Monday, January 25, 2010

Cowboy Winner, Stupid People, and Homework Reading

Let's start this off by taking care of some unfinished business, shall we? Random.org has spoken and the lucky winner of the Take A Cowboy home T-shirt from the recent Linda Lael Miller/Harlequin promotion hosted here at the Bat Cave is....

Rebecca from Dirty Sexy Books!

Rebecca, drop me an e-mail (you can find it here) with your mailing address and I'll pass it along to the good peeps at Harlequin. They'll be the ones mailing you your prize.

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In the Please Stop Making My Brain Bleed department - a school district here in sunny So. Cal. has pulled the 10th edition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary from classrooms after a parent complained that a student apparently "stumbled" across the definition for oral sex.

Yeah, sure....stumbled across it.

Apparently this filthy dictionary had been purchased a few years earlier for the 4th and 5th grade classrooms. Now, in the sake of full disclosure - I'm not a parent. So feel free to disregard my opinion if you feel me having a Gone Fishin' sign on my ovaries renders me ignorant. But here it goes:

1) Looking up "dirty" words in the dictionary is a time-honored tradition among our youth. I went to school with several boys who considered this an extracurricular activity. Some of them turned out to be productive members of society. The others? Trust me, they all had bigger issues than looking up "dirty" words in the dictionary.

2) According to Merriam-Webster online, the definition of oral sex is
oral stimulation of the genitals : cunnilingus, fellatio
Which will likely have kids flipping through the dictionary to find out what "oral," "stimulation," "genitals," "cunnilingus," and "fellatio" mean. Heh. Also, I defy anyone to find me an unsexier definition of oral sex. I say it's not possible.

3) The bigger story here is that there was a kid out there that a) knew how to use a dictionary and b) even knew what a dictionary was. Frankly that's the part of this story that I find the most shocking.

4) Some kids are blissfully naive (my reaction at that age would have been "ewwww, gross!") and some are not. Parents, your kids could fall into the "not" category - especially if some of the stories I've heard over the years about pregnant 6th graders, BJ contests and what teenagers think are viable birth control options are true. ::shudder::

Now, I don't know for sure - but I don't think we can blame these ills on the dictionary. Just going out on a limb with that one. Parents - you have bigger fish to fry than good ol' Noah Webster. Says me. For a change of pace, let's try directing all that parental concern down more useful, and needed, avenues. Shall we? If you're at a loss, a helpful To Do List will be provided upon request.

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My library's 4th annual literary event is coming up in April, which means I need to buckle down and get my "homework reading" done for the romance genre panel. In the coming weeks I'll be posting reviews for books by Tessa Dare, HelenKay Dimon and Linda Wisdom. Historical, sexy contemporary and Funny Ha Ha paranormals. Whether or not I'll "like" all of these books is completely incidental when I'm preparing for a presentation of this type. It's more about familiarizing myself with the author's work. It also makes it pretty darn easy to run a decent panel discussion when the moderator knows what the hell she's talking about. Plus I think the audience appreciates it.

23 comments:

Lori said...

Oh noes! I'm an enabler. We have the M-W dictionary at home, and I'm always telling my kids to go look things up.

Off to go berate myself now.

Karen J. said...

No kidding but my HS principal had me pull all the dictionaries from the shelves my first year working there. Since as a young, first-year librarian I had no recourse but to follow his directions, I did it...but pulled one out of my back room every time a student asked for one until they were all back on the shelf (where they belonged!). He's never mentioned it again. By my figuring, if the kids don't know what those words mean, they ought to look them up. You'd be surprised at how many are really clueless about the four-letter words they use so frequently in conversation.

Keira Soleore said...

Silly and misguided. Hiding your head in the sand is not going to make the problem go away. The real issue is why was the kid looking up (stumbled across it, yeah right, and I'm the Queen E II) for that in the first place.

Liza said...

I just assumed all kids looked up dirty words in the dictionary.

JamiSings said...

I'm not a parent either, but I remember learning in my human sexuality class that kids who know about sex and the proper name for the organs by the time they were 3 where -

1: Less likely to be sexually assaulted.

2: More likely to report it if it did happen.

3: Less likely to have sex as teenagers.

4: More likely to use protection when they do become sexually active.

So with all that, why do parents want to pull a dictionary? Sex ed should be REQUIRED no matter the parents' objections.

Wendy said...

Lori: You are a bad Mommy! Go sit in the corner, you're now in time out! LOL

Karen: On one hand I think adults give kids too little credit, and on the other? Too much.

Keira: Yeah, that was my reaction! Sure, they "stumbled" across it - LOL.

Liza: I know! I mean, don't most kids do that?

Jami: I'm of two minds on this issue. Part of me thinks that it's not the job of a teacher/school to do what good parents should. Then the other part of me realizes that sadly, not every kid in this country has "good" parents. Sigh.

But yanking a dictionary out of a classroom really doesn't solve anything IMHO. It's just...misguided and sad.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hi. Parent of a fourth grader here.

I'd be shocked if my kid didn't know what the words "oral" or "stimulation" mean. (although used together is another story) And if he's not being shown worse on the Internet by his friends.

Bring it on. It's part of being a kid -- especially since schools no longer use paste, depriving generations of making fun of the weird kid who ate the paste.

Jill Sorenson said...

Oh GOD. I really don't understand why some parents seem to think education/knowledge=encouragement, permission, satan, whatever. Ridiculous.

JamiSings,

I am a parent and I agree with you. Thanks for the info.

Rebecca @ DSB said...

Yippie-cay-yay! Thanks so much to Wendy, and the folks at Harlequin. I am soooo going to wear that t-shirt. Once upon a time I used to wear a small, but better make it a medium.

That makes me think of that line from Steel Magnolias, where Dolly Parton is asked her shoe size and she says, "In a good shoe, I wear a size six, but a seven feels so good, I buy a size eight."

I'm with you... it is a time-honored tradition for kids to look up dirty words in the dictionary. Why do parents have to be so uptight? If I caught my kids doing that I would laugh my a** off.

Leslie said...

My fourth grade teacher, Mr. Garland, would hand out dictionaries to each of us and we would play "stump the teacher". Trying to find words that he didn't know the definitions of. No one ever asked about "oral sex", maybe it didn't exist when I was a kid, *grins* but we learned a lot by reading the dictionary.

My kids are in 3rd, 4th and 10th grade and I'm always telling them to go look stuff up. In fact I can see our dictionary from here. :)

joykenn said...

This is so ridiculous I'm grinning right now. Just the dictionary definition (very tame, very non-descriptive) is enough to get it yanked? What universe is the creature from? Oral sex is evil?? If they don't know that such disgusting things are possible they won't try it? (Yeah and kids never ever experiment with things) I mean let's take a look at this woman's husband cause she's missing out on a LOT.

By the way, I cringed when I saw your illustration. Wendy, do you have any idea how many splinters are on a rail fence? That's not sexy unless you're into PAIN.

Wendy said...

Susan: No paste? Next thing you'll tell me is they've taken away the blunt safety scissors that couldn't cut through butter.

Jill: LOL - satan! The dictionary is the garden path to EVIL! Who knew?

Rebecca: Just fired off an email to Harlequin with your address :)

Leslie: Brave teacher! Or maybe you just went to school with a bunch of well-behaved kids ;) And LOL - I'm pretty sure oral sex existed when you were a kid. That's my hunch anyway.

Joy: Well they had to yank the dictionary to check for other dirty words dontcha know. Because if oral sex is in there - gasp who knows what other filthy words are defined!

And don't worry about my cowgirl. You can't tell from the picture, but she's a very sweet, demure and pure cowgirl - who is wearing a steel-plated chastity belt underneath that short skirt ;) No splinters for that gal.

sula said...

bwahahaha! ok, true story. I was raised in a very conservative religious family (my parents were missionaries, so go figure). The dictionary and encyclopedia were fascinating sources of knowledge where I figured out what s-e-x was. When my mom decided it was time to have the birds and bees talk, I told her not to bother...I already had all the info. She was shocked, SHOCKED! lol. I was like, geeez, mom, I can READ and there are such things as reference books. pfft. Kids are curious and want to know stuff. Making sex into some sort of taboo hidden thing just makes it more interesting, imo.

nath said...

LOL, this is simply hilarious. Seriously?!? I think that people are oversensitive really. You want to shield your kids? Fine, make them stop watching tv, movies and surfing the internet.

and yes, Wendy, I agree with you. No way they can come up with a definition less sexy than that.

A Library Girl said...

And this is part of the reason why I laugh at the idea of an "objectionable" book. Sure, there are plenty of books that you can guess will probably be considered objectionable, although that doesn't mean anyone will ever realize they're there and object to them - out of curiosity, I checked to see if there were any public libraries that had books by Yaoi Press, and was surprised to see that there are (although I suppose it's possible that they're in a special area and that's why no one's objected yet). Then there's this example of the dictionary getting objected to. As far as I'm concerned, there isn't a single book that couldn't possibly be objected to. That's why libraries allow challenges but don't (or shouldn't) immediately yank a book someone objects to. Since this classroom apparently doesn't have a similar process (or the principal or teacher just folded), maybe they shouldn't keep any books around at all.

I'm willing to bet that the kid looked up the word, was caught while doing it, and, in order to avoid getting in trouble, lied and said he just stumbled across it. Because of course he's a little angel who could not possibly be looking up "bad words" on his own, his parents assumed he was telling the truth.

Anonymous said...

Want to talk about shuddering at someone's LACK of sex education knowledge. I read on a message board (it was literature related believe it or not) a question from an adult MALE (allegedly) who wanted to know how a man who had a vasectomy could still come/produce semen !????! :::::THUD:::

SonomaLass said...

Ah yes, a time-honored tradition! When I was a young lass, we looked up words a lot worse than that.

Years later, I was almost fired from my first teaching job because a 15-year-old student was reading a play for a project in my drama class that contained the word "orgasm." His mother did NOT want her son learning that word! One thing I don't have to deal with teaching college.

Library Blog said...

Wendy, we had such a good laugh about the Dictionary being pulled!! As a fellow Librarian we just scratched our heads...

Lil Sis said...

At work we talked about this - mostly joking and being COMPLETELY immature. My two cents?

1. The definition doesn't help them - they then have to look up more words. I'm thinking the kids will give up by the second or third word. Of course looking up naughty words can REALLY teach them to use their dictionary! :)

2. I think the parent should be a bit more worried about an elementary student knowing the term "oral sex." Where did they hear that? Not from the dictionary and school sex ed programs don't start until around 5th - 6th grade and even then it's scarily limited on information.

3. As a teacher who just had TWO students give birth (one with her first child, and one with her SECOND), and ANOTHER student newly pregnant I say parents clearly aren't teaching at home and it's sad to say that the schools need to do more.

Wendy said...

Sula: Bwahahahahahahahaha! I'm dying over here. I don't even know your mother and I can just imagine the look on her face when you dropped that little bombshell!

Nath: That was my thought. I'd be WAY more concerned with what they're watching on TV or in movies than reading the world's unsexiest definition of oral sex.

A Library Girl: Let me tell you how glad I am that I'm not the children's book buyer. Seriously. Certainly people object to adult fiction/non-fiction - but nowhere near on the same level.

Anon: Or that "pulling out" is an effective and reliable method of birth control ::headdesk::

SonomaLass: Sure hope that kid did learn about orgasms, for his sake and his partner's - LOL

Library Blog: I know, the dictionary?! Srsly?!

Wendy said...

Lil' Sis: My Man was like me and was impressed the kid even knew what a dictionary was. And here we thought every kid just immediately hopped on the Internet these days. Guess not.

Another pregnant student?! Cripes!

JamiSings said...

So I told this story to my uber conservative mom and even she got mad at the parents! She thought it was ridiculous that they'd pull a dictionary over this sort of thing.

Sorry if this is TMI, but to give an illustration about how bad my mom is when it comes to sex, one of the things she tried to drill into me as a kid "Only men and whores enjoy sex. Good girls never have orgasms."

So the fact that the woman - who still believes that, BTW - thought it was moronic to pull a dictionary because it had the definition for oral sex is a big deal. LOL

Tracy said...

I must be a bad mommy as well since I encourage my kids to look in the friggin dictionary. My 12 year old is determined to just type the word in the computer and have the def come up and I put my foot down.

If my kids are truly that curious about those words and they have the brains to know how to look it up in the M-W, I say go for it. :) I'm evil and obviously going straight to hell! lol