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BethSLP 11-02-2008 01:53 AM

WHY oh WHY are people so dang uptight about birth and the female anatomy?

Last week I was looking up "big sister" books on amazon for DD. A book called "I'm a Big Sister" by Brenda Bercun has two or three reviews calling the book "graphic."

I just got it from the library and there is literally ONE page where the little girl wonders how the baby will get here. The page has a picture of a mother's belly (kind of in profile) with a baby in the uterus. There is a very vague line (not even two lines like a tunnel but ONE line) that is supposed to be the "birth canal." Because the legs are kind of crossed over one another, the "birth canal" goes off into ambiguity. There's really no detail at all.

The text says that a baby grows in Mommy's uterus. When it gets too big for the uterus it comes out the birth canal. That's basically ALL it says.

The reviews talk about how they would tear the page out and say things like "I don't want my 3 yr old thinking about my birth canal" and how the book is so graphic "It talks about a uterus!"

I am so beyond digusted about how shameful parents act about anatomy (female in particular).

I'm also embarrassed to admit that I recently discovered my very verbal 2.5 yr old had no words for her parts. She called her yoni a "butt." I blame myself for accidentally participating in this prudish uptight culture. I've since taught her the word "yoni" (at my best friend's advice, since vagina is not really correct since its just the canal, not the whole structure).

What in the world are we teaching our kids by being so secretive about such a beautiful thing??

Argh, off my soapbox.

LookMommy! 11-02-2008 01:49 AM

May I suggest that in addition to teaching her the term yoni (not an English word, nor generally recognized in the US, and a rather euphemistic word as opposed to a scientific one) you teach her vagina (most commonly used if not entirely accurate) and vulva (if you are looking for accuracy). Lisa

Sioko 11-02-2008 03:26 AM

We call it a "ta-ta" and the boy's a "hoo-ha" and I regret it. It was easy to teach her those words for those parts when she was a baby cause she could say them, now she's older and the baby words are stuck.

My SIL and brother did much better calling it a "girl-part" and the boy's a "boy-part". So much all-inclusive for the whole of each anatomy! With baby on the way and the questions on "how" often coming up, the specifics of the parts and their technical names are being given now on an asked-for basis.

I'm appalled that uterus is being treated as a bad word! And birth-canal too. grrrr.

Quindin 11-02-2008 08:22 AM

My then 5yo DD was talking excitedly at church about the baby I was carrying. Then she said loudly: "And can you believe that the baby will come out of mommy's vagina?"

People just laughed
She had watched some natural birth videos with me and was fascinated.

It is very sad how uptight some people are. It can't be good for their kids...

filiadeluna 11-02-2008 10:30 AM

^ That is too cute, Quindin! Some people would gasp in shock at hearing that.

I think my mom called the whole thing my "crotch", which is correct in a way, but doesn't differentiate between boy and girl. She did teach me vagina at some point, but I can't remember how early, and I always thought it meant the whole thing too. As an older child, I was quite embarrassed/shy about it (though my mom was not), and I called it my "you-know-what", or "down there".

My aunt & uncle with 5 boys referred to the boy parts as "weiners". Funny, but not really accurate.

Baby_Cakes 11-02-2008 12:38 PM

I agree, it's completely frustrating regarding what to call "private parts". Growing up, I think my Mom referred to them as "privates". My brothers had "soft spots" - meaning, don't kick your brother in his soft spot. Tell me how that makes any sense?

I think with my daughter, we'll use "girl bits" until she's old enough to really learn the anatomy. Then she can call those parts whatever she is comfortable with - yoni, hoo-hah, vagina, etc.

PassionateWriter 11-02-2008 01:01 PM

there is some evidence that the inaccurate terms (yoni, etc. etc.) are actually detrimental to children who are sexually abused bc they dont know the exact terms of their sexual organs. Im not sure which book describes this but i want to say its "protecting our children" or something like that (sorry im talking about a book i cant remember the title to).

LilacMama 11-02-2008 01:14 PM

I'm a nurse, so any kids of mine will know the real scoop on anatomy. I'm way past any stage where I can remember the human body being "shameful." Being a woman shouldn't be an embarrassment.

Mom to E and A 11-02-2008 01:22 PM

I wonder what these people would think if they saw my 4 year old lying on the floor pushing her baby out. She has watched "A baby story" with me through her little brother's pregnancy and now this one, so we've talked lots about how babies get out, both vaginally and by C-Section. It is very normal for her to talk about babies being pushed out...

Ruthla 11-02-2008 01:28 PM

I think parents are welcome to their opinions; if a brief but accurate description of pregnancy and female anatomy are beyond their comfort level, they're free to NOT buy this book for their children.

What's the harm in Amazon reviews sharing their viewpoint, to warn others with similar reservations to select a different book?

BethSLP 11-02-2008 04:07 PM

Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
I think parents are welcome to their opinions; if a brief but accurate description of pregnancy and female anatomy are beyond their comfort level, they're free to NOT buy this book for their children.

What's the harm in Amazon reviews sharing their viewpoint, to warn others with similar reservations to select a different book?
I don't disagree with you in theory, but I think its the same thing as people being against nursing in public because it is "graphic." I find it offensive that simple explanations of the female body or the female body being used in a natural way to feed and nurture life could ever be construed as "offensive."

And I find it harmful to our culture as a whole. That children grow up ashamed of their body parts, are told they are secret, are not spoken of, etc. That those same children grow up embarrassed or ashamed to nurse their children because it is "graphic" or somehow sexual to do so.

I think this is a problem of our culture in America in general. I do not find it to be a mother-child friendly culture because of these issues.

I wrote my own review of the book to explain exactly what the picture was, because I thought the reviews were sooo over the top. Many normal, rational people may shy away from buying a beautiful book (which shows nursing as well I might add) because of IMO misinformation. If upon reading my review, someone still thinks its graphic, they can by all means not buy the book with true information. But I still think its a problem that these views are widely held in the U.S. right now.


Jojo F. 11-02-2008 06:47 PM

I agree with Ruth, if the parents aren't comfortable by all means don't buy the book BUT I also agree with Beth, it's a shame that in our culture we as a whole are very ashamed of our bodies.

Personally, I'm not a fan of nick naming our body parts. That just leads to more confusion later.

This also makes me think about how most children learn about sex and their bodies, from school and other school mates. Then they may get the wrong information and learning about their bodies in front of other children is a bit embarrassing. It's embarrassing to learn about your period while sitting next to the boy you have a crush on.

In our house DS knows exactly what his penis, testicales, and urethra are, that's what we call them too. He also knows that I have a vagina that I sometimes bleed from(no privacy once you ahve a child) and that I too have a urethra; we have butts. And since he likes to ask a lot of questions he knows WHY I bleed too. He may be just 5 but I don't see why I shouldn't tell him if he asks.

As for talking about the birth canal, that will come soon enough when the baby gets here.

CarolBe 11-02-2008 07:46 PM

It seems as though I may be the "odd man out" here, but I both agree and disagree with all of this. There are some things that I think my 7 year old should know about birth. He was in the next room for our youngest dd's birth 2 years ago, but at the same time, I think that there are some parts of the female body that he shouldn't be seeing on anything but an anatomy chart until he's married. I am not ashamed of my body and I think that education (like for public bfing) will do alot for people who may shy away from it, but I also think that there are some things that are appropriate for a child to know at certain ages and some things that at some points they are too young to understand or to be taught. With age comes wisdom and enlightenment and as parents we are responsible to God and our children to raise them in a way that sits well with our consciences. I would not let any of my children at any age watch the birth of a human baby (at this point in my life) especially one coming out of me becuase I think that those parts of the human body should be left private for marriage. I know this is old fashioned thinking, but I would no more let my curious 7 yo look at my private parts becuase he's curious about them any day of the week any more than I think he should be looking at them when I'm birthing a baby. That is for my dh and I and a midwife or doctor. I would not at this age let my son look at a book or watch a video showing it either. IMO, he's too young for that. He knows our baby is there becuase Daddy and I love each other and God let the baby grow there becuase of that love, when he's older he can and will learn about sex and how babies get there as far as science is concerned. But our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made and I don't think he needs an eagle eye view of things at his age to know that or appreciate that.
To each his own, but for our family, the only thing he needs to know is that baby is in there, baby comes out and he doesn't need graphics.
My .02,

ColoradoMama 11-02-2008 08:58 PM

Originally Posted by Jojo F. View Post
Personally, I'm not a fan of nick naming our body parts. That just leads to more confusion later.

Jojo F. 11-02-2008 10:44 PM

Just to clarify, I'm not *showing* him my body parts and giving him a lecture on what they are and what they do. On occasion we have taken a shower together and he noticed I don't have a penis and a couple times he burst into the bathroom while I was washing my diva cup. Poor thing, he thought I was hurt when he saw the blood Or I'm changing and he walks in to the room and sees I have breasts. Am I supposed to cover up in shame?

When he asks his questions I don't *show* him what we talk about but I'm surely not going to sugar coat it. If he has questions now I am going to answer them so as to not keep him in the dark until *I* think he's ready/older. Keeping him in the dark and confused isn't going to benefit him.

Oh, another thing. In our society our bodies are purely sexual; breasts are for sex not for breastfeeding!! I think some people are afraid that their children look at them sexually and that's really sad, scary, and goes to show you how damaging our mentality is in our culture.

DeannaK 11-02-2008 11:56 PM

Well I don't use nick names to explain parts to my 2 1/2 year old. We have sheep and when I castrate lambs, I tell him we have to band the testicles. When I need him to aim south to hit the toilet, I say please point your penis down.

He still takes baths with me, but so far it isn't uncomfortable for either one of us. I'd have no problem with a book like that. I think it's better to be frank, use real terms and not shy away from our natural bodies than it is to make it a big taboo thing.

dogmom327 11-03-2008 01:38 AM

It's sad that the female body is seen in such a negative/offensive light. I read the OP and immediately started hoping there's a "big brother" version of that book...I need one of those!

nukedwifey 11-03-2008 11:31 AM

I find it sad too. The whole stork thing really ticks me off. Yeah, mommy gets fat and then a some random bird brings the baby? I would have seen through that immediately as a young child. And I find it sad that parents think that children have such little aptitude for what's real that they lie to them about this stuff. I don't really remember what I called body parts when I was a child. I do know that "the miracle of birth" was one of my favorite videos as a child though. I made mom rent that a lot. I also know that my mom was pregnant with me when my sister was 7 and she told her everything, like how since my mom was 40 they had her get an amniocentesis to make sure that the baby didn't have anything wrong with it and how mommy had one ultrasound to find out if it is a girl or a boy and how the baby didn't have a penis so it is a girl. My sister told all of that to a random lady at the park and she told my grandmother, who was watching her, "I think your daughter tells her too much." I find that sad. Obviously my sister a)was very excited about it all since she was telling random ladies at the park about it and b)understood it all since she was able to repeat it in different terms from how my mom told her. I also know that my nieces love a childbirth book that my sister has. It has way more graphic pictures in it than the little kids book that you described and they look at it all the time. They love the pictures of the babies, etc. How does anyone expect an adult to accept BF and natural childbirth if they are masked from it as children and taught that anything having to do with those two things are "bad?" It can be very difficult to overcome that type of mentality.

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