Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Great Scrotum Flap

Did you read the New York Times front-page article by Julie Bosman on school librarians’ censorship of a Newberry Award-winning children’s book “The Higher Power of Lucky”?

It’s creating quite a flap as well it should. I wrote the following letter to Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz in response to her excellent column “One Word Ignites Some Librarians’ Ire”:

Re: Your great column on the great scrotum flap

Dear Connie,

Yesterday morning when I read the piece about "The Higher Power of Lucky" in the NY Times, I immediately sat down to write an op ed myself. But I could not come close to the one you wrote and I want to thank you for it. In particular, your sharing of the personal story is always the most compelling truth.

Honestly, is this flap not the lowest denominator of silly? What an illustration of what I call America's difficult relationship with sex! I thought about my four grandsons, age 9-13, just about the age range for this book, and hoped to goodness that they and their female peers know and can use correctly the word "scrotum" by now.

Sadly, this whole fracas will continue to repeat itself until our society does come to terms with sex and sexuality in a healthy way, until we boot the abstinence only people out of our schools and the real perverts--those who would rather keep people ignorant than informed--out of our school's libraries.

All best,

Gloria Feldt

There's also another great article by Rabbi Marc Gellman about it in Newsweek this week.

Just a couple of days previously, I’d received this post from Rev. Debra W. Haffner’s blog. She said:

I want you to look carefully at the sign for this theater in Atlantic Beach, Florida...what's showing tonight and through the weekend?

That's right. "The Hoohaa Monologues."

The WHAT?

It turns out that a woman passing by complained to the manager of the theater that the sign read "The Vagina Monologues." According to him, she explained that she didn't want to tell her daughter, who is old enough to read, what a vagina was.


I'll forgive you if you're smiling about now....but it really isn't funny. In fact, it basically proves the point of Eve Ensler's play. By denying women the names of the parts of their body, we in essence are denying their sexuality. If you've read my book, "From Diapers to Dating", you know that I believe that even the smallest children need to learn the names of the parts of body -- all the parts. It teaches them that all body parts have value, that we can talk about sexuality in our homes, it doesn't instill shame, and it equips them to tell if someone tries to touch them inappropriately.
I'd be happy to have the Religious Institute buy that mother a ticket to the play...I think she needs it. And her daughter needs to know not only that she has a vagina, but a vulva and clitoris as well.

Right you are, Debra! Ignorance has never been bliss, and in fact it almost guarantees unhealthy decisions simply because people do not have a clue what their choices mean. And as I said in my letter to Connie Schultz, the solution is to create a healthier relationship with sex in our culture. We’ll save ourselves as adults a lot of angst, but more important, we’ll save our children a lot of heartbreak and disease.

2 comments:

Erin W. said...

Oh my god. They're actually censoring the word "scrotum" from a book. It's the proper term for it too. I have not read this book, I must admit, but censoring a word, the proper term for something, is flat out stupid. Would the parents rather the author use childish slang like in the case of the "Vagina/Hoohah Monologues"? I may be a fifteen-year-old girl from North Carolina, but censoring the word "scrotum" is flat-out stupid and ignorant. Have the terms for sexual organs become like the N-word, becoming disgusting swearwords that are never to be said in polite company and only in trashy novels? Riiiight. It is "penis", "testicle", "scrotum" for boys, "vagina" "uterus" "clitoris" and "vulva" for girls. I don't mind slang when one is simply joking, but when one is being serious, then one should use the proper words.

Now that I think about it, the USA was indeed first inhabited by Puritans....

Ava said...

Well said.