Saturday, 14 July 2012

Names For Genitals

Yes, it's time for another classic post on penises. This one is triggered by the publication of a letter from Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP to the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, indicating that it wasn't important that children were able to correctly name the parts of their bodies. To which I say: bollocks testicles.

I covered this at great length back in October of last year, albeit with a focus on SRE lessons for older students. Still, I mentioned the issues with primary education, and these have been described extensively in a press release by the PSHE Association.

In my first year of teaching, I taught GCSE Biology, which included some lessons on the menstrual cycle, fertility and secondary sexual characteristics. I'm fortunate to have some (now rather elderly) plaster models of male and female genitals, and these were particularly popular. Suffice to say the vulva is as polished as the nipples on bronze statues in museums, one half of the shaft of the penis has broken after the BTEC boys dropped it (you'd think they'd know how to hold it properly), and I've lost track of how many male students have fallen over themselves in their eagerness to proclaim that they know the location of the clitoris.

But there were a lot of students who found it difficult to bring themselves to look at the models, and some of the girls wouldn't touch the male genitals model. Perhaps it was a little cruel of me to make every student in the class shout out the word "PENIS!" at the start of the next lesson, though once they'd done that they all felt better.

In one such lesson, I wanted the students to brainstorm secondary sexual characteristics. So I split the class into boys and girls, made the boys list the female secondary sexual characteristics, and the girls the male secondary sexual characteristics. Holy crap, did I learn a few new phrases that day! I also learnt that Leonardo da Vinci wasn't going to have any competitors on the anatomical illustration front from that class, but there you go.

Some of the many words that had been written down included a variety of "playground terms" for the male and female genitals. Interestingly enough, the students thought it was fine to write "cunt", but they starred out "pussy" so it was "p***y". Then one lad asked me why a penis was sometimes referred to as a "dick" in English. I confess, this question threw me. If anyone knows the etymology of "dick" for "penis" then I'll be grateful for the insight. I said that there were a lot of different nicknames, and that it was something of a personal preference (yeah, I totally bullshitted that one...).

Then one of the young ladies piped up: "Yeah, I know one guy who calls his Thunderbolt!"

The lesson ended ten minutes early because I was laughing too much to continue.

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