Banned Books: Deal with It! -and- some amazing examples of webdesign that really put SWiggins to shame

Title: Deal with It! A whole new approach to your body, brain, and life as a gURL
Author: Esther Drill, Heather McDonald, Rebecca Odes,
Challenged in: good old West Bend, Wisconsin Community Memorial Library
For: “being pornographic and worse than an R-rated movie”
Along with: Baby Be-Bop, Geography Club, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

So I know you’re bummed, but this is the last book on this year’s list that was challenged in West Bend. We’ve all grown really attached to the West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries and their endearing little quirks, like their terrible webdesign skills and their desire to burn books about gay people. Ah, memories.

Incidentally, their awesome GoogleSites site appears just above my blog in a search for their own name, and is maybe one of the best websites I’ve seen since geocities died. Anything with that ratio of capitalized to uncapitalized words has got to be 100% legit. They also link pretty extensively to an organization called PABBIS or Parents Against Bad Books In Schools, which at least owns their own domain, but is not much better on the Only Knows the html For Bolding and Font Colors front. I love how they use the phrase “bad books” in a totally unironic way in their organization name. They try to provide an operational definition of “bad”, saying “Bad is not for us to determine. Bad is what you determine is bad. Bad is what you think is bad for your child. What each parent considers bad varies and depends on their unique situation, family and values. The main purpose of this webpage is to identify some books that might be considered bad and why someone might consider them bad. Another purpose of this webpage is to provide information related to bad books in schools.

Adorable. In much the same way that Twilight is adorable. So deluded it is almost cute. Almost. Except for that whole trying to burn books about gay people thing or encouraging abusive relationships1. You know, little details.

Anyway, all of this is really tangential to what I actually wanted to talk about today, Deal with It! A whole new approach to your body, brain, and life as a gURL. Once again, West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries is really bad at reviewing books for content and style. Anyone who picks up this book on their recommendation, expecting pornography or an R-rated movie will be sadly disappointed. This book is basically exactly like the many books on puberty/sex/relationships/health written for teen girls, except much more detailed. Most of these sorts of books don’t also contain sections on managing your money, coping with mood swings, or changing relationships to parents and siblings, for instance, along with all the usual bad skin, buying bras, dealing with periods, practicing safe sex aspects. Naturally anyone who takes issue with the fact that some teens will have sex will freak out about this book, because it covers a different sexual acts, usually not in any great detail, but to familiarize the teen with what they are. It struck me not so much as a step-by-step guide (at least in this section), but more as a “Here are some things that exist so you don’t have to feel stupid when people mention them”. To this end, it also includes some of the more pervasive slang terms for sex acts/body parts, although these will probably begin to date it over time.

And, yes, there are diagrams and some cartoon drawings of naked women, but it would be really hard to write a book about Your Changing Body without that. They clearly have not read my personal favorite book on this topic, Body Drama: Real Girls, Real Bodies, Real Issues, Real Answers by Nancy Amanda Redd, which features an entire page of pictures of different breasts. For a demographic that spends a great deal of time worrying about if they’re “normal”, I think it’s important to show them that “normal” is a much wider, more diverse concept than they probably think. This is one of the issues I tend to be annoyingly vocal about, so I will quiet down for now.

1But am I trying to ban Twilight? No, West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries, I’m not. I’m educating my imaginary daughters about how to avoid abusive boyfriends and how to get help, and then letting them Twihard as much as they want, as long as they don’t get Edward’s face tattooed on their face or something.

2 responses to “Banned Books: Deal with It! -and- some amazing examples of webdesign that really put SWiggins to shame”

  1. Steven says:

    It’s not even so much their web design skillz that scare me as their cavalier attitude to linking. “Find your own damn links, visitor!”

  2. This may be of relevance:

    CITY’S ED. BOOBS,” by Carl Campanile, New York Post, 13 October 2003:

    The three R’s in education were almost racy, raunchy and risqué.

    Embarrassed city Department of Education officials yanked an eye-popping book from 371 middle and high schools because it contains sexually graphic material – including crude street language – that somehow landed on the recommended reading list for students.

    The 300-page book – “Deal with It! ….

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