No matter which side of the political isle you fall under regarding the current news story about transgendered people using the restroom of their choice, I am more interested in the fact that adult professional newscasters cannot bring themselves to use anatomically correct terms for male genitalia. I am not sure where this comes from, but I have a couple of ideas.
What I am talking about is the use of terms such as, “male parts,” “male equipment,” and even, “male junk!” What is the big deal about saying the word “penis?” In describing almost any other part of the male body, newscasters and the general public use anatomically correct term; we say arms, legs, ears, and usually even buttocks. But when it comes to genitalia and their functions, everybody seems to hedge, whether talking about a male or female body!
One reason is probably due to how we talk about our bodies to our children, especially very young children. We used euphemisms for many things, potty for bathrooms, beddy-bye for sleep, and, of course, peepee for urinating. Also prevalent are fingies, tootsie, footsies, etc. when talking with pre-verbal and very young children, but all the euphemisms gradually fall way after children turn five or six. So why do these culturally inoffensive words that deal with our genital also not fall by the wayside?
Another reason probably is the puritanical history of our country, with strict codes of ethics and morality until the 1960s. I remember as a teenager growing up in the south, my father telling me to turn on the water in the sink when urinating to mask the sound coming from the toilet! Like, what else would I be doing in the bathroom for about two minutes! Like women did not need to urinate themselves and would be so scandalized to hear a male urinating; of course, he did not use urinating, he said “passing water!” And this is so ingrained in us, that even I forget at times and use words like potty and poop.
So many taboos fell away in the 60s and 70s with regards to ethics and morality, especially sex, but here it is half a century later and a newscaster cannot say penis! Even more astounding, not only are we still using terms such as pee, poop, and little girl’s/boy’s room as adults, but we’ve made up new euphemisms that we would yell at our children for using!
Boobs, tits, knockers, schlong, one-eyed wonder, Johnson are just a few. Doing a quick search, I found over 200 synonyms for breast and 2000 for penis! While this discrepancy can be partly explained by needing different words due to the physical condition of the penis, whether it is flaccid or erect, I would bet that the majority of all these euphemisms come from men and their insecurities surrounding anything to do with genitalia and sex!
And what is it with the movies? Vulvas have been shown in films since Last Tango in Paris came out in the early 1970s, but very few penises ever make it to the big screen. If they do, it better be quick and flaccid, otherwise the movie will garner an X rating. Sure, you might say, the vulva is usually hidden by pubic hair whereas a penis could be seen through the pubic hair, but I would bet this phenomenon is either misogynistic, male insecurities around their genitalia, or both!
I am absolutely amazed at the dearth of knowledge or, worse, the misinformation people have about sex in general and their bodies in the, so called, information age. Working with children, teens, young adults, and even those in their 50s, it is truly sad to witness the embarrassment shown if, due to some information they have imparted, the subject of bladder and bowel movements have to be addressed in a session. Forget having an honest discussion about their sexual lives until about the third or fourth time it is brought up! One way to start combating this just to use correct terminology with children, no matter the body part or function. But first, adults will have to get over their fear of using the no-no words!