Censored: Penis Is a Bad Word
When did penis become a word that needs to be censored?. It is highly likely that in a majority of sexual battery and molestation cases, you will see that a penis played a significant role. You will never hear in an indictment or a charging document that the victim was sexually battered by a ding-dong, dingaling, wiener, pee-pee ,or thing.
It is hard to believe that we still bury our heads in the sand when it comes to discussing private parts and their real names. “Struggling to find the right words” should not be part of the equation when talking to kids about this delicate subject matter. In today’s society if you fail to have “the talk” with your kids, you are doing them a tremendous disservice in preparing them for what might be out there. Those of us who are in the business are fully aware that sex crimes know no boundaries. It does not discriminate between black and white, rich or poor, fat or thin or any religion. Anyone can be a perpetrator, and anyone can be a victim, nobody is immune.
Victims would come into my office for years and tell me they did not know the names of their private parts or what to do if someone ever touched them. I would lecture all over and parents would always ask me “how do I talk to my kids about this topic, what am I supposed to say”? At this point I decided to write two books, My Privates are Private and Genius with a Penis, Don’t Touch. I wanted parents and kids to have the proper tools to help them when discussing this difficult and sometimes uncomfortable subject matter. No publisher would touch them, as they told me “this will never sell, its a taboo topic.” Really, do you have any idea how many sex crimes are out there? I believed in the message of the books and decided to publish them myself and promote on my own. I guess the Sandusky case proved my theory right, as everyone was of course up in arms, asking “why didn’t the boys tell?” I knew it back then when I wrote them that I would be met with much resistance. Quite frankly, I did not care. I thought by now things would change.
I am often asked to appear on television to comment on high profile sex cases and asked “what can we do to teach kids how to protect themselves? What can we do to educate kids” That’s the operative word, educate. It means not to be fearful of saying the words penis and vagina. It means not being afraid to hear about it on television or read about it in books or magazines. It means to take the bull by the horns and let children know that a penis is not an obscene word.
That’s what brings me to this post, the censoring of a word that is part of our anatomy. A word which obviously makes so many people uncomfortable that it needs to be removed from an article which specifically talks about sex crimes. That’s right, Genius with a Penis, was taken out of an article that I was asked to write about dealing with sexual batteries and molestations. The article addressed how to talk to your kids, warning signs of abuse, and other issues specific to sexual battery cases. I included in the article the tools that would help parents get over their fear in discussing this subject. They left in “My Privates are Private” but took out “Genius with a Penis, Don’t Touch.” What makes this all the more relevant is that the periodical is geared towards victims. When asked why they removed the little boy version of the books, the response was “its just better this way”. What kind of message does this send? Should we now tell victims of these crimes not to say the word penis if they are violated? Do we now eliminate the “real word” for penis with a fake one? Do we remain at risk of being a victim of a sex crime because we are uncomfortable with the title of the book?
I am fully aware that some parents feel more comfortable naming private parts something else. This could bring on more problems because if you are the only ones that know what those words mean another adult might not get help for your child if they are clueless as to what they are talking about. A smarter suggestion would be to call them privates and explain to your child that privates mean vagina and penis.
We live in an environment today where sex is rampant. We have shows on television about teenage pregnancy. I can assure you a penis was involved there. We practically had a nation salivating over 50 Shades of Grey and “mommy porn”, yet we cannot have an intelligent discussion about sex crimes and mention the word penis? Everyone talks big about education, yet it doesn’t get done. Why is this? Its because we are scared. We would rather think that this might happen to other kids. We would rather believe that we will never end up in the court system. We would rather think that we live in nice neighborhoods and go to nice schools. Anyone who watches the news on any given night will see that it’s not true. It happens at school, it happens at home, it happens anywhere.
Do you honestly think that a two year old who learns the words penis and vagina would be embarrassed by it ? If you teach them early enough it’s as second nature as knees and elbows. It’s the parents that have difficulty with it, they are the ones that might laugh or snicker or shy away from it. When did we become such a puritanical society that we can’t discuss human anatomy?
I can assure you of one thing, and that is that sex crimes will never disappear. Pedophilia will exist forever, so why not arm yourself with the best ammunition you have, knowledge. Knowledge is power, but is the act of censoring important words because we find them to be uncomfortable, powerful? I will continue to fight for the power of the word. Here is the most important thing — participate in protecting your kids. I can guarantee you that a discussion right now, however uncomfortable you might feel, is better than spending time in the State Attorney’s Office later. What good is education if it’s not the truth? Don’ be afraid to be honest, embrace it.
Will Sandusky ‘s Case Fall on Deaf Ears?
We don’t need to go into more detail as to the events with the Jerry Sandusky case, as the nation was watching when he was arrested, tried and convicted and then ultimately sentenced for his actions. The world was up in arms when they heard that a well known coach was secretly touching and having sex with boys with whom he had supposedly “mentored” and helped along the way. People were repulsed, yet fascinated by the victims accounts and we were horrified that a person who witnessed these events did not either run in the shower and beat the crap out of him, or run directly to the police to report it.
There were weeks on end when we had talking heads (including myself) discuss pedophiles, victims, sexual acts, disclosures, charities, single moms, and troubled youth. The media never wanted us to hear the “real details” because the language was going to be graphic, and not suitable for television. This is what I find so deplorable, if you can’t discuss it while its actually going on, when is the time? Graphic? no kidding. That’s what sex crimes are, graphic, dirty, secretive, and discreet. They are not sexy, romantic, and out in the open.
This case was textbook pedophilia. Gifts, games, secrets, horseplay, and kids looking for a father figure. Instead of running away and burying our heads in the sand, we should be discussing what is to be learned from this case. Its almost hard to believe that educators, parents, and the media via television, and print would not be jumping on the bandwagon to promote education about sexual abuse and sex crimes. It’s disheartening to know that people will encourage prosecutions of these vicious predators, yet are unwilling to start at square one, which is teaching kids about certain behaviors, and what to do if they ever found themselves in a situation like this.
This begs the question that I asked so frequently, “why are we so afraid to talk”? Why is it that we can have a mob mentality when it comes to putting this person away, and yet we fail to see that education, and knowledge could be power against someone like this?
Why don’t parents realize that teaching can be saving? We educate our kids in school and and at various outside school activities.. We teach them how to speak foreign languages, how to spell, how to do math, how to dissect frogs and how to log on to the latest technology. Why has it become so difficult to teach kids about certain behaviors and their private parts? The reason is simple, its too uncomfortable, too delicate, too difficult. What a shame that is on today’s society. We have decided that rather than talk about something that is hard, we will choose to ignore it. We would much rather watch these other victims have to disclose what happened to them and go to court rather than have a discussion with our child about safety.
We have become an “after the fact” society. I have come to find out that we like to figure out what to do after something has gone wrong, as in this case when people were shouting afterwards “we need to teach our children.” The responsibility of teaching kids is shared by all. Its parents, teachers, grandparents, basically anyone that could have an influence on your kids. Why isn’t the takeaway from this case that sexual abuse needs to be at the forefront of education. We are always trying to evolve with society. We always need to “keep up.”
Unfortunately, this is something that we need to “keep up” with. We can’t turn our backs and say that pedophilia is not an “epidemic.” The fact is it is, and if you are in denial, then you are only hurting your own kids. I am not saying that we have to be bombarded with it, but certainly sex crimes have become part of our vernacular and we have to find a way to deal with it. Don’t let the “fear” take over, encourage your schools to make “protection of your privates” part of the curriculum. I know that people will say “there’s no money for it” well maybe it’s time to make it a priority.
There are ways to incorporate this without spending a fortune, its called “talking and reading.” Maybe it’s time for all the “mommy bloggers”, and “parenting websites” to not only talk about where the “best places are to have a party’ but to include educational material about subjects like this. It may not be “stylish” but its a necessity. It may be uncomfortable, but its a reality.
We need to put our money where are mouth is, to stop talking like we are so bothered by pedophilia and do something that will decrease the record number of cases that we have in today’s society. Hopefully the disgrace of Sandusky will open the lines of communication about a tough subject. Don’t let it just be a memory, use it as a teaching tool.