The Rainbow of Sex Difference: A Snippet from a Preteen Health Book
For my second web event, I chose to convey the concept of the healthy diversity of sex organs in the form of a preteen-and-up health book. As I was growing up, whenever I had questions about my growth or development that I might not have felt comfortable discussing with my parents or peers, I’d turn to one of these books. (The one I owned and referred to most often was the American Girl book The Care and Keeping of You.) I had a lot of questions, and most of them centered on an anxiety of normalcy. My concept of what was biologically and psychologically “normal” and what was not was almost entirely based on the information included in these colorful, approachable books. In fact, a wonderful health book to which I owe a lot of this project’s information and tone is even titled It’s Perfectly Normal. These health books are definitely valuable sources of information, but this information is often normalized and therefore presented as the only viable or healthy route in growth and development.
In this project, then, I struggled with how to tell preteens that the concept of normalcy is problematic and reassure them, in a more individualized way, that the important thing is to be “normal” for yourself (knowing your own optimal health and happiness levels and striving to maintain them). I approached these goals through emphasizing the beauty of diversity—how humans are different in many ways, including in their manifestations of sex organs. I’m not sure if I smoothed out the contradictions between form and function, but I went through some strenuous and strengthening mental acrobatics in trying.
(More about the form: this project is only one part of what would be a longer and more expansive health book. There are things I obliquely touch on, such as sexuality and the changes that accompany puberty, that would be better explained in more expanded form. There are also things within this chapter that could use fleshing out, such as the functions of the sex organs.)
Berman, Laura. “Handbook: How to Talk to Kids About Sex.” Oprah. 9 April, 2009. 28 October 2011. <http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Download-Dr-Laura-Bermans-Talking-to-Kids-About-Sex-Handbook>
Harris, Robie H. It’s Perfectly Normal. Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 1994.
Kimball, John. “Sexual Reproduction in Humans.” 14 October 2011. 27 October 2011. < http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/S/Sexual_Reproduction.html#Copulation_and_Fertilization>
“Male Reproductive System.” Teens Health. 2011. Nemours. 28 October 2011. <http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/changing_body/male_repro.html>
Roughgarden, Joan. Evolution’s Rainbow. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.
|A Rainbow of Sex Difference.PDF||1.08 MB|