You can’t make this sort of stuff up. I received the following message from a reader:
I just found your site and love to see a dad branching out for the better! I’m a mom to 2 wonderful girls, and have an awesome husband. It’s frustrating to him that there is not much support for dads!
Anyways I’m starting up my own site that focuses on attachment parenting and would love to add your site as “Sites that make us think” but had to ask about this first…
A few of your blogs were blocked my my computer because they were categorized as “pornography”. I opened them anyways since I decided to trust your site but thought you might like to know. Also, I’d prefer the P word to not be a part of sites I link to, obviously not needed and I’m not sure how one even gets categorized as one thing or another. Thanks for sharing your stories here!
I was rather taken aback by someone writing to me and complaining that there were words in my blog posts that were being flagged by her content filter, including a commentor who used the word penis in one of their comments. Pretty sure that vagina shows up too, but apparently that’s less of an issue based on her not asking me to skip the “v-word”? 🙂
On the other hand, I dunno, is GoFatherhood a pornographic parenting blog? If so, hooboy, this gal should read some of the dad blogs that I keep track of. They’re waaayyyy further down that road than anything I’ve ever put online!
And lest you think that it might be something reserved for us guys, I will tell you that there are plenty of mom blogs online that put us guys to shame with their crude, explicit writing. And they can be extraordinarily powerful and moving too, so it’s not like only high-falutin’ language is appropriate for discussions of parenting and parenthood by any means.
Anyway, I thought about her email to me for a few days and here’s the message I just sent back:
Thanks for your note, and I appreciate the kudos, but that last bit seems a bit like the tail wagging the dog. I write about what I write about, in the language and phrases that I feel most appropriate. I let commentors have a lot of editorial freedom too — though I remove the worst of the obscenities — and for you to request that I skip words like “penis” (really, “the P word”?) makes no sense to me.
I’d love to have you link to my site, and am flattered that you enjoy my writing and travails as a single dad, but I’m not going to change how I write or what I write so you’ll be more comfortable linking to me.
In any case, again, thanks for the kudos. Much appreciated.
What do you think, dear reader? Would you have “scrubbed” your content to get an inbound link and/or figured that they were raising a valid point and clean up your prose to sidestep “pornographic” words and phrases?
How would you respond to this sort of note?
If a correspondent used the word “pornography” and then wrote “the P word”, I would assume she was referring to the word “pornography”. Like her, I would prefer that links from my family-friendly blog were not classified as being to pornographic sites.
Obviously, the issue is this: Who classified your site with the damaging “P”-label, and why? If I were you, I wouldn’t scrub my content, but I might publicize the inadequacy or overfussiness of a censoring agency I found ridiculous.
OTOH, you might be surprised at how many people hold different standards (higher or lower) regarding “offensive” words, images, or ideas. Exhibit A: the dust-up over whether/where/when/why breasts can or cannot appear, in such contexts as nursing, cancer, and mammograms. Exhibit B: the massive media confusion about reporting on “the N-word” and its counterparts. Exhibit C: allowing/forbidding/requiring the mention of historical figures’ nonheterosexual orientation in children’s textbooks.
Speaking of different standards: Another possible P-word is “piss”, which your blog uses freely. My parents taught their kids that it was one of many “bad four-letter words”, along with “fart”, “puke”, “cock”, “nuts”, “twat”, “quim”, “tits”, slut”, and “bitch”; they just weren’t _as_ bad as the Truly Shocking Four-Letter Words or the racial/ethnic slurs. To my knowledge, none of these words ever issued from my parents’ lips except instructionally, and I infer that all our family’s friends and neighbors either had similar standards or adhered to ours when around us. (And some had even higher purity scores; one neighbor’s family considered “guy” a bad word, and a schoolmate of mine was badly flustered when she met a repairman whose first name was Guy.) I was quite surprised and dismayed when “piss” started to seep into network broadcasts and the mouths of politicians and teachers some time in the 1970s, and I still inwardly squirm at it and some of the others. In the privacy of my usually-unexpressed thoughts, I retain all the overdelicate linguistic sensibilities with which I was reared, even though I learned long ago not to judge anyone just for having been raised with different ones.
I’m generally of the same opinion you are, and I myself follow some blogs that are far racier than anything you write.
But for my own blog…I wouldn’t necessarily feel squeamish about writing the words “penis” or “vagina”, but one of the reasons I’m writing my blog is so that it can be a resource for my kids as they get older. Probably not as their first reading material, but I’d like them to be able to comfortably read it before they’re adults.
That’s my main reason for being careful about what I write…but at the same time, I try to be as frank and honest as I can.
Thanks for your blog! I just put it in my google reader
I’ll do my best not to get on my soap box, but her request rather vexed me.
It is each individual’s personal right and responsibility to censor their own blogs. Your blog isn’t intended for the very young, though I would highly recommend it to teens that are considering marriage/family in their future.
I thank my parents for not speaking down to me as a child. A penis is not a pee pee or wee wee! Anatomy and physiology should be included in one’s childhood upbringing by their parents and I say the sooner the better. I know some parents will totally disagree with me on that one, as some believe that using down speak is more age appropriate. Give me a break! It will only be an issue if the parent makes it an issue, but most children are far more intelligent than what we give them credit for.
I’m the eldest of four and when my mother changed my brother’s diapers, I inquired about the difference in my brother’s anatomy and she simply stated in a matter of fact tone that boys were born with a penis so they can urinate. That simple explanation was sufficient for me to understand at age 4!
My objections are to adults and children that use pornographic words (i.e. the “C” word) to the detriment of others as in bullying.
I already have your sites pinned to my “pinterest” accounts and will be adding your links to my blog when it’s completed.