!”. Points for who can tell me what movie that is from, I forget.

    While we are telling true stories about true names for our naughty bits, here’s mine. We were in our junior high science class quietly telling a joke in which the word “vagina” appeared. One boy asked “What’s a vagina?”, far more loudly than we cared for given the presence of the female teacher, and we tried to hush him up. He reacted loudly: “Don’t shush me, I’ll say anything I want!”, and he began bouncing up and down in his chair yelling “VAGINA! VAGINA! VAGINA!”. At this point one of us clued him in as to the more colloquielly known term for what he was saying, and his subsequent attempt to shrink into the bottom of his chair, as the teacher just grinned in silent amusement at him, was one of those moments that 13-year-old boys never live down.

    See what agony his parents put him through by keeping him ignorant? We have to protect the children. Tell them about their vaginas and scrotums!

  40. #40 Russell Blackford
    February 19, 2007

    I’ve had one little experience of the educational market in the US – nothing as colourful as this, though. It involved a short story of mine that caused a problem because it involved fantasy-style magic (this was a kids’ story about heroes, monsters, magicians and stuff, got the picture?). It was, of course, perceived as “witchcraft”.

    There are some nutty people over there in the Bible Belt, but then again you didn’t need me to confirm that. Much bigger literary fish than I have had exactly the same problem.

    Hmmmm, let’s see now. I’ll try a double whammy: “As Spot leapt for his throat, Foo the Magician hastily mumbled a protective spell. Suddenly, a rattlesnake appeared in the air and bit the ravening Hell-dog on its scrotum.”

    I am now sooooooooo in trouble for writing that.

  41. #41 DuWayne
    February 19, 2007

    Kieth –

    How about we let the parents teach the kids about anatomy and let the children be children for a while.

    How the hell do you think parents teach their kids about anatomy? That bit aside, we expect our children’s schools to treach them. Teaching the body parts is a part of that. It is ridiculous to teach kids about their bodies, without teaching them what their “hoo ha, thing, ding-a-ling, pee-pee, etc.” is actualy called.

    When I was a child, I had no idea how to explain to my mother, that my testicles hurt when I peed. I didn’t know the word testicles, so I spent 3-4 months with a nasty infection that permamently enlarged my prostate – because it wasn’t addressed soon enough. It only got addressed when it did because it hurt so much, that I got caught crying in the bathroom. I was horribly embarresed by the whole thing, and carry the results of that embarrassment today.

    What is inapropriate, is making kids afraid to talk about their genitals. They are simply another part of the body. Most everyone has them.

    I’m sure there are a lot of items on the list of things you think should only be taught by parents. The problem with that is, many parents never do. I’m sure you’re afraid that if they learn about their bodies, kids will just go out and have the Sex. Well let me tell you, I was certifiably ashamed to talk to adults about my body. Mostly scared of talking to my friends about it too. Unfortunately, that led me to losing my virginity at thirteen and turning into a right whore, by seventeen.

    Had I known then, what I know now, I would likely have had the Sex anyways. But it would have been a lot more carefull. I wouldn’t have felt the need to figure out what the big deal about the Sex was, when I was thirteen. I would have been saved from the huge amount of guilt I felt, for having the Sex, that I probably wouldn’t have had at that age.

    What teaching kids about their bodies does, is make it less mysterious, less scary. It means they can tell their parents and their doctor, what’s wrong with what. It makes it less likely they will feel the need to expiriment behind their parents back. Teaching them about sex, makes it less likely they will have the Sex as early. It also makes it far more likely they will not get pregnant or get a horrible disease, when they do have the Sex.

  42. #42 dessessopsid
    February 19, 2007

    As a librarian (in Australia) the banning of this book in public libraries scares me. That is censorship and something that most librarians fight against. Children should be given opportunities to read and develop their language from an early age.

    I shudder at the thought of what these people would say about my being given Alan Ginsberg to read by my high school librarian, considering they can’t even cope with a basic anatomy term for a 9 year old.

  43. #43 Melissa G
    February 19, 2007

    “Shut up scrotum breath!”. Points for who can tell me what movie that is from, I forget.

    Mark, are you thinking of “penis-breath,” from E.T.?

  44. #44 Skeptyk
    February 19, 2007

    How about violence, hmmm? We have gore galore in library books yet rarely hear a peep about that from these folks so eager to protect the kids from the dreaded s-word.

    Many award-winning children’s books have dealt with truly obscene subjects, like the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears, the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Thankfully, we have had these available for our children. We teach toward a world of “Never Again” with these resources.

    And for those of us who are dog owners, I hope that most our male dogs have had their golf bags emptied.

  45. #45 cebm
    February 19, 2007

    An article I read this week-end about this story was actually comparing the Newbery award to being chosen for Oprahs book club. All round a sad situation. Scrotum, Scrotum, Scrotum, ok, now I feel better.

  46. #46 Liz Ditz
    February 19, 2007

    axilla! patella! clavicle!

    There now, I feel better.

    An aside: why do I find “scrote” to be rather vulgar, but “scrotum” not at all?

    Oh, wait, that’s a question for Language Log, not Orac.

  47. #47 MarkP
    February 19, 2007

    Right you are Melissa. Damn, I’m getting old, I can’t tell my scrotum from my penis. There’s one to explain to your 4th grader.

    Retiring to the background now.

  48. #48 denise
    February 19, 2007

    my husband and I are raising our ( then 5 year old )nephew (husbands side). The first time I took him to meet my mother we had dinner. In the middle of spaghetti he looks at me and says “fa china?” all forks fall motionless, eyes turn to me. My sister speaks first (with hef mouth full) “wha dith he thay?” Trying not to look at my mother, I respond to my nephew “Va gi na, It’s pronounces Va gi na, good job!” forks resume their courses, throats are cleared and my mother who is plum purple at this point wipes a tear of stifled laughter from her eye and just shakes her head and continues.

    my mother has always been easily embrarrased by body parts and made the choice to use the real names of things with us becuase she was embarresed by most of the nicknames. I don’t think she ever expected it to come back to roost at the kitchen table ;-)

    vagina! Scrotum! Rectum? Damn near killed em!

    Staphylococcus! Orogeny! Subduction!

  49. #49 Inquisitive Raven
    February 19, 2007

    Geeze,I wonder what these people would do with the scene in Kindergarten Cop where one kid solemnly informs Arnold’s character that “girls have a vagina and boys have a penis” (or words to that effect).

    My parents, both MD’s had no problem explaining basic reproduction to me. They even made use of a kid’s book illustrated with paper cutouts. The book in question also explained pollenization, and sexual reproduction of some animals other than human.

    When I was about 10 or 11, my mom decided that I needed to know about menstruation, so she handed me a booklet on the subject that included some detailed anatomical diagrams, and then held a Q&A afterwards. Yep, I’m female. Let’s hear it for medical parents.

  50. #50 Robster
    February 19, 2007

    Liz, I prefer “scruttox” when I want to be vulgar, yet humerous.

    I think I may buy a copy or two to donate to the local libraries. Hmmm.

    And now, for something completely different

  51. #51 Markk
    February 20, 2007

    I was around 16 years old, when in a church service, the preacher mentioned the hymen for some reason (How I wish I could remember the context of that one. Beauty of God’s creation, maybe?)

    Not knowing what that was, I asked my friends around me “What’s a hymen?”, loud enough for everyone to hear. Noone wanted to tell me, but oblivious to this, I simply kept asking until a friend explained everything.

    Was I ever embarrassed.

  52. #52 craig
    February 20, 2007

    “How about we let the parents teach the kids about anatomy and let the children be children for a while.”

    Half of these children have scrotums. (Scrota? scrotae?)
    How is it robbing a child of their innocence and childhood for them to just know the name of their own body part? How on earth is SCHOOL a bad place to learn anatomy?

    Pardon this, but people like you just make me dizzy… trying to comprehend how your minds work.

    Leave the teaching of anatomy to people who are afraid to utter the technical names of body parts? Yeah, there’s a plan.

  53. #53 Arakasi
    February 20, 2007

    I have a 7 month old son. Every night during his bath, my wife and I are teaching him the parts of his body. (Yeah, I know he doesn’t understand what we are saying right now, but he will eventually, and we want him to know what the words sound like). I’ve started singing the “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” while tapping or washing the body part in question. When we wash his genitals, the verse is “penis, scrotum, anus, butt*”

    I am kind of dreading the call from daycare the day that he first announces to the rest of his room “I have a penis!”

    * I’m still trying to think of a better closing word here

  54. #54 Robster
    February 20, 2007

    Innocence = Ignorance

  55. #55 zayzayem
    February 20, 2007

    I think a lot of kids who ask their teachers what this strange and new word means, will probably retort “Oh, you mean a ballsack, Miss?”. The book is helping expanding kids vocabulary into what the correct anatomy term is.

  56. #56 Sylvanite
    February 20, 2007

    Anatomy, and proper anatomical terms, should definitely be taught from day one. Since all too many parents seem to be afraid to discuss sex and sexual anatomy, then we should allow the schools to pick up the parental slack. If you wish to argue that schools shouldn’t be teaching such subjects, then as a parent, you really need to step up to the plate. With real terms and facts about sex.

    True story: I overheard a couple of teenage girls discussing sex. One asserted that you could prevent pregnancy by peeing after sex. Yes, she thought she peed out of her vagina. Dear lord. I made sure to disabuse her of the notion. I suggested that actual birth control, like condoms, would probably be better. If her parents were to take issue with my advice, they would be free to bite my ass. Their girl was sexually active already, and didn’t know what she was doing! She didn’t understand her own anatomy! Gah!

  57. #57 Dan S.
    February 20, 2007

    Watch, next we’ll have librarians and parents insisting that any book used in the school must refer only to “the 7th planet from the Sun,” “the second highest peak in Wyoming,” and of course, “that large lake high in the Andes between Peru and Bolivia“, rather than their actual names. Also that any historical or fictional character named “Richard” cannot be referred to by the common short form of that name.

  58. #58 batshit
    February 20, 2007

    Of course the real tragedy here is the missed opportunity to teach the importance of controlling pet overpopulation in this country.

    If that dog had been neutered, his scrotum wouldn’t have been dangling down there to tempt that rattlesnake. He would never have been bitten, and the story wouldn’t have been written.

    Instead it would have been a story about a child spending a carefree day with her neutered dog. Much happier ending!

  59. #59 radar pangaean
    February 20, 2007

    I consider it an interesting commentary on the mental health of western society to note that the body parts for which our cultures have the most names are those which we assert are ‘unmentionable’.

  60. #60 Grumpy Physicist
    February 20, 2007

    Uh, oh.

    Does that mean that gifts like this are now considered harmful?

  61. #61 Bird Advocate
    February 20, 2007

    This has got to be censorship’s finest hour!

  62. #62 Bird Advocate
    February 20, 2007

    The “sarcasm” brackets did not show up in my above post.

  63. #63 Monado
    February 20, 2007

    It’s funny what people will pick to be offended at. Mildly off-topic, but did anyone else wonder, when parents wanted the Harry Potter books pulled off the shelves because he told some lies to protect his friends, if they were mounting a similar campaign against Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer?

  64. #64 Monado
    February 20, 2007

    Or, as I read about 20 years ago, newspapers will print a picture of a person lying dead on the street when they would suppress a picture of the same person with pants off.

    There’s prudishness everywhere. Illustrations and models of cows show the udder as a squarish, shapeless mass. I had to visit a dairy farm to discover that the udder looks like a giant pair of testicles, um, enormous scrotum. It has shape! Two parts! Elasticity! Obviously obscene.

  65. #65 Zane
    February 21, 2007

    I’m so delighted to see this addressed on this blog. I was really peeved after reading about this in the NY Times. Item#1: I agree with Batshit, above. It would be nice to see fewer Marble Bags on dogs containing marbles–get them dawgies neutered! (Complete aside here: anyone familiar with “Neuticles”? –Synthetic implants for the neutered male dog, to keep up the appearance of being laden with the old marbles. And I quote from the website: “With Neuticles- It’s like nothing ever changed!” No joke.)

    Item #2: yes the last line in the NYT article really burned me, too–the book does not address human genitals, but a dog’s anatomy. Ugh.

    Anyhow, our lucky 3-year old has a Medical Parent (TM) who has ensured proper anatomical education from day 1. And I can guarantee he’s the only kid in his class who knows that, while what he sees on the boys is a penis, what he sees on the girls is the VULVA, NOT the vagina. And that fetuses grow in uteruses. And that his urine is stored in his bladder. Etc. Lucky kid.

  66. #66 Betty
    February 21, 2007

    Thanks, Zane. I’m a school librarian, and as such have been reading plenty about this freakout. That’s the first time I’ve noticed anyone get it right (this time around, anyway.) Same goes for last week’s “Hoohaa Monologues” incident. Refusal to name the vulva perpetuates the idea that the only girl-parts that matter are the internal ones, and causes a lot of confusion even among adults.

  67. #67 Nancy
    February 21, 2007

    What’s this about the author not understanding the age bracket of her audience? There are millions of people wh can enjoy books featuring protaganists outside their own age range– look at the millions of adults who the Harry Potter books, for one example.
    Both our kids grew up knowing the right names for parts, but sometimes this knowledge popped out at inconvenient times–as when our 3 year-old daughter was in the supermarket checkout line with her dad–she poked him in the crotch to get his attention, and loudly asked, “Daddy, I forget, what you call your bagina?” This was during the years when people were getting hysterical about satanic ritual child abuse–he got out of there with as much speed and dignity as possible, lest somebody think something bad was going on. Both kids seem to have grown up unscarred by knowing these terrible words.

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