By Rhea Arora
Elm Staff Writer
You know how kids complain about their moms and dads embarrassing them in front of their friends? Usually the accused parents made unamusing jokes or spilled a secret. One paticular parent took it a step further.
A woman, referred to as Autumn Lily Speaker, brought in cookies shaped like vaginas to educate her daughter’s second grade class about the female anatomy. The teacher refused to distribute them and frantically scraped off the frosting while trying to explain to Speaker that the gesture was inappropriate. Speaker left the classroom shouting about being disrespected.
I think there’s a great need to educate children about male and female anatomies. Maria Falzone visited WC and said that she would talk to her baby daughter about her vulva and explain bodily functions while changing her diapers because she wanted her child to be aware of her body. In many countries, female bodily functions, such as menstruation, are seen as taboos and women are sometimes barred from places of worship because menstruation is considered unclean. An episode of “Orange is the New Black” called “The Hole,” is about how the women prisoners are unaware of the ins and outs of their vaginas, so to speak. Lifestyle magazines attract readers with “How to find the G-Spot” tips because people are unaware of the workings of each other’s and their own bodies. Some girls don’t even know if female masturbation is possible or how their bodies work during pregnancy.
Why is there a need to educate people about anatomy? First they must know their own bodies to be able to identify illnesses and infections. Personal hygiene is imperative and in order to take care of your body, you must first know it thoroughly.
Second they must understand the workings of their bodies to recognize its limitations and when the body is being over-worked or abused. Many don’t even know when their personal space is being violated and when they’re being sexually assaulted. Some people don’t realize that men suffer from physical abuse just as women do. Because there isn’t sufficient sex education, children aren’t educated on right and wrong when it comes to physical interaction and they aren’t taught to identify blurred lines when it comes to sex. A lack of respect develops for the opposite gender out of ignorance. Women are embarrassed to talk about their privates and men are afraid to have shortcomings (no pun intended).
Children are naturally curious and would want to know more about the vagina if the cookies were distributed. Maybe instigating curiosity was one of the motives behind wanting to distribute the cookies. However, Speaker should have taken into consideration that a child’s curiosity might just as easily be shot down or punished by an orthodox family as it would be welcomed by a liberal one.
Speaker outlined her anger at the cookies not being distributed in a scathing email personally attacking the teacher. Speaker wrote that she would be withdrawing her child from the school because she didn’t want her daughter to be taught by a “closed-minded woman” who took on a “cliché role in life in being a teacher and not wanting to empower women.” If Speaker wanted to educate and celebrate the human body, why only educate them about vaginas? Why not penises too?
It’s important that human beings in general be educated about male, female, and transgender anatomies so that they can understand and be more sensitive to issues faced by different genders. Children should be encouraged to ask questions about human biology, and these questions should be welcomed and answered correctly, not shelved for when the child is mature enough to understand. Children can access information from anywhere in this day of age, and we know that you can’t always trust the Internet. So wouldn’t you rather that they learn the correct thing than just anything or nothing at all?
However, the way to impart this education needs to be well formulated so as to not create hostility towards the subject. Speaker should have consulted the teacher before trying to dictate how the children of the class, which she has no authority over, were being educated on sex. She should have also been more sensitive to children who do not come from liberal backgrounds and who aren’t so free with their parents. Easing into the discussion, step by step, rather than bombarding the kids with cookies shaped like “…small, puffy, white, brown, shaved, bald, and even a fire crotch with beef curtains” vaginas would have been the ideal way to go about the situation.
Respectful and informative sex education should be given as soon as possible because there’s never a problem with knowing more. There has to be a respect for certain cultures and backgrounds while educating the masses. If people are offended by sex education, chances are they’ll be averse to it from then on and ignorance spreads further, creating more problems than it solves.