The word is scrotum. Not balls, not baby-bean bags, not nut bags, not nuts, not even the pope’s figs. But according to the fuss about ‘The Higher Power of Lucky’, an author writing for children should not use such a word. OK, I can sort of see that if it were a rhyming book aimed at tiny tots. “Jack be nimble, Jack leapt over the totem. Jack misjudged its height and Jack banged his scrotum.”
But for kids ages 7 and up, I can’t imagine where the problem is, unless the children are raised by Puritan Victorians and tend to faint when confronted with words representing body parts or functions, such as thigh and burp. Librarians have been suggesting boycotting the book. Parents have been up in arms. Letters to the editor have been flooding the publisher.
I think that there is a serious disconnect in reality here.
By the age of 4, most children have witnessed at least two hundred and fifty murders on the television, some of which are in cartoon form. They have witnessed rape and drug abuse, alcoholism and prostitution. (And murders. Let’s not forget how blasé TV is about portraying someone getting shot.) As a matter of fact, I don’t think you can watch television and not see someone get killed.
So, children can watch murder but they can’t read the word scrotum?
Where is reality in this?
What is this teaching kids?
It’s teaching them that it’s perfectly acceptable to take a gun and run rampage in the streets shooting other people. In fact, they will probably become famous and get a million dollar book deal if they don’t shoot themselves first. It teaches them that the gangs are cool, and drive by shooting is all right. Murdering another human being does not raise eyebrows.
But it’s teaching them that parts of their own bodies are something to be ashamed about. Fifty percent of the world’s population has scrotum. Are they all going to be embarrassed about having scrotum but proud to own a gun, which kills other human beings?
Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where having a gun is something horribly embarrassing and having scrotum was perfectly normal?
Where, on TV, children can watch shows without a single murder, and maybe hear the word scrotum mentioned a few times. Maybe even the words breast, solar plexis, clavicle, malleolus, and scapula while we’re at it.