2007年9月14日 星期五

The birds, the bees and the taboos

Sex education in the land of the Kama Sutra

The birds, the bees and the taboos

Sep 13th 2007 | DELHI AND MUMBAI
From The Economist print edition

"The birds and the bees" (sometimes expanded to "the birds, the bees and the butterflies" or "the birds, the bees, the flowers, and the trees") is an idiomatic expression which refers to courtship and sex, and is usually used in reference to teaching someone about sex and pregnancy. The phrase is evocative of the metaphors and euphemisms often used to avoid speaking openly and technically about the subject.

According to some, the birds and the bees is a metaphorical story sometimes told to children in an attempt to explain the mechanics and consequence of sexual intercourse. According to that story, a baby is created when a bee stings a bird. In some cases the choice of birds and bees may be because they provide a ready metaphor for insemination (pollination) and childbirth (hatching).

"Word sleuths William and Mary Morris hint that it may have been inspired by words like these from the poet Samuel Coleridge: 'All nature seems at work ... The bees are stirring--birds are on the wing ... and I the while, the sole unbusy thing, not honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.' " [1]

Birds & Bees: A Sexual Study
Dugald Stermer (著)
ハードカバー: 143 p ; サイズ(cm):
出版社: Collins Pub San Francisco ; ISBN: 0002554623 ; (1995/09)Stermer2.jpgStermer3.jpg

やっと届いた、Stermerの画集。様々な動物の性行動や子育ての模様を描いたイラストが70点ほど納められています。過去のエントリで「VANISING CREATURES」を紹介しましたが、それより格段に良いですね。BookFinderで探して、なんと値段は$2.95です。送料は別に$7.50かかっていますが、それでもかなりお得だったと思います。

No sex please, we're Indian nationalists

BALU SUDHA, a teacher at a private girls' school in Mumbai, enrolled on a sex education course because she felt unable to answer her pupils' constant questions about sex. Her school, one of the city's poshest, invites an expert to lecture pupils on “those sorts of matters” two or three times a year.

posh Show phonetics
1 INFORMAL (of places and things) expensive and of high quality:
He takes her to some really posh restaurants.

2 UK INFORMAL (of people and their voices) from a high social class:
A woman with a very posh accent telephoned for him earlier.

That is more than most children in the state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, are getting. Sex education has never been Indian schools' strong suit, but earlier this year Maharashtra and eight other states rejected a new sex-education programme introduced by the central government. They included some of India's most populous, such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, where one teachers' association threatened to make a bonfire of the new textbooks.

strong point MAINLY UK noun [C] (MAINLY US strong suit)
a particular skill or ability which a person has:
Tact is not her strong point, judging by the way she behaved.

bonfire Show phonetics
noun [C]
a large fire that is made outside to burn unwanted things, or for pleasure

The attempt to make sex education universal in a country where sex is rarely discussed openly was always going to be tough. The course's euphemistic title—“Adolescent Education Programme” (AEP)—did not fool teachers, many of whom were horrified by a flipchart with illustrations of naked bodies and detailed drawings of genitalia.

euphemism Show phonetics
noun [C or U]
a word or phrase used to avoid saying an unpleasant or offensive word:
'Senior citizen' is a euphemism for 'old person'.
The article made so much use of euphemism that often its meaning was unclear.

euphemistic Show phonetics

flip chart noun [C] 可掀式掛圖flipchart
a board standing on legs with large pieces of paper fixed to the top which can be turned over

genitals Show phonetics
plural noun (ALSO genitalia) SPECIALIZED
the outer sexual organs, especially the penis or vulva

genital Show phonetics
the genital area/organs

Some also expressed anger over the inclusion of information on contraception and sexually transmitted diseases—the main point of the initiative. In India, 44% of reported AIDS cases occur among 15-29 year-olds. The involvement of the United Nations' Children's Fund, which developed the programme with the government, was another hurdle. It gave right-wing religious groups, always quick to make political capital from issues touching on “Indian values”,印度價值觀 the chance to dismiss it as a Western import.

Nasratullah Afandi, of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, an Islamic cultural organisation, says teaching sex education is part of an attempt to create a “homogenised culture”. “Anyway, sex is instinctive,” he adds. “It is not necessary to teach children about it.”

homogenized, UK USUALLY homogenised Show phonetics
describes milk which has been treated so that the cream is mixed into the other parts of the liquid

This highlights another problem: that many Indians have serious misconceptions about what sex education involves. As it happens, if they are given without publicity, sex-education classes can work in India. Since 1995, the Catholic church, which runs more than 100 schools in Mumbai, has taught a course that focuses on AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases with no fuss at all.

fuss (FEELING) Show phonetics
noun [S or U]
a show of annoyance, anxiety, dissatisfaction or excitement, usually one which is greater than the situation deserves:
She made such a fuss when Richard spilt a drop of wine on her blouse!
It's all a fuss about nothing.
I don't see what the fuss is about - he seems like a fairly ordinary looking guy to me.
We tried to arrange a ceremony with as little fuss as possible.

fuss Show phonetics
verb [T] US
to make someone nervous and angry by trying to get their attention when they are very busy:
Don't fuss me, honey, I've got a whole pile of work to do.

But following the ruckus over the AEP, several states are tinkering with the course material. AIDS groups worry that this will involve stripping out the sex and focusing on “life skills”. The central government, meanwhile, has formed a committee to review its programme. It says it will reintroduce a watered-down version by the end of the year.

ruckus PhoneticPhoneticPhoneticPhoneticPhoneticPhoneticPhoneticPhoneticPhonetic Hide phonetics
noun [C usually singular] MAINLY US INFORMAL
a noisy situation or argument; a rumpus

In Delhi the sex-education programme never reached any schools. Rina Ray, education secretary in the local government, said it would introduce its own course in November. It would emphasise “life skills: like nutrition, decision-making, and communicating with one's parents”. It did include information about sex and AIDS, she added. “But we're the education department, not the health department.”