Monday, November 21, 2011

A 'sign' Of the Times

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high.
Like a Vagina in the sky.

Twinkle twinkle... whoa wait a minute. What did you say? Like a Va-jayjay in the sky? WTH?

Well that is what my coworker was told at a recent workshop for learning about using music to teach young children. My friend was quite shocked to sit there and listen to the seminar leader tell everyone that they should STOP making the little diamond shape with their hands while singing 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' with their preschool groups. Why? Because, the leader said, the diamond shape we are using is actually the sign language sign for Vagina - so we should all stop using the diamond immediately in case others find it offensive, or confusing (for example, if there are children in the group who use sign language to communicate).

Well, we were not ones to take this new info at face value - we got out our sign language manual (because we teach simple signing to all of our children and have done for many years) - and lo and behold, that was not the sign for it. It's an upside-down triangle.

To double check, I went online when I got home and looked at several sign language dictionary sites and came up with the same thing every time - upside-down TRIANGLE, not the 'diamond'. My friend was told to use the sign language sign for diamond from now one - and then the group leader showed a sign that isn't quite the sign language for diamond either. She said to point at your ring finger, but it's actually making the letter D and shaking it off your finger,,, but I digress.

My point is, we were told to change an age old song because some may find it 'offensive' ---- even though the information I have gathered shows that THIS is the sign for vagina:

That's the most 'diamond-shaped' one I could find, the rest are more like a triangle with thumbs straight across. But, regardless of that, the diamond we have all been making with our hands since we were wee folk ourselves looks nothing like that - it's right side up, fingers pointing up.

I wrote to a couple of people involved in the seminar to ask them about it and got basically nothing in response. The head of our childcare association even said 'I guess if that's what she said, we should follow it.' What? Why? Because this woman who is supposedly the regional head of our Family Literacy blah blah group says so? Who the heck is she to change this age-old fingerplay song that the kids love so much?

This is the kind of thing that drives me insane. We decided that we are not going to follow this new fun little rule, and I wonder how long it will take before we are practically forced to change it. Ridiculous. IMHO.

I should post a disclaimer that I did see the 'diamond' on some sites but it was more like sign-language 'slang'. I saw mention of it on a gay and lesbian website (where they stated that 'sometimes' it is used the opposite way) and a lot of photos on a google image search showing the 'diamond' or 'large O' shape. But nothing on the mainstream sign language dictionary sites. They did not say at this webinar that it was Sign-Slang. So are they jumping at the gun or what?

It is reminiscent for me of the days in the early 90s when I worked in a british playschool and a Prime Directive came down that we were no longer allowed to refer to the 'playing house' area of the center as The Wendy House (which seemed to be the usual term around those parts). Instead we were to start calling it The Home Corner, in order to open up the idea of playing in there to boys as well. Funnily enough - the boys were already quite happy to play in there and somehow, despite the name Wendy House, they did not go in there and boss the girls around, demanding supper on the table and the children fed and changed. The boys were already having a grand old time in there without giving a crap what the name of the place was. And changing the name did not invite in other boys who must have wanted to play in there apart from the girlie name. Those ones that were uninterested stayed out, it made no difference what the name was. And now here we are 20 years later still preparing for all inevitabilities in case we Offend someone.

Maybe I find it offensive to point to the finger for the diamond! What the heck is that teaching children? I don't have a diamond ring. Is it a measure of being an adult to carry a diamond around on your ring finger? What about boys? You don't see many men out there with diamond rings flashing around - so what is THAT going to teach them? Geezus murphy. I don't know where some people get their ideas.

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