Sunday, February 18, 2007

what century do we live in?

When I was about 7 or 8 or so I tried out for the “minor leagues.” I’d played little league but had gotten too old and good for it. The problem—I was the ONLY girl trying out! I was determined nonetheless. Was I scared? You betcha! No girl had ever played in the minor leagues. It was unheard of. But I was going to progress. I was going to do my small part to change society... or at small town.

On one Saturday I grabbed my glove, my sneakers, my hat, and made the trek to the local high school for the big try-outs. As I recall, the boys weren’t as judgmental as the men were. They gave me looks—what is a GIRL doing trying out for my boy’s team?

Well, I showed them! I was picked for a team.

There is a point to this... although you’ll be surprised as to what it is.

The first day of practice was spent running laps, fielding balls, swinging a bat, oiling the glove, and so on. Although I’d tried out for pitching and could throw a strike every time, the coach said I wasn’t strong enough to throw a hard strike. So he put me in the outfield. I caught every ball. I was a good player. I blended. They forgot I was a girl. After practice the couch called us over. He went through a list of the things we needed our parents to get—new cleats, uniforms, new gloves for some kids, batting gloves, and cups.

I eagerly ran home and told my dad what I needed. When I got to the word “cup” my dad stopped me. I don’t remember him laughing (although if I were in his position I would have!). He explained to me why I didn’t need one. Boys had parts girls didn’t. Their parts needed to be protected.

Boy was I embarrassed! I never asked for a cup again.

This brings me to the book world. There was an article in the New York Times that was brought to my attention.

“With One Word, Children’s Book Sets Off Uproar

The word “scrotum” does not often appear in polite conversation. Or children’s literature, for that matter.Yet there it is on the first page of “The Higher Power of Lucky,” by Susan Patron, this year’s winner of the Newbery Medal, the most prestigious award in children’s literature. The book’s heroine, a scrappy 10-year-old orphan named Lucky Trimble, hears the word through a hole in a wall when another character says he saw a rattlesnake bite his dog, Roy, on the scrotum

The inclusion of the word has shocked some school librarians, who have pledged to ban the book from elementary schools, and reopened the debate over what constitutes acceptable content in children’s books…. The book has already been banned from school libraries in a handful of states in the South, the West and the Northeast, and librarians in other schools have indicated in the online debate that they may well follow suit.”

The further down, a quote—

“I think it’s a good case of an author not realizing her audience,” said Frederick Muller, a librarian at Halsted Middle School in Newton, N.J. “If I were a third- or fourth-grade teacher, I wouldn’t want to have to explain that.”

All I have to say is consider this—kids have the same body parts as adults! They have issues to deal with too! Not everything involving the lower regions is sexual! People—get a grip! This is the 21st century! This uproar has forced me to conclude that we’ve NOT progressed as much as I’d hoped, sadly. This topic HAS gotten me to use multiple exclamation marks, so I’ll give it that.



Nancy said...

I posted about this one too, though I don't have an anecdote like yours to lead with.

I just read Higher Power of Lucky this past Friday, and I'll admit, the word scrotum caught me by surprise. But ultimately, I think it fit, and I didn't have any worries about a fourth-grader reading the book.

Anonymous said...

I haven't looked at the book yet and for all I know the word might also take me by surprise but my wish is for a "sex" word to not get a book banned! That's just crazy!


Anna Alter said...

I completely agree! I mean if a teacher doesn't want to use the book because she doesn't want to talk about anatomy, fine. But to ban a book for that reason?? It really is depressing how puritanical our culture still is.

alvinaling said...

What a great story!