Dick Tracy: A frank talk about you-know-what
Let’s talk about sex. Or maybe you’re overwhelmed with it popping up in headlines about the dilly-dallying of prominent politicians, doctors, coaches and celebrities?
It wasn’t always like this. Sure, we’re all guilty of “prurient interests” now and then, but I remember an “awakening” while in early grade school. We waited for our school bus in a local market and hung out near the magazine rack at the back of the store. I was eager to read the comic books, but one of the kids was tall enough to reach up in the top rack and bring down a (gasp) nudist magazine.
Whoa! Even with strategic air-brushing of the photos, it sent young imaginations racing.
Those were the days when there were congressional hearings (I’m not making this up) over the “bosom enhancement” of drawings in some classic EC Comics. (My favorites, but not for that reason, with titles like, “Tales From The Crypt,” “Weird Science” and “Mad”.)
And when Jane Russell starred in “The Outlaw” and slipped into bed with her ailing cowboy, it was so shocking in the 1950s there were two versions of the film: One for adults, the other for kids.
In the sixth grade we were first “instructed” about sex, with girls in one room with Mrs. Bullis and the boys in another, with a male student teacher. Afterward, one of my pals looked ill. He could not imagine his parents doing that to produce three children. I knew them, and neither could I.
“Maybe you were adopted!” I said.
In 10th grade ROTC, two “worldly” sergeants held one class called, “Keep it in your pants!” and it was so entertaining that some guys cut class for a repeat presentation in the afternoon.
Then the Kinsey Report made headlines for exploring sexuality. I worked at the Washoe County Library in Reno after school and the single copy was kept in the reference librarian’s desk.
Yes, a couple of us guys sneaked a peek. It was utterly boring.
Oh, how times have changed since then. Nowadays we see more titillating action on TV ads for mattress sales than took place in “The Outlaw.”
It was probably 20 years ago when my wife and I were poking around the British Museum in London and wandered into a set of rooms dedicated to “Human Biology.” And there we found a larger-than-life Plaster-of-Paris statue of a nude couple copulating. And, to make sure viewers were made aware of what was happening, a strategic part of the pair had been cut away to reveal exactly how everything fit.
Doing our best to appreciate the scene for its scientific accuracy, we heard children’s voices.
Entering the room with their female teacher were about two dozen schoolgirls, probably 10 years old and dressed in Mary Jane shoes, pleated checked uniform skirts, white blouses and straw hats. Each girl was clutching sheets of paper and art supplies.
I held my breath, waiting for their reaction to the statue. There was none. They quietly walked right past and on into another room to complete their art assignment.
What would our congressmen of old have had to say about this?
The broadcast media has come a long way in this respect, too. I remember an interview with a National Public Radio female reporter recalling, “The first time I said ‘vagina’ on the air, I was sure I was going to be fired!”
Nowadays, horizons have expanded. Boy, have they! The mechanics of “Golden Showers” have been spelled out on the pages of the New York Times. You missed it? Google it … or ask any teenager.
How about the radio ads for Noxitril male enhancement pills? “It’s like Viagra on steroids!” a woman gleefully testifies.
Yes, we still have guidelines for sexual language, referring to the most widely used profanity (noun, pronoun, adjective and verb) as, “the F-bomb.”
How quaint! But when the word is printed out for all to see — as it was in a recent story which appeared in the Sacramento Bee — it created no major ruckus. In the old days, when I was in harness there, it would certainly have been “altered” by the copy desk, but it was a direct quote from a court hearing of a man accused of murdering a police officer.
“That’s why I killed the mother—ker !” he shouted. “All you f—kers are cowards!” (You can fill in the blanks, I’m sure.)
So, where do we go from here? Are these taboos a thing of the past? We’ll have to wait and see what’s next.
Sex: Where would we be without it?
Dick Tracy, who lives in Grass Valley, is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His views are his own and do not represent the views of The Union or its editorial board members. Contact him at EditBoard@TheUnion.com
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