a) During my childhood, I used to use the Spanish word ‘cuca’ to refer to my vagina; often, I called male anatomy ‘Cuco,’ which was a slang term for the mythical ghost-monster – it’s basically the Hispanic equivalent of the boogeyman. I used this often in the context of other people’s private parts, because I knew it was not allowed for me to look at it. This was taught to me to teach me that I was not supposed to look at boy’s penises, and diminished the ‘dirtiness’ of these parts by hiding the more clinical terms from me (Greenberg, Bruess and Conklin, 2011, p. 77).
b) Today, I still use these words when dealing with the subject of genitalia with my niece – I teach her to use those words as well, mostly because I feel that they were good euphemisms that were useful to me in learning when it was appropriate to mention sexual organs. As I talk about these topics, I am still uncomfortable with being frank with her about these things, so I hide the strong emotional language with these silly code words (Greenberg, Bruess and Conklin, 2011, p. 77). I use the humor of these words to prevent people from reacting negatively to the way I talk to my niece about sexuality, as they sound less serious.
c) I feel comfortable using both slang and formal vocabulary, as I alternate between them in my daily speech on a regular basis. It is the same way when I talk with my husband; we both use slang and proper vocabulary, often using Spanish slang as opposed to English. I think we do that just because we are very open with each other, and different contexts call for different words used – in the bedroom, we use slang, and in more casual conversation, but in a clinical, formal context and proper language are used. I enjoy being clear with my husband about my sexuality, which was part of the reason I picked him (that comfortability I felt with him), but this common terminology is a way to be closer together (Greenberg, Bruess and Conklin, 2011, p. 78).
d) I do not have children as of yet, but honestly I think I will call things by their real name; I may eventually use cuca (vagina) and coco (pennies) to refer to female and male genitalia, but I will not use cuco, because I would like my children to have a healthy attitude towards human anatomy, and allow them to be comfortable with having their genitalia. I admit I would not feel comfortable using adult terms around them as yet, because my own family influence led me towards these slang words.
(Lecture _week 2)
Greenberg, J.S., Bruess, C.E. & Conklin, S.C., (2011). Exploring the dimensions of human sexuality (4th ed.). Sudbury, Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Kari, I am very glad to hear that you and your husband communicate well with each other, especially with regards to sex. I, too, feel that I have not ‘flooded’ as of yet; my husband and I have many more experiences to have with each other. I also alternate my language around adult company, but use slang and cuter language around younger people, so as not to disrupt their own sex vocabulary or teach them more than they need to know yet about sex. As for the question, I do not believe we can effectively teach our children about sex as long as we do not clarify what constitutes sex, and how it works. We need to find a way to elegantly communicate the function of genitalia in sex without offending people or giving children too much information to assimilate.
Mark, the varying names for genitalia that you shared among your peers are interesting, as are the ideas that you had regarding where your waste came from. I think it is very indicative of the natural curiosity we have about our bodies, and the times when we get it wrong so often. I can certainly understand your reticence, however, toward using the more formal terms as an adult, as it can often sound like it takes away from the emotion or fun of referring to those parts. It is very interesting to consider the use of vulgar names for the sake of humor, not education, and I think that is something that should be explored. The difference between using a vulgar term in jest and using it to refer seriously to genitalia might be great, as it can alter a child’s perception of what that word is supposed to mean.