Sunday, February 18, 2007

Tempest in a Teapot? Or Sac?

If you want to have insight into one of America's social problems, just jump over to "With One Word, Children's Book Sets Off Uproar" over at the New York Times.

Elementary school librarians all over the country are clucking about scrotum. Yep. Scrotum. Not images of chainsaw carrying murderers in newspaper ads, not screaming nymphs and decapitated Lotharios in television ads, Scrotum!--that most dangerous word to the peace and security of the nation.

It happens there's a new children's book, The Higher Power of Lucky, which has an early sentence which tells of an unlucky dog who'd been bitten on the scrotum by a rattlesnake.

According to the Times' Julie Bosman, this word has caused a virtual censorship of the book, even though it has won the Newberry Medal, a prestigious honor for children's literature.

It seems librarians and elementary school teachers don't want to have to explain the word to the children in their charge.

One librarian from Colorado gave Ms Bosman this quote, "“I don’t want to start an issue about censorship, but you won’t find men’s genitalia in quality literature. At least not for children.”

And why not? Mightn't some of our psycho-sexual social problems be mitigated with an early education about words which more formally identify various parts of the "genitalia?" Wouldn't it be better for children if they knew scrotum rather than nuts or balls? Vagina rather than pussy or (pardon me) the c-word?

In this time of "culture war" (a term used by the disingenuous right), isn't it better to have everyone know, and be able to use, acceptable language for all parts of the human body?

Over 40 years ago, a toddler nephew decided to "streak" the family at a Sunday dinner. His older brother, then about 5, shreiked with laughter, "I saw his penis!" I was momentarily stunned--"penis?!?" Then I thought my nephews were certainly on an easier path than the one set by my parents when I was told to be sure to "Wash your monk."

Elementary school librarians, in these times of heightened awareness are not to be faulted in this brouhaha. It's the responsibility of parents to help their children navigate the many paths to adulthood. A more judicious use of the language in speaking to children about the body would be a good place to focus attention. It would also help librarians to do their jobs.

Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

  1. One wonders if Maryland librarians are so faint of heart (