Books are our gateway (or Genital Euphemisms)

23 03 2007

And yet… they’re censoring what they show to kids… There’s a difference between sheltering them from the truly offensive and the proper and correct. After my humorous post earlier, here’s the meat of the problem.

Author Susan Patron [wiki] won a Newberry Award [wiki] for her book ‘The Higher Power of Lucky’. The controversy sprouted when one of the lines read: when he saw a rattlesnake on the passenger seat biting his dog, Roy, on the scrotum.

There it is. The highly offensive word. The scientifically correct term for the flesh pouch where the testes sit. Look in an anatomy text. It says scrotum.

“Somehow,” Patron said, “there’s a perception in America that you can put your kids in front of the TV, let them play certain kinds of games and expose them to absolutely atrocious levels of violence and language. But somehow the book is sacred. And especially the Newbery winner.”

Personally, I was watching things like “The Benny Hill Show”[wiki] and “Are You Being Served?”[wiki] when I was 3 or 4 years old. It was funny. It’s pretty risque, but when you’re that young? You really don’t know all the sexual connotations associated with humor like that. And it’s not even like Patron’s book was intentionally offensive.

Using euphemisms for genitalia is just going to create more problems in the long run. See the below example concerning The Vagina Monologues [wiki]:

In Florida, a theatre performing The Vagina Monologues was pressured into changing the title on the marquee, because the protesters were evidently unprepared to explain to their children what a “vagina” was when the little tykes read it in passing. The solution? For about two days, the marquee read “The Hoohaa Monologues.” Not only does this contradict the entire idea behind The Vagina Monologues—that is, that society should be more open about talking about vaginas—but it doesn’t even solve the problem.

Children are still going to ask what a “hoohaa” is, and I imagine the parental talk that ensues will be even more embarrassing, because “hoohaa” is to “vagina” what “hooters” is to “breasts.” Hooha is a childish, funny-sounding, misogynistic euphemism for a female body part that basically tells girls that their genitalia is too weird or dirty or gross to talk about properly in public.

No matter what you do. Kids are going to grow up. Kids are going to come up against the real words for anatomical parts. And then they’ll see how ridiculous this whole thing was in the first place.




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