The Stork Had Nothing To Do With It!

This book first caught my attention because a mother in Washington state filed a complaint with her daughter’s school district when her daughter brought the book home.

whats the big secret

This book is aimed toward curious 8-12 year olds.

“It’s too graphic.” She claimed, not appropriate for a ten-year old. This book had been available in school libraries for 10 years, without a single complaint from parents, educators, children or community members.

As the story got more traction the book started haunting me, what was in it? Was it really inappropriate? I doubted it. I know how conservative schools have gotten in recent years when it comes to sex. I had to take a look.

My copy arrived in the mail a couple of days ago. I’ve read the book several times now, including twice to my daughters – ages 5 and 7. It has sparked some great conversations, answered some lingering questions for my children and encouraged them to be open and honest about their bodies, how they feel and what they think about them.

It seems like a solid win to me.

I was ready to blow the whole thing off as one over-reactive parent who doesn’t understand that kids want to know what’s wrong with their bodies, and why they should be so ashamed of them all the time. (The answer, nothing is wrong, adults are just weird.)

But then… I read this in The Week:

Only in America – A 6-year-old Wisconsin boy has been accused of first-degree sexual assault for “playing doctor” with a 5-year-old girl. The boy is too young to face criminal charges, but prosecutors have presented the allegations to a judge and asked for state intervention. “This isn’t about punishing him,” said District attorney Lisa Riniker. “It’s about making sure he gets the help he needs.”

OK – first off, maybe it’s the PARENTS who need to be reading this book, not the kids. Curiosity is NATURAL at that age. No one wants to talk to kids about where babies come from, or how they get in there in the first place, or why boys have penises and girls have vaginas (and no – those are NOT four letter words), or why those parts are “private”. (Really, we have to start this at that age?? I mean I understand the pedophile fear – and covering up at the mall or restaurants, or school, but at that age kids should still be running around naked in the backyard, playing in sprinklers, peeing on the grass…)

We have set it up so that more than ever kids have to learn about sex for themselves. They know that grownups don’t want to talk to them about it, but they can’t figure out why. At that age, aside from the fact that pee comes from that area, it’s not really any different from their elbow, or their belly, or their knee. At the age of 5 and 6 penises and vaginas are NOT sexual organs yet. Yes, they are sexual identifiers, but they’re not functional sexual body parts. So kids don’t understand what’s wrong with them, or why they should hide them, or be ashamed. Thus the reason fart and pee jokes are so funny and prevalent – kids are trying to figure out what it is about that one small part of their bodies that makes adults so uncomfortable.

I’m going to go WAY out on a limb here and just assume that everyone reading this played doctor at least once as a child. The more adventurous of us may have played doctor more than once, perhaps with different genders, or multiple friends to see if they looked different from us, and each other. It wasn’t sexual, it was natural childhood curiosity.

Now think, if we had all been prosecuted for that – all been told we needed “help” because we were curious about our bodies, and the way they were different or the same as our friend’s bodies… We’d all be even more warped and repressed than we already are. We would have grown up thinking, believing, that our bodies were sick, wrong, harmful, twisted. And then what happens when, as adults, it’s “time” to become sexual (purely for procreation, of course)? We still have all this warped wrongness going through us, we still think those body parts are “dirty”, “wrong”, “bad”. But, they’re actually entirely critical to the survival of our species. Not to mention the survival of our marriages, relationships, and mental health.

The only help this 6-year-old Wisconsin boy needs is a sane judge, a rational community, and the adults around him to remember what it was like to be a kid; curious about the world and determined to find answers – especially to the questions that were too tough for parents to answer. What he needs is for every adult in his state to be forced to sit down and read What’s the Big Secret?, and then give him a copy.

NOTE: I wanted to put in some better pictures and text from the book itself, but I ran out of time this morning, here’s a link to a blogger who did it for me!

4 Comments

Filed under Books, Kids, Of Course I'm a Feminist

4 responses to “The Stork Had Nothing To Do With It!

  1. “We would have grown up thinking, believing, that our bodies were sick, wrong, harmful, twisted. And then what happens when, as adults, it’s “time” to become sexual (purely for procreation, of course)? We still have all this warped wrongness going through us, we still think those body parts are “dirty”, “wrong”, “bad”. But, they’re actually entirely critical to the survival of our species. Not to mention the survival of our marriages, relationships, and mental health.”

    I think you’ve come very close to hitting the nail on the head right here. So many people in this country are so terribly repressed about sex. A quick anecdote for you, back when the Paul Verhoeven film, “Starship Troopers” came out, I went to see it, as I’m a huge fan of the novel. Sadly the film was wildly different than Heinlein’s work, but so it goes. There was a mother who had brought her young son (I’m guessing about 8 years old) to the movie. Anyone who has seen the movie can attest that it is very violent, with alien bugs shredding humans limb from limb. About halfway through the movie, there is a co-ed shower scene. It is not a sexual scene. Simply male and female soldiers showering together, and you see some female breasts in the shot. That’s when concerned mother decided to grab 8-year old Johnny and storm out in a huff. Not because Johnny had just witnessed scenes of horrible carnage (which if he’s lucky he’ll never have to experience in real life) but because he saw a pair of breasts (which, though he may not remember, he’s seen before…and if he’s a hetero male he’ll hopefully see again). Ditto the whole wardrobe malfunction thing on the superbowl.

    Somehow violence is more acceptable than sex in our society.

    Without sounding like a conspiracy nut, I think it is about control. Sex (between consenting adults) is a fundamental human right. But if the powers that be…government, religion, communal society can control it, they can control us. And they do try to control it, down to actually dictating what sexual positions are ‘acceptable.’ It’s madness, and our indoctrinated guilt and shame, instilled at a young age, is their most powerful tool.

  2. takingontheschoolboard

    Well, I’m not sure the whole “school” is likely conservative since a majority of schools are full of liberals, but that not withstanding I do think this is a ridiuclous thing to do to a child. He will be forever traumatized by this, if indeed he was truly only “playing doctor.”

    I had the school call me one day in a panic about my 3rd grade daughter or maybe she was in 2nd at the time and I was starting to get stressed so I finally said, “just spit it out.”

    The woman, who was clearly stressed out told me finally that my daugther had seen “so and so’s” underwear on the playground and she is sooooooo sorry. I was like “are you kidding me right now?”

    Alas, she was not. I was like “This is a non-issue of a young boy who got new undies and wanted to show them off. Please pull your head outta your ass and consider that you are making a HUGE deal out of nothing.”

    I didn’t really say ass, but it was sternly implied!

  3. Pingback: Bad Rules Are Made to Be Broken | ThinkBannedThoughts Blog

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