Sex in a children’s book

I don’t know about you, but the last time I heard that a book was getting banned in this country, I went online to check out what the particular book was, and went on to purchase it online. From what I read then, it seemed that I wasn’t the only one with that idea.

You see, it’s more or less a generic reaction. When you tell someone they can’t do/read/say/(insert action) something, they end up wanting to do/read/say/(insert action) it more than ever. It’s this rebellious nature that we have about us, we generally don’t like to be told what we can or cannot do.

So imagine the kind of reaction that would come out of the Home Ministry’s decision to ban a children’s book, “Where Did I Come From?” by Peter Mayle. The book was first published in 1984, and from what I’ve read, might have been published and distributed in Malaysia since 1997.

This is a children’s book, and from what images I’ve been able to see of its contents, it is illustrated pretty much like how a children’s book should be. But more importantly, it’s a book that describes, via words and drawn pictures, “where we come from”, or in other words, sex.

Let’s not dabble on how many copies of this book has already been sold since 1997 (let’s hope someone knows exactly why it took the Home Ministry this long to identify this book and hence determine it’s unsuitability), nor about how many children this book has educated, or how many parents have used this book to answer their children’s more awkward questions. Because let’s face it, we all know that children, especially those from this new generation, are prone to ask adults questions they would really prefer not to answer.

Let’s discuss, instead, about how we have been debating about having sex education in schools, and how our authorities had intended to teach this subject, without resorting to such “obscene” words and pictures. Drawn pictures at that.

Someone form Umno Youth was quoted as having said, “The degree of obscenity inside the book was too much.” The same person also added that while the book might have been suitable for children in Mayle’s home country (he’s from Britain), the book is not suitable for children in Malaysia.

The last time I checked, children all around the world have the same body parts. Malaysian boys have penises the same way boys from Britain do. And when Malaysian girls grow up, they will have breasts like their British peers. Maybe size would be slightly different, but the anatomy is all there.

If the people who suggested that we should have sex education in this country are serious about their proposal, they should also seriously consider the mixed messages their sending out. By banning this book and calling its contents “pornographic”, it essentially means that there is no way we are going to be able to teach our children anything about sex or their bodies without resorting to porn. Now, that’s not very comforting, now is it?

The authorities should get off their high horses and look at this carefully. There’s a very big difference between pornography, and proper, necessary, sex education. And it would serve them well to be able to tell the difference. If a children’s book like this gets the ban (which it already has), I worry for the future generation kids who won’t know what a penis or vagina is, or that boys shouldn’t put their penises into girls’ vaginas (at least, until they’re all grown up and responsible).

Scary thoughts, those.

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