Skepticism

The Cooter Monologues

Everytime I think things can’t get weirder in the US…I’m wrong. Exhibit A: This news story.

Play’s controversial title leads to complaints, change.
ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. Feb. 6, 2007. A modified marquee in Atlantic Beach has been drawing some attention. “Hoohaa” replaced a word in the title of a play after a driver complained about finding the previous wording offensive.”

HooHaa!What’s going on? A group is staging a charity production of the Vagina Monologues. Alas, someone driving by with her niece saw the sign, and was asked what a vagina was. The aunt wasn’t happy about being forced to explain (and also, presumably, to explain why a vagina wouldn’t really talk.)

Having spent a great deal of time in the south, I know that anything below the waist is generally referred to as “down there.” Have a bad period? That’s “lady problems.” You don’t talk about that.

So little information was provided to me in my Texas high school “health” class, I went to college believing that homosexual and hermaphrodite were the same thing. My period, which didn’t start until I was 14, terrified me. What was wrong?? Would I die??

People. Sex and knowledge about sex Is Not A Bad Thing.
There is now a vaccine that can provide tremendous protection against cervical cancer–but many states that initially planned to require girls to be vaccinated to attend school have hit a road block. See, without the punishment and fear of disease, girls will be promiscuous.

If you want to get a sense of how uptight America is about sex, I recommend you go out and rent/purchase this DVD: This Film is Not Yet Rated, the story of the hugely artificial MPAA ratings system.
Violence against women? Hey, that’s fine. Women having sexual pleasure? No, that can’t be shown in movies generally available to the public.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, my lady no-no zone is bothering me, and I need a little lie down.

bug_girl

Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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31 Comments

  1. Yeah, the cultural discontinuity in this country between the knowledge of sex and the exploitation of sex is amazing when you step back and look at it.

    As for sex ed ("family planning" as it was called), in my high school we had a fairly informative program. But one day, my social studies teacher had a Christian pastor come in and tell the class that all VD came from bestiality, and abstinence was the only real solution to birth control. Mixed messages, to say the least. The sex ed teacher found out about this and repeated the truth about VD, and did his best to clear up the other misconceptions and outright lies the pastor had told us.

    Fortunately, I never had my life affected by such misinformation. But I've known those who did.

  2. The VAGINA Monologues is a great piece. I highly suggest seeing it or reading the book if you haven't already. This HOOHAA sign is so ironic, because the whole point of The VAGINA Monologes is that we women should stop being afraid and embarassed to talk about our VAGINAS.

  3. I think that the fact that the driver's neice didn't know what a vagina is was really telling. I for one am glad that my parents told me the "real" names of "vagina" & "penis". There was no silly "down there", "hoo-hoo", or "ding-a-ling" in my house.

  4. The interviews in This Film is Not Yet Rated made me like Kevin Smith and John Waters even *more* than I already liked them.

    And I don't write about pr0n, guys. I write about healthy sexuality and technology issues.

    :D

  5. I wonder how old this lady's niece was. Why should it be uncomfortable to explain one of your body parts? It's not like girls don't have access to it! In my public elementary school I believe we had the girls only class on m-e-n-s-t-r-u-a-t-i-o-n in 5th grade, or maybe it was the begining of 6th grade. I never had a sex education class of any sort (I went to a Catholic High School and junior year's religion class was "Sexuality & Dating" in the "Christian view." My mother was divorced when I was eight and my sex education came from perusing the original Our Bodies, Ourselves when I was 10 or 11, which had ~gasp~ vaginal birth pictures and all! Too, if anyone remembers the first Joy of Sex with its sketch drawings of a hippyish couple, I found that on her shelf and perused that, too. She never sat down and talked to us about sex per se, except to say that we should have respect for our bodies and not let men treat us with disrespect. She didn't leave out the Joy of Sex (that was my terminally curious snooping through her books), but she did leave Our Bodies, Ourselves lying around. Neither of these things, nor finding my uncle's Playboy magazines, made me run out and find my own "joy of sex." What it did do is make me aware so that many years later when I did find "joy" with my steady boyfriend of three years, I carted myself down to Planned Parenthood by myself, didn't tell anybody, and promptly went on the pill. I certainly wasn't going to announce to my parents, "I'm going to have sex now, see ya!" I wanted to be responsible about it.

    Which brings to me to the matter of the HPV vaccine, which I'm glad you brought up, Bug Girl. Just Thursday I was at my doctor's (a surgeon, in fact, and a prior Chief of Staff of a hospital here), and I asked him what he thought of this recent debate in Texas about this. He said, "Well, it is a bit intrusive…" The female nurse and I were both like, "Please, bring it on! This is the best thing!" But it needs to be given to boys as well as girls, and unfortunately a vaccine isn't available for boys.

    HPV is the most pernicious of the STDs, not only because it can lead to cervical cancer, but it's also a suspected culprit in perianal Bowen' disease (a squamous cell skin lesion) and possible other problems. If a female gets venereal warts and they spread up to the cervix or in the anal area, cryosurgery and/or laser surgery is necessary, not simple podophyllin (sp?). Either way, once females have HPV they will spend the rest of their lives having to be VERY vigilant about Pap Smears and monitoring any potential cancerous cells or changes on the cervix. If they don't have good insurance or means to Planned Parenthood or such places, or they drop out of society, their chances increase. The costs all around are much greater in the long term.

    There are millions of people walking around with HPV and Herpes; I'm sure any adult with these wished there could be a vaccine and cure for them. STDs are a MAJOR public health problem. And unlike herpes on a male, which is usually noticeable during an outbreak, HPV on a male is virtually undetectable – they don't even know they have it and they spread it. Personally, I don't know one person in my experience, including three sisters and friends, who have never had unprotected sex in the age group the CDC says STDs are a problem: http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats/trends2005.htm

    Getting a vaccine isn't going to make someone feel freer to have sex. There are condoms anyway, and there's still pregnancy and other pesky yet curable STDs to deal with. If we want to eradicate these diseases from our society we need to take steps and vaccinating kids by high school would help make a dent. The real world doesn't work like Suzy is going to say to her Bible-thumping Baptist mom, "Hey, I'm going to have sex with Bobby in the backseat of the car tonight, can I get the vaccine, Mom?" What if somebody is raped, too?

    I was surprised by my surgeon's comment. I had to show my immunization record and have an updated tetanus shot to attend a college. If one travels to certain countries one gets shots to avoid diseases that are not a problem in the US. Thank you for not bringing those back home!

    The fact is people have sex, and unprotected sex at that, and the cost benefit to all and society in general is greater if we can lick some of these diseases and make them as memorable as measles. Not all parents are reliable to discuss these matters with their kids and do something about it – not even educated and otherwise good parents. And if for religious reasons they can't deal with it, then they need to pull their heads out of their butts, because I can assure you Catholic girls do have sex before they're married. In this article, a mother makes the point that if the shot is done when young it won't come across as condoning sex – it's just another required shot.

    If I had a daughter I would certainly want her to have every vaccine possible – it would save a lot of headache and heartache for the future if she happened to become one of the 20 million people walking around with HPV . This is a good thing that state govts can do for us, especially as whatever other methods there are for preventing STDs are not working. And that's just one STD!

    Vaccines and Novocaine…wonderful things.

    (Sorry for the verbose coffee rant.)

  6. Thanks, Bug Girl. :-)

    Whatever stimulates discussion, whether by humor or seriousness, works for me! My niece, I was just informed, has just joined the world of cramps, so these issues are fresh on my mind. Too, I have a sister 11 years younger than me, so I have experience and strong feelings about these matters. I'll refrain for now…

  7. Are girls in the US required to get a rubella vaccination?

    I know they are in Europe, because a woman getting it during her pregnancy can, I think, lose the baby, and possibly her own life?

    Now that right there is a perfect example of a vaccine that protects girls at a younger age from a problem they'll not encounter until they hit their late teens (or maybe never at all). And nobody is suggesting that 10 year old girls are going to run out and get pregnant the moment they get the shot.

    In fact, you could include the shot among all the others newborns get during the first two years of their life, and it wouldn't even be an issue any more.

  8. Exarch, I can't say I know what all the requirements are currently, but I had to get oral polio, DPT, tetanus, smallpox, measles, rubella, tuberculin and all the boosters. College required measles, mumps, and rubella, and if you received your measles immunization before 1969 you had to be revaccinated. You also needed an updated tetanus shot (every 10 years). I'll never forget a teacher's description of death by tetanus in a health class. Not pleasant.

  9. Yes, excellent rant, Melusine. The thinking of those protesting state-mandated HPV vaccination and effective sex ed is astounding to me. These people are embracing ignorance, and worse, they want to keep those who will be most affected by that ignorance in the dark.

    Disgusting. Enraging, even.

  10. I spent a day or two a while back comparing ratings in the US and Norway on IMDB and posted a thread about it at mu.nu, here's some of the more interesting comparisons:

    Lost in Translation

    Norway: All

    US: R for some sexual content.

    About a boy

    Norway: All

    US: PG-13 for brief strong language and some thematic elements.

    Along came Polly

    Norway: All

    US: Rated PG-13 for sexual content, language, crude humor and some drug references.

    Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

    Norway: 11

    US: R for nonstop crude and sexual humor, pervasive strong language, and drug content.

  11. My daughter is 16 and not sexually active. She has received two of the three shots, and will finish the series in April.

    EVEN IF she abstains until marriage, who is to say her HUSBAND has abstained? OR what if she gets raped? Stuff happens. At least she is protected from this particular form of cancer.

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