Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"You won't find men's genitalia in quality literature"

I was completely unaware that I have been teaching my children words that are dirty, unsavoury and now apparently outlawed by a tribe of small minded librarians.

The word in question is, dare I say it, is...

SCROTUM

A link on the wonderful Lowebrow led to an article in The New York Times where the children's book 'The Higher Power of Lucky' by Susan Patron has just been awarded a Newberry medal.

I read with growing horror that this bunch of prissy librarians are playing Book God and have decided that the word 'scrotum' is not suitable for children aged 9 - 12 and are banning the book.
What!
Dana Nilsson, a teacher and librarian from Colorado, apart from the title quote above, also said - "This book included what I call a Howard Stern-type shock treatment just to see how far they could push the envelope".

My God, I wondered, has Susan Patron plastered this book in scrotums? Were there scrotes in every chapter and sentence? Did the author use the word in an over sexualised way, encouraging corruption in our pre-teens?
.
No. No. No.
On the opening page a boy overhears a conversation where someone is describing how their dog got bitten on the scrotum by a rattlesnake.

"Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have got the flu and cough too much".

When the Feckers were young I taught them that words themselves are not taboo, only when they are used in ignorance. I've got news for you Ms Nilsson! Half the world has a scrotum and my children can not only tell you the correct word for genitalia, and other un-librarian like words, but they can also give a hundred juicy alternatives should you ever need one!

Read the whole article HERE .

22 comments:

Lee said...

Hi Minx. Just to let you know there's been a LOT of discussion about this online and off, including follow-ups in the NYTimes itself.

Lee said...

Here's A UK link about the whole blow-up:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article1409030.ece

And most bloggers interested in children's lit have had their say.

Minty said...

Minx,

I ONLY read things with the word "scrotum" in the text. That's how I found this post.

I thought everyone did this?

No? Yikes.

(Only kidding; I saw your comment on Marie's blog and I had to check it out.)

--Minty

Lee said...

A couple of letters to the NY Times editor:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/22/opinion/l22book.html

Atyllah said...

This one has really generated lots of debate. A friend suggested the whole thing was a marketing ploy - frankly, I wouldn't be surprised.

Cailleach said...

Scrofulous scrotum. There's one to turn your tum.

Never mind scrotes, what about the female genitalia? Are they to air brushed out of things too - just when it seemed to be coming up for air... please pardon those unintentiol puns there...

Saaleha said...

Twilight zone?! I thought this was the year 2007.

Minx said...

Thanks for the extra links, Lee.

I am still spitting bollocks!

The Moon Topples said...

Minx: I read somewhere that some authors (and some readers) have scrotums themselves. My guess is that this is some sort of urban legend, but you never know. It's a weird world.

I don't know what "spitting bullocks" means, but it sounds horrible. Please consult a physician.

Debi said...

Oh it has to be said - what complete and utter bollocks.
And balls.
And big round hairy cahanes (dunno how to spell that one but G uses it - the phrase I mean - all the time). Even - shock horror - in front of the CHILDREN!

(Awaiting the knock on the door from Social Services even as I type ...)

Shameless said...

When was the last time this librarian actually saw a scrotum? The answer probably explains this whole debate! :) Or, I wouldn't mind betting it's a marketing stir-up.

John said...

Debi: COJONES, Sp

Good, serviceable word, scrotum. Still, there's a certain charm in some of the old Vic euphemisms, like "articles," or "belongings."

But everyone knows we ought to be perfectly smooth "down there," like Barbie and Ken. If we're not, the least we can do is pretend...

Lee said...

No, I don't believe it's a marketing ploy. I've been following the discussion on one of my child lit listservs, and there's no hint of that. But frankly, I'm quite glad the author is getting all the additional attention, for it's a clever and subtle book in which a child is struggling, among other things, to sort out the world around her through the fragments she overhears/sees and doesn't quite understand, including scrotum.

Minx said...

I agree Lee, the author of this book is just someone who has long realised the value of understanding what a child goes through on the path to maturity.
The largest part of teaching, and of course parenting, is to ease our children into the adult world.
At six or seven, Big Fecker was distraught when someone called him a 'tampon'in the playground. Once equipped with the knowledge he could see the ridiculousness of the insult.

Barbie, Ken and their plastic world have no place in my house, John. The Feckers did have dolls to play with when they were very young, complete with 'articles'.

I believe that 'nads' is the current word, as in...

"Ahhh, Mum, I've just sprayed me nads with deodorant, do I need to go to the doctor?"

"No dear, just come down here, I have a sharp knife in the kitchen".

Newmania said...

I can`t see the problem with children knowing the word scrotum . I find it hard imagine that there aren`t about a 1000,000 things to do which are a better use of your time than campaigning for scrotum in children`s books though.

In general I think children are exposed to sex to much and this word in some contexts might easily be quite inapproriate.

Gorilla Bananas said...

There is an Irish blogger called "Ball Bag" whose blog is very popular. He's very keen on the word "cunt". You'll find cunt, cunto, McCunt, cuntorium and other variations in his blog, always used as humorous expletives. The humorous, non-expletive word for the female pudenda is "cha-cha". I have referred to cha-chas at least a dozen times in my blog and could spend the whole day talking about them.

Minx said...

I'm sure you could GB, but did you know that the word 'cunt' has evolved from 'cuntikin' (much nicer) and even nicer is that it originally meant 'quaint'. Ah bless.

Hi Newmania,
Yes, I agree that children are exposed to too much sex, but I would rather equip them with the right words in the first place. As for wasting time campaigning for scrotums I could not actually think of anything more worthwhile, could you?

Meloney Lemon said...

BALLS !

Minx said...

Bollocks? Ball bags? Nads? Sin bags? Crown jewells? Nadgers? Nurks? Bodgers? Rocks? Goolies? Knackers? Clackers? Love spuds? Hairy danglers? Chin jewellery? Nuts? Me boys? Plums? Giggle berries? Marbles? Love buns? Acorns?

Any more?

Confucious Trevaskis said...

I don't blame them for banning it....scrotum is a fucking horrible word............now if she'd used ballbag, nutsack or plum holder, I'm sure that things would have turned out differently..........
As for cuntikin........all I can say about that is....it's big and it's black and it's furry,and I be afraid of it...........

Minx said...

I agree, scrotum is an unattractive word, as are most of the other proper words for genitalia, but as John says it is serviceable. It probably wouldn't do for us all to be using our little pet names for our bits and pieces (not that women have bits and pieces - we are far too tidy for that!)

wolfbaby said...

Holy moly I don't believe it...that is so wrong!!!