What’s in a name?

Orac over at Respectful Insolence reports that an award-winning children’s book has been banned from some libraries in america, because, heaven forbid, it uses the word scrotum. Not in any dirty sense either, but by a character explaining where his dog had been bitten by a snake. As some people point out, the idea of a dog being bitten in the scrotum by a snake is itself far more offensive than the use of the word scrotum. I’ll say it again for good measure. Scrotum.

Seriously, kids aren’t allowed to know what body parts are called? You really think that a schoolgoing child doesn’t already know what testicles are? What term exactly would these prim and proper librarians have preferred the author use? Ball-sack? Teabag? Gonads? Lunchbox? The Twins?

And frankly, I do not get the point of euphemisms for any purpose other than creative speaking. Whether I say scrotum, balls or man-purse, you know what i mean. All three terms conjure in your mind the concept of testicles. Whether a child says penis or pee-pee, it all means the same thing. You’re still saying a word that means a body part. The very fact that the word ‘pudendum’ is from the latin for ‘shameful thing’ tells you that sometimes the euphemism even becomes the dirty word. This only happens because regardless of the string of letters you use to define it, you’re still talking about something dirty, and everyone knows it.

The fact is, kids today know a lot more about sex and body parts than parents and teachers would like to imagine. At the very least, let them learn the right words for it.


31 Responses to “What’s in a name?”

  1. Con-Tester Says:

    “Comments may contain nuts”, eh? 😉

    Maybe the author’s an Aussie and meant to suggest a kiddie version of “the dog’s bollocks”.

    More seriously, it’s yet another facet of head-in-the-sand denial. How many calvinistic old tannies do you know who in their own minds don’t have any wobbly bits?

  2. Nuts to that! This really makes me testy.

  3. I`ve always loved pudendum as a word. It`s up there with quim and jade gate.

  4. jade gate?

    Definitions of jade on the Web:

    * a semiprecious gemstone that takes a high polish; is usually green but sometimes whitish; consists of jadeite or nephrite
    * adulteress: a woman adulterer
    * of something having the color of jade; especially varying from bluish green to yellowish green

    green, but sometimes whitish!!!!one!!1!!eleven!!1
    varying from bluish green to yellowish green!!!1
    i hope you are talking about a gate to a building or something like that!

  5. More like “harmonious entrance”.

  6. Also did you know that in traditional Chinese medicine, the term for “kidney” denotes also “gonad.”

  7. Some of the jade at work has white veins in it. I sell different types jade and the colour depends on how long it has been in the ground (that also effects the price). It’s a lucky stone.

  8. Con-Tester: the only thing under their skirts is more skirts…
    kyknoord: A nutritious meal often helps with that. I suggest meat and two veg.
    babyacidKidney = gonad??? Yet more evidence that chinese medicine is sooo first century
    Dystopia, babyacid, nantalith et al: jade is the imperial gem in chinese culture, symbolising not only the confucian virtues of wisdom, justice, compassion, modesty and courage, but also the female-erotic. Jade Gate specifically was the name of a pass through the Great Wall connecting central asia and china. The use of the term to refer to female genitalia (with the corresponding ‘jade stem’ for the male) seems to originate in Taoist literature.

    That said, it’s a fairly pretty euphemism. Infinitely superior to the current american vogue of ‘vah-jay-jay’. A blight on the english language if ever there was one.

  9. “The jade stalk will be greatly enlarged and will move, sometimes slowly, sometimes rapidly. The jade gate will open, easing the entry of the strong adversary and absorbing its essence to irrigate the scarlet chamber.”


  10. Another interesting fact is that the euphemisms in Toaist literature can also indicate the deepness of penetration. “…her Mixed Rock…” is 4 inches deep, “…her Wheat Bud…” is 2 inches deep.

    They should teach this in schools.

  11. i think the problem i have here is that jade is green. human genitalia should not be green!!!one!!1!!eleven!!!

  12. A character in a Tom Robbins book called her genitalia the “Peach Fish” which has always stuck with me as being somewhat cute and also conjures images of weird creatures in the deep.

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