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So I really hate censorship. But that's not what really gets me about the controversy surrounding this book.

Now, I'm not a parent. Not even close. So I can't really comment on the nature of parenting. These are just my opinions and theories.

But what I took away from the article, (which is about a children's book that uses the word "scrotum" for those of you who didn't want to click the link) is that parents and teachers don't want to have the uncomfortable discussion with their children about what a scrotum is.

And THAT makes me upset. It's one thing to ban Harry Potter because you think it will make your children satan-worshiping, tree-hugging pagan atheists (though it would be quite impossible to be both pagan and an atheist, but we'll assume that those who think Harry Potter promotes demon worship wouldn't know the difference anyhow), or something crazy like that. But not wanting to explain "scrotum" to your 10 year old? That might border between lazy and in denial.

There has always been this debate going on about sex education in school (which encompasses the messy abstinence versus safe sex debate) and how much of the education should be placed on the schools and how much on the parents.

Now, on paper, I'm a big supporter of parents being involved in sex education, but I can understand how uncomfortable of a topic that is. And frankly, if parents are only teaching abstinence, then I'd like the kids to get the "if you're going to have sex (which you shouldn't), USE A CONDOM" speech.

The point is--raising kids can be uncomfortable, at times. But I think a book like this would be a good testament to a person's parenting. Are your kids comfortable coming to you with uncomfortable issues? What would you say if your kid asked "what's a scrotum?"

I guess there are three responses I can think of:
1) "That's a grown-up word and you don't need to know it" (dismissive and closed - not a good parenting style)
2) "Look it up in a dictionary" (less dismissive and closed - at least you're not shutting down the active knowledge acquisition, but not great)
3) "Oh, well that's the skin that boys have around their testicles" (uncomfortable, but open, honest, and creating a welcomed environment for learning and asking questions)

The parents and teacher wanting to ban the book seem to be in the first camp, whereas (I'd like to think) that as a parent, I'd be down in camp 3.

That, and I'm not overly offended by the word "scrotum." It's better than saying "ball sac."



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 22nd, 2007 02:15 am (UTC)
I'm on a kick here, I'm going to respond to a bunch of your posts! Well, ok, only when I have something to say.

I think it's fairly obvious what my beliefs are about parenting and being open about things. I think, first of all, how could you object to a medical term!? It's not like the book uses a weird metaphor like "twig and berries"--though there was no outcry over Austin Powers, which was clearly for kids (um, mostly)--and even though I'm not sure how in the hell that would ever come up in a kids book, who cares? It's not like scrotum, or ball sac (I SO giggled out loud when I read that) are synonymous with boning or unprotected, HIV-spreading gay butt sex or something!

Oh, and I like option number two myself. Here's why. If parents think it's awkward, having the kid look it up for him/herself will mean no one gets embarrassed in each others' presence and the kid can make faces and giggle, and then look up the words in the definition they don't understand, like "testes". My mom was always making me look up words, so I remember the day I got the brilliant idea to look up things like orgasm and clit and shit in the dictionary, which in turn lead me to the encyclopedia. And thus began my actual sex ed.

Besides, if you can get pooped and shat and peed on and say things like "Mommy thinks you look just adorable in that [gay] sailor's suit!" to a 12-year-old and not be embarrassed, they can explain ball sac.
Feb. 22nd, 2007 02:34 am (UTC)
I think I will take back my dictionary comment. While not being as open, it still fosters analytical thinking and reduces the awkward level by a TON. Actually, as a child, I'd be much happier to go running to a dictionary, which I totally did as well. In fact, we had a "medical dictionary" which was even better for looking up those too-embarassed-to-ask-the-parents-about terms, and it was in a more appropriate resource for most of it. (I totally still look up certain things on the internet--in dictionaries, wikipedia, or webmd--because every once in a while I'm like "what the hell is that again?" After all, 5th grade sex ed was a WHILE ago and clinical terms aren't usually the ones that stick in your head.)

The only reason I scoff at that option is that it replaced the discussion element. And for certain things (especially getting into the more complex discussions about having sex or sexual orientation), a definition isn't really what is needed.

And while you giggled at my use of "ball sac," I totally cracked up over "unprotected, HIV-spreading gay butt sex." Oh man. Nothing more professional than the term "gay butt sex."

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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