3.10.2007

vagina

Is everyone still alive? Did anyone have a heart attack when they saw the title of this post?

By now you've probably all heard about the three girls who were suspended from school for saying the word "vagina".

At a school event, three honour students at a suburban New York high school read a selection from Eve Ensler's "Vagina Monologues". They were warned in advance not to utter the terrible word, but they did. The girls say, "We want to make it clear that we didn't do this to be defiant of the school administration. We did it because we believe in the word vagina, and because we believe it's not a bad word. It shouldn't be a word that is ever censored, and the way in which we used it was respectable."

School officials insist the girls were not suspended for what they said, but for insubordination: they were told not to do something, and they did it anyway.

But why were they told not to? Because, according to the New York Times, "young children could be in the audience"!

Young children? How young do you have to be to not know what a vagina is? Not what it looks like, or even what it does, and forget about the lengths people will go to be near one. Just what it is. If you're old enough to be in school, you should know what a vagina is. And if you're so young that you don't know what a vagina is, you won't understand anything that's being said, so it really doesn't matter.

When it comes to things biological or sexual, I didn't grow up in a very progressive household. But I knew the correct names for the body parts that I have, and the ones that I don't have. I knew the words vagina and penis. The other words for those parts I found out on my own, like everyone else. Are there really parents out there who don't want kids to know the correct name for parts of their anatomy? Don't answer that, my head will explode.

The three girls have gotten tons of support, including a phone call from Eve Ensler. Fun!

If you don't know some of the the background to this story, you can read about it at Chez Crabbi. Not long ago, I blogged about people going nuts over the word "scrotum" in a children's book - also used in a completely non-sexual context.

This stuff just baffles me. I mean absolutely baffles.

Hey, is it just me, or do you think the New York Times headline writer was having a little fun with this headline: 'Monologues' Spurs Dialogue on Taste and Speech?

24 comments:

M@ said...

Well! I never! You know young children could be reading this blog!

I know they can't say anything, but I'll bet there are plenty of staff at that school who also support these girls. The school and principal have been made to look stupid, and the girls have learned some valuable lessons about subverting authority. I think this outcome is about as good as it can be.

Now, as for that awful word... remind me. Is that the hoo-ha or the cha-cha? You really should use one of those terms for it. It's more respectful, you know, of women.

L-girl said...

Now, as for that awful word... remind me. Is that the hoo-ha or the cha-cha?

LOL. Thanks for that laugh. :)

You're right, it was a perfect outcome. I hadn't thought of it that way. Because it's all so stupid!! But you're right.

James said...

Time was you were only allowed to use the Latin-derived word for certain body parts or activities, rather than the Anglo-Saxon, because that was "polite" (Remember George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can't Say On TV"?). But now, at least in the US, even the Latinate words are out, and you have to go with babytalk isntead: hoohah, poop, piddle, etc.

Another step in the infantification of US culture.

"My child might see this an ask me what a vagina is!" Yeah, well, she might ask you what a "hoohah" is too. C'mon, unless it was a cesarean birth, it's not like your kid hasn't been through one before.

L-girl said...

(Remember George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can't Say On TV"?).

One of my favourite bits. "Tits doesn't even belong on the list. It's such a friendly sounding word! Hey Tits, come'ere. Tits, meet Toots, Toots, Tits..."

Woti-woti said...

Vagina? I'll bet those kids know what 'quiffing' is. Unlike me, who had to wait till the end of 'Sarah Silverman' to find out.

L-girl said...

Unlike me, who had to wait till the end of 'Sarah Silverman' to find out.

I doubt you were alone in that. There must have been a mass run to Google after the show.

(I was not among them, but I'm still sure Woti wasn't alone.)

L-girl said...

But by the way, it was "queaf", not "quiff". They are both slang terms, but they have very different meanings. (No link, you can all find it yourselves.)

L-girl said...

Oh ok, one link, to my favourite non-standard dictionary.

Woti-woti said...

Ah, quEAfing! Thanks for the dictionary link. 'FBI' now has another dimension.

sister.susie said...

After seeing and enjoying "The Vagina Monologues" a number of years ago, I left thinking that the show might have been more accurately named "The Vulva Monologues". I don't think of those terms as interchangeble, but perhaps they are used that way nowadays.

*Applause* to the high school girls for taking a stand.

I went to a Catholic school and it never occured to me to challenge anything. I sure would have found catechism class a lot more interesting if I had questioned confusing ideas instead of swallowing them whole as a kid.

I believe a good education system encourages students to challenge what's being taught. Insubordination? Perhaps - but those girls made a difficult decision and I say, "Well done!"

L-girl said...

I believe a good education system encourages students to challenge what's being taught.

Does such a system exist? I don't think so. Individual teachers may do that - many good ones do. But educational systems exist IMO largely to ensure comformity, and to squash creativity and critical thinking.

(Political compass, anyone? :) )

Jen said...

"But educational systems exist IMO largely to ensure comformity, and to squash creativity and critical thinking"

Too true. Sadly spreading/ continuing to spread to the university and academia. I'm living the "evidence based medicine/ evidence based nursing practice" nightmare right now. Think faceless drones in health science all goosestepping to the rhythm of "RCT-EBP-RCT-EBP". Like random controlled trials are the only way of knowing anything.

L-girl said...

and to squash creativity and critical thinking

I think I meant squelch. Although squash is a good image, like squashing a bug.

sister.susie said...

I hear ya. One of my kids is taking a year away from university because he said that he's doing really well at school, yet doesn't feel he's learning very much.

He's in Southeast Asia for a couple of months basking in the culture - the people, the languages, the food, the beaches, and the nice warm temps. He's getting quite the education there. Travelling the way he does requires creativity and critical thinking.

L-girl said...

Most of my nephews and nieces have done the same. There's nothing like travel for learning (at any age).

David Cho said...

I have a heart attack when I see "Virginia."

Either I'm dyslexic or have a very depraved mind.

sister.susie said...

I recall doing a double-take the first time I heard Regina (Saskatchewan) pronounced. I couldn't help but think about the limerick possibilities...

L-girl said...

I recall doing a double-take the first time I heard Regina (Saskatchewan) pronounced. I couldn't help but think about the limerick possibilities...

That must be universal among people who don't grow up in Canada. :)

M@ said...

That must be universal among people who don't grow up in Canada. :)

People who didn't grow up in Canada? Um, I was twelve once, you know. It might have lasted three or four years, even.

Or more.

Regina. Heh.

L-girl said...

People who didn't grow up in Canada?

:-)

I was being generous - or optimistic - or foolish. Who could possibly resist.

Jere said...

Speaking of Silverman, there's one episode where they don't say the word "vagina," but they cut it in a way that makes it much funnier than if they had.

MSS said...

"...the lengths people will go to be near one."

Er, I'd be tempted to say that was "ironic," but I read your "rant" on that already. And a fine rant it was.

Oh, and I had to look up "quiffing" and "queaf." Thank God for Google. And Sarah Silverman.

Crabbi said...

I didn't know what "queaf" menat until I was in my thirties. My daughter, then in junior high, explained it. I recently learned, too, that there is more than one way to toss a salad, thanks to a friend with teen-aged daughters. Kids say the darndest things, thank goodness.

Thanks for the link, L!

L-girl said...

I recently learned, too, that there is more than one way to toss a salad,

For the uninformed.

Thanks Crabbi! :)