Her Bad Mother

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

They Had Me At 'Scrotum'

News Flash: 'Scrotum' is a dirty word. You know, like dick, or weiner, or purple-headed trouser snake (which is, I know, four words, but still.)

You do not want your children to ever hear the word scrotum. Or read it. It will scar them, or, at the very least, prevent them from ever being able to appreciate Quality Literature, in which, I am told, no references to male genitalia ever appear.

(Ah, but wouldst thou have considered Shakespeare, who hath prick'd out many a character for our pleasure? For whom love might be no more than open-arse and poperin pear? Fie! Naughty Shakespeare!)

This may not be news to you. You, gentle reader, may already be well aware of the pernicious effects of the word 'scrotum' - even when used to very briefly describe the relevant part of the anatomy of male mammals - and so will have thrown your lot in with the good people who are calling for a ban in school libraries of this years' winner of the Newbery Medal for distinguished contribution to children's literature, >The Higher Power of Lucky.

If, however, you were not so aware - which is to say, if you are one of the ignorant masses who cling to the regressive and pernicious belief that the works of Shakespeare - or, for that matter, Aristophanes or Plautus or Machiavelli or (gods help us) Judy Blume - are more than common smut, you can consider yourselves hereby enlightened.

You're welcome.

Ignorant philistine that I am, I had not been aware of the distinction between Quality (Smut-Free) Literature, and Great (Smutty) Literature, until the ever-alert Mir revealed in her discussion of the excoriation of Lucky - which you can find in the den of iniquity that is the Sandbox at Maya's Mom - that there is an entire segment of the population that has known this all along. We should all look up to these people, no? They can show us the way out of ignorance.

(I love Mir, not least because she took a very flattering photograph of my breasts at last year's BlogHer.)

(I also love Maya's Mom, which is kinda like a chill-out room within the bigger party that is the momosphere's bustling salon. You should check it out.)

(Oh, and? If you do join Maya's Mom? You must ask me to be your friend. I promise to neither show you my breasts, nor shout the word scrotum at you, if those things offend you. If, however, you like that sort of thing, well, we'll see what we can do.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

God forbid children should learn the correct names for their body parts. Although I do think it was odd choice of words-the author could have said the dog was bitten on the nose, or the leg-so it would seem that she almost wanted to stir up some kind of controversy by using the word scrotum.

By the by, I have a Maya's Mom page. It's been fun getting messages from bloggers I would have otherwise probably never met.

4:23 PM  
Blogger MsPrufrock said...

I will never understand how the usage of actual medical designations can be deemed offensive. Is it really a good thing for children to grow up only aware of euphemisms so that they are 35 and using words like "hoo hoo" and "pee pee" with no hesitation?

Oy vey...oh, and nice rack!

4:25 PM  
Blogger S said...

Isn't it awful? I wonder what Ray Bradbury thinks of all this. His Fahrenheit 451 foretells quite a bit of what's going on in the US with regard to book-banning, from Harry Potter to this latest. Sometimes I wish I had the guts to leave the US behind and move to Europe. I cannot stand living in a country where using the word 'scrotum' in a non-sexual context causes such controversy. It was used in a non-sexual context, people! This topic never fails to give me a headache. How can we explain to the believers how idiotic their stance really is? Depressing.

Oh, and HBM? I don't appreciate having my word verification string be 'fatsy.' Can you do something about that? :)

4:27 PM  
Blogger gingajoy said...

Bollocks! Bollocks to all of them, I say!

I just joined Maya's Mom. Because I am a social networking QUEEN. And don't you know it.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Creative-Type Dad said...

I disagree with everyone.

I think "scrotum" is digusting and vile, and they should never be exposed (especially when snakes are around.)
They should use "balls" instead - just like the scientific community.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Banning a book because of the word scrotum is ridiculous. Although it is one of those words that is just...icky. I agree with creative-type dad...I'd rather hear balls. Did I just type that?


4:48 PM  
Blogger Maman said...

Hell... I want to read the book because it has scrotum in the first sentence... Fun Daddy and I made a pact years ago not to stop kids from reading "inappropriate" books... cuz the were READING! And that was a goal... Even looking up dirty stuff requires skills...

5:04 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Creative-Type Dad - I have to admit that I too find the word scrotum a touch displeasing, aesthetically. Although I don't know that balls is an improvement. In any case, aesthetic distastefulness should not be grounds for censorship.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a hot topic around my office. i reviewed this book for use as a read-aloud for grade 4 in our program, but it was quickly axed. there is no way that we can use the word scrotum in the classroom.

it's ridiculous, though, because it's a great book...and i would have loved to have included it. bah.

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once wrote about Banned Books Week, and in my research I discovered that the series of Anastasia Krupnik books - the ones that inspired my older daughter's name - are frequently objected to. I was utterly flabbergasted.

There's also a book I read as a pre-teen called "Maudie and Me and the Dirty Book" by Betty Miles. It's about two girls who volunteer to read to younger kids and choose a book that describes the birth of puppies. Naturally, the kids draw the girls into an innocent discussion of sex ed (how did the puppies get in there?) and a legal battle ensues. Kee-razy.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

I feel like an idiot but I had to look up what "scrotum" exactly is. When I saw the definition, I shouted, "AH, yes, ballsacks!". My 6 year old turned to me and said, "What did you say mommy?". Let me tell you, I'd rather she run around yelling 'scrotum', rather than 'ballsacks'!

I must get the New York Times here. I miss all the interesting news.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Don't these people know that when they ban a word like this, all it makes me want to do is walk into a library and scream SCROTUM!

7:36 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Oh and Nate informs me that balls is not the proper synonym. It would, in fact, be ball sac.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

Okay my penis story is an excellent cautionary tale for giving children any words at all, especially Anatomically Correct Ones.


Children will find words, and use them liberally. Period. First and Third graders in particular seem to relish teaching younger ones Naughty Stuff.

I'm just sick of Poop. Really.

And Underpants.

And my kids haven't even ever read those underpants books.

So this is silly.

They are just creating a counterculture [shaking head].

Wait, I'm hearing a sound, it's


a ha!

the sound of butts---asses?---clenched so tight they squeak

7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many words is "cum-soaked barn slut?"

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in the South and have relatives who believe Harry Potter is evil because the books promote satanism and witchcraft....seriously. They obviously haven't read them. I would bet these morons haven't actually read the book either. I grew up surrounded by idiots like this, luckily my parents are much more enlightened and I was allowed to read anything I wanted. I wish I could say I was surprised by this. Hopefully, calmer, more intelligent heads will prevail.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, friend, does this mean that you've figured out Maya's Mom? I still haven't, and I was finding the emails rather annoying. I canceled them, and now I forget to go to the site. What's the trick?

Oh, and...SCROTUM! Because it's just a fun word to say.

9:58 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Danny: That depends. Is 'barn-slut' one word or two?

MMTM: I think that I've figured it out. You can turn off the preferences to receive notifications on journal entries or posts. I keep some of them on, though, and click through when a 'friend' pops up or when there's a journal entry that interests me. I think it's just a matter of getting your preferences to a settign that suits you.

Go back in! We can hang there!

10:13 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

Sorry, another Maya's Mom question---I just joined and have about 6 people already emailing me to be my friend. This feels a little 'myspace' to me---am I supposed to add people who want to be my friend if I don't know them? Is it mean to say 'no'? Two hours later and I'm afraid I don't have a clue what to do! Many thanks for your guidance!

10:19 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

FOM: My guess would be that if you don't want to add people as your friend, you certainly don't have to. Maybe just don't respond until you've figured out how you want to participate? I don't know anything about myspace, so I can't compare, but so far it seems to me that at MM you can participate as much or as little as you like.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

okay, so 'scrotum' is, indeed, a funny word to say and spell and, in and of itself, a funny body part, but a dirty word?? c'mon.

I think I'll make it my word of the day tomorrow and try and include it in as many sentences as possible.

10:51 PM  
Blogger Kyla said...

My FIL is disgusted by the word scrotum. Sooo, when we found out BubTar was a boy we had great fun passing the sonogram photo around the room and taking turns saying, "Oh! I see the scrotum right there! Look at that scrotum, definitely a boy!" while he cringed in the corner.

11:55 PM  
Blogger N. said...

I use to think that Scrotum was the name of the piano playing character in the Peanuts comic. I think my dad put me up to this.

I love banned books - I read and buy as many of them as possible.

My husband's brother favours banning Harry Potter, Charmed, Buffy, and anything else that blithely portrays the presences of witches, wizards, magic or demons. He says it makes children complacent to the real life presence of demons and everyday threat of magic in their lives. He fears his kids no longer believe that demons and witches are real and walk among us doing the work of Satan. Did I mention my Brother-in-law is a baptist?

1:23 AM  
Blogger NotSoSage said...

Oh for goodness' sake. What the hell is wrong with some people?

I was the kid who, as soon as I walked into church with my parents, a running monologue of every bad word I wasn't allowed to say started up in my head. I never had any desire to use those words, otherwise (at least not until I was older). I certainly wouldn't have wanted to add scrotum to my repertoire...it doesn't exactly roll off the (mental) tongue.

3:13 AM  
Blogger SciFi Dad said...

I wrote about this too. The thing that struck me was the fact that the book is intended for 9-12 year olds; the exact age range most curriculums cover family studies and discuss the proper terms for that part of the anatomy.

6:47 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Oh this one... yes, it's been making the rounds even before the Newbery was announcd in Jan as a potential problem, but it really exploded after the awards were announced, when more people started to look more closely at it. Eek! I think it is even a dog's scrotum, and just mentioned in passing as part of a description, by no means a lingering glance. But god forbid our children should no anything about anatomy, let alone with proper terms! (This novel is, btw, one that would usually be recommended for about grades 4-7, I would think, at which time they are beginning to veer into the volatile and dangerous world of beginning to get health education - sex-ed - in schools! You can well imagine it's the same people who faint at the thought of that too who are freaking out.)

7:50 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Would you believe I never knew what a scrotum was until ninth or tenth grade? utterly embarrassing.

but hell, I was always a late bloomer...

9:11 AM  
Blogger Beck said...

There was some graffiti on a rock near my high school that read "GO NADS" and I thought until very, very recently that the Nads were a sports team that we were cheering for. Go Nads, indeed.
Having said that, I AM a religious person. I don't have problems with the Harry Potter books (I've read them aloud to my oldest child, even) but I do have friends who do have problems with those books that are very legitimate to who they are as a family. But I don't think that's the issue at hand here - the issue is whether people have the right to regulate vulgar language in older children's books. My feelings are that while they'd be innappropriate within a classroom setting, they'd be completely fine in a library - the difference between values being imposed and people being allowed to choose what their children are exposed to.

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If my boobs looked like yours, I'd never stop looking at them. Ummm...did that sound wrong to you?

10:50 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I don't know if scrotum is such a bad word, as it is a bad visual. I can see banning books that illustrate these nasty looking teste bags. That would be a good thing for all of us. :)

11:10 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Hi. Just wanted to let you know that I read your blog all the time...and I really enjoy it! You're great!

11:23 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I don't care if my girls read the word scrotum, write it, hear it, giggle over it, roll eyes over it...as long as they don't actually touch one for a very very very long time.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well if we looked back at some of the books that have been banned before we'd laugh.i mean the next banned book will make people laugh at the uproar scrotum is causing.like previously banned books that no one thinks twice about reading now.LAVENDULA

11:36 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Scrotum, scrotum, scrotum!

Ok. Now I've got that out of my system.

I really think that banning books is never the answer. I like the subtlety of Beck's comment: there is something about a school setting that is different from a library.

But. Dog scrotum? Why ban this? It sounds all Mrs-Revd-Lovejoy: "WON'T ANYBODY THINK OF THE CHILDRENNNNN???" It seems more like a bunch of freaked out parents.

12:07 PM  
Blogger the mystic said...

I could have used your help the other day -- I'm writing a piece of fiction, and could not find the right word. I started with testicles, but wasn't happy with it.

I asked my husband for help, he suggested "scrotum?"

Too clinical I said.

He said, "balls?"

Too vulgar for this story I said.

He shrugged, "Nut sac?"

Too juvenile I screamed! Never mind, just get out of here!

It is a hard body part to talk of tastefully in a literary fashion, but for a kids' book, why not the medical term for Christ sake???? People can be so incredibly stupid sometimes.

1:33 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

I think I just rolled my eyes when this story first came out. So typical. Why do some people/parents fear words so much? Words that have meaning? Do they want their children to be ashamed of their private parts? Because by reacting this way, that's what they're teaching them...it's something to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Grrrr.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Redneck Mommy said...

I'm with Mom-101, I just want to walk into a library and scream the word 'Scrotum!' But this is coming from the lady who very loudly talked about her vagina at her friends place of work, so loudly that the next day my friend was asked by a coworker how my vagina was holding up.

I'm so classy.

And my husband prefers 'Mooseknuckes' to scrotum. Just thought I'd share.

Cuz I'm thoughtful too.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Redneck Mommy said...

Mooseknuckles that is.

Sheesh. Won't be winning any spelling bees soon!

12:15 PM  

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