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Friday, March 02, 2007

A ball is a ball is a ball...

This issue can be so funny if it wasn't for the deeper implications it raises. Here is an article about another book that is being criticized for a word used within the first pages. What one word could possible raise such a ruckus? SCROTUM. Did that shock you? Did it offend your moral sensibilities to hear the word?

It doesn't really do anything for me but apparently it raises the hackles of some people. I have to admit that I hadn't read the book yet, but I will just to see what the fuss is about.

The children's book written by Susan Patron, The Higher Power of Luckyis this year's Newberry Medal winner and it is recommended for children from grades 4-6. The story is about a 10 year old girl named Lucky whose mother is struck by lightning and dies. Lucky's father then asks his ex-wife to take care of Lucky while he is off elsewhere. This is about Lucky and her friends going through the usual angsts of growing up, and growing up without her real parents at that.

The fuss about the book comes about from the reference to the dog's scrotum being bit by a snake (sounds pretty funny to me) at the beginning of the story. Apparently, because of this word, the work becomes unsuitable for reading aloud, and some would even insist not suitable for reading in silence either. Because of the S word. I do not understand what is so wrong with the word. It is the correct term for that body part, right? That body part does exist and not just an imagined perversion, correct? So you would call your head a head, your arm an arm and not think twice about it; so why not call a scrotum a scrotum? I tried to think of other euphemisms (some have suggested it could have been implied in another way) but could only come up with balls. How about you? How many other ways can you call "the thing"?

I know many of us were raised with funny (and I really do mean funny)
ideas about sexuality, but I would like to think that as we grew older and more educated that we have shed some of the puritan ideas we have about sex. I remember my mom having a hard time explaining sex to us and even referred us to the dictionary when cornered with a word she couldn't explain without blushing. I'd like to think I'm a little better with my girls. At least they know their 'thing' is called a vagina and not 'pek-pek'. OK, my mom will argue that pekpek is a word. Yes, but it's a ilocano/filipino word and even at that it is not the proper name for the proper name is also considered vulgar even in the Philippines. Thank goodness for a second language to mask our inhibitions about calling body parts their proper names! But really, what is it about calling IT by it's proper name? Why is that bad?

Besides, most kids nowadays, unless they have been cloistered, will know all these terms by the time they are 9 or sooner (and at least 10 euphemisms to boot). At least mine do... and sometimes in a second language, even!

Words are only dirty when you make them to be.

16 comments:

Leah said...

Its true, The IT gets called so many names especially in the Pinoy language. I say peching or pekpek to my daughter. I dont remember ever saying it in English to her. Hmnn.let me quiz her, maybe she does know it.

This book sounds interesting...and the controversy is probably helping in sales.

I do agree with you, how else will you call it?

celia kusinera said...

I agree, it only becomes 'bad words' with our attitudes to it.

Teka muna, I'm commenting really on that vedy vedy nice picture (of your house?) at the top. Did your hubby drew it? Ganda ah. The colouring goes well with the rest of the template. :)

JMom said...

hi leah, your baby is still a bit young, she may not know it especially if you've never told her the name. My youngest, when she was about 2 or 3 used to call it 'big china'. lol!!

hi celiaK! thanks, yung headear ay regular photo lamang na pinaglaruan ko sa photoshop :)

Francesca said...

exatly! nasa isip na madumi lng yan,sama na yung word na vagina or penis of a cat!
hay naku, baka catholic sila, type of holier than thou, di na masabi ang scrotum...
lol

ann said...

I say "pepe" to my daughter and "putoytoy" to my boys.

It is really very difficult to discuss to our kids about sex. I don't know when is the right time for them to know about this matter.

JMom said...

francesca, hindi lang Catholics ang may phobia sa kanilang mga body parts. Mga yun takot yata sa mga parte ng katawan na nang-gagalingan ng sarap dahil baka maabot nila kaagad ang langit :-P

Ann, very hard talaga, lalo na if you were raised to not utter the words either. Pero practisin mo sila, para hindi sila matukso pag dating ng HS or college pag narinig ng mga kaibigan na tawagin ang kanilang ari ng putoytoy :D lol!

And you know it's the right time to talk to them about it when the bring it up. Just keep communication open so they won't get embarassed to ask you when the time comes.

Sugarmama said...

Well, I suppose I might argue that a dog being bitten on the scrotum is a little gratuitous for a kids' book. That certainly wouldn't keep me from buying it for my daughter, though, if it was otherwise recommended. And I'm sure SHE'D certainly find it funny.

I had a friend who was a midwife and I got the idea from her to call girl parts a "gina." (Short for vagina, of course, and not the name Gina.) As she pointed out, what you're actually looking at if one is facing you straight on is the labia and not the actual vagina. That said, you still want to keep a name not too cutesy and also not so far off the mark.

Joan said...

My son just finished 3 years of sex ed at his middle school. He will ask me about anything and everything. He knows more about female issues than I did at his age. I'm glad he feels comfortable talking to me - now that I'm over the shock of what he might say.

HiPnCooLMoMMa said...

my kids know what it's called, and they dont have a problem with it, and i don't have a problem hearing it either, pero nasanay na kasi ako sa terms na "pepe" and "pititoy"

dexiejane said...

i heard about all that scrotum hoopla. geez. like everyone said, it's all how people perceive such words. some can be so gungho about it without even thinking what they're gunghoooing(LOL) about..:)

vernaloo said...

When I was in elementary, my Home Economics teacher (who is also my Aunt) called the vagina "esprikit night in the moonlight" and the penis "esprikitnot in the moonlot". So bata pa lang parang may ganung thinking na na hindi puwedeng sabihin yung term na vagina at penis kasi bastos or bad word sha when in reality it's really not.

JMom said...

hi sugarmamma, exactly, juvenile readers will find that scene funny. They seem to think anything that has to do with certain body parts and functions are hillarious.

Hi joan, I know what you mean with the shock factor. I had to work at not cringing visibly everytime my daughters came home with questions stemming from sex ed at school. :) I too am glad that they feel more open to talk about it though. I'd rather that they ask than to guess like we had to because it was just too uncomfortable a subject for our parents.

Girlie, hehe! lahat tayo guilty nun. I still use those terms often, pepe, pekpek, etc. As long as they know the proper names.

that is true, dexie...which makes me wonder if they really do think the word is immoral?

Verna, grabe namang haba ng pangalan na yun! lol! But true, our training of not being able to say IT starts at an early age from adults who also had the same training. I think it's time to break the cycle, don't you? :)

sexy mom said...

oh well, what's in a word? depends on who is using it or reading it.

as to the S word, it was probably used to stir up controversy and jack up sales

Toe said...

"At least they know their 'thing' is called a vagina and not 'pek-pek'. OK, my mom will argue that pekpek is a word."

Ahahaha... that's really funny... why do those words sound dirtier nga in Tagalog?

Yeah, you're right... a dog's scrotum getting bitten by a snake does sound funny... except of course if you're the dog. :)

JMom said...

hi sexy mom, if the S word wasn't used to drum up controversy and interest, then the people who made all the hoopla over the book just helped boost it's sales, di ba? Because now, I am really interested in reading the book! :)

hi toe! oo nga ano? they do sound really vulgar, to me too! So I'm still learning along with my girls. Everytime I say the V word, I have to force if off my tongue. haha! I hope my girls learn faster than I do :)

vina said...

scrotum scrotum scrotum scrotum scrotum scrotum scrotum scrotum scrotum...

whew! nakakapagod! :P