Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hoohoos and Peepees

When my son was born, I already knew, from parenting books, magazines, classes, and television shows, that I should use proper names of body parts around my son. That meant all his body parts. In the early days I used cutsie terms for his "boy parts", gleefully using these silly nicknames as much as I could because they sounded cute and because it would be wrong for me to use them later on when the boy was old enough to understand. Calling these parts by nicknames would make them seem more silly and less important and if, God forbid, someone would inappropriately touch these parts, he would know how to explain it and the judge would not have to try to discern what was meant by "he touched my wonka wonka". It also helps prevent any shame in talking about these body parts (although I could use a little more discretion from the boy). So we are very careful to use only the correct names. We gently remind family and friends of this when necessary. My son still makes up names for them but we correct him as well. I think we are doing the right thing. After all, no one calls his arm a "dangly" or his nose his "little sniffer". This all makes perfect sense to me.

Until I see that the world does not agree. Yes, child-care experts agree, but others don't. True, others think that George Bush was worth re-electing and that homosexuality can be cured but, still, I wrongly expect more from adults. People are censoring the use of the proper names of body parts. The Vagina Monologues has been renamed The Hoohaa Monologues. Can you imagine seeing that on a big billboard? I think I would find that much more offensive, on many levels, than The Vagina Monologues.

And even more disgusting, The Higher Power of Lucky, awarded this year's Newberry Medal for excellence in children's books, has been banned in many secondary schools and public libraries because of one word in the book. This disgusting word, terrible enough to have the book removed from school and library shelves is *gasp* "scrotum".Yes, that very part of my son I try to teach him the name of, try to tell him is important enough to be given the right name, is cause to ban a book.

Now, I've discussed censorship here before. I disagree with it. To quote a line wrongly attributed to Voltaire, "I may disagree with what you have to say but I will defend to the death your right to say it". So, when any book is censored, let alone a book so good that a jury gave it a very prestigious award, because of one word, that angers me. It also confuses me. What word should have been used? There are plenty of nicknames one can use to describe that body part. I could list a bunch and then make make up a bunch more and you'd get it. But why use them when there is a perfectly good word for it? Maybe the author could have chosen a different body part, but I didn't read the book and I sure didn't write it. If that author chose "scrotum", I cannot say she was wrong. I guess the Newberry people didn't think so either.

So, don't forget to teach your children the right names for all body parts but if you're performing an Obie Award-winning play, or if you are writing a book for children over 9 years old, make sure you make up nice names for those parts. No need to expose people to those nasty old words. Use hoohoo or peepee and make squeamish people, afraid to discuss the body, happy in their ignorance. In the meantime, if you forget what the real names are: you can ask my kid.


At 1:25 PM, Blogger TrudyJ said...


We also teach the correct names, which resulted in my daughter telling her grandmother when she picked her up from Grade One: "I kicked a boy in the penis today!"

I always associate the word "Hoohoo" with Dr. House, originator of such great lines as "Go stick a needle up her hoohoo and find that cancer," and the best-ever euphemism for female masturbation: "saying yoo-hoo to the hoo-hoo."

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Robert said...

Some people go out of their way to find offense, I swear.

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