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Amparo Bertram

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04:34 pm: His reputation preceeds him
In my senior classes, the students have been doing show-and-tell presentations. Today, one of the girls did her presentation on Spongebob Squarepants. After she finished, one of the others tossed out, "I heard he's gay."

Of course, at this, all the other girls perk up with curiosity. I vaguely remembered reading something about it a while back.

Me: I think he held hands with a starfish.

Student: <baffled> In America, holding hands with a starfish means you're gay?

Me: It was a boy starfish.

Student: <even more puzzled> Starfish in America are boys? What about my pencilbox? Is it a boy or a girl?

Me: No, the character of the starfish was a boy.

Student: Oh, I see. So...they held hands, and...?

Me: That's it.

Student: ...? So what?

Attempting to explain that some people feel, due to their religious beliefs, that such a thing is evil and children must not be exposed to it...well, let's just say they became even MORE confused.

Japan is very open about sexuality. It's the country of "porn on the corner." You don't have to bother looking for an "adult" bookstore; any bookstore you walk into will have erotica of all kinds displayed openly on the shelves. Comics and magazines featuring women with bare breasts the size of watermelons or half-naked men locked in passionate embraces are within spitting distance of the preschool books.

Also keep in mind that this is a country where families bathe together, and not just the wee tots. Coworkers bathe together at staff parties on a regular basis. Perfect strangers bathe together at hot springs and public baths. Offering to wash your same-sex friend's back in the bath is a sign of kindness.

Thus it's not too surprising that the students couldn't wrap their minds around the idea of someone wanting to ban the sight of a sponge and a starfish holding hands.

In other news, I officially signed my contract for the remainder of the school year.

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Comments

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From:megory
Date:June 9th, 2005 04:51 am (UTC)

I never got it, either.

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There are just some things in our own culture I don't understand. Kids really like the Sponge Bob Square Pants show. Now I hear that there are people who won't have it on at their home. To each his own. I remember there once being some similar concern about Ernie and Bert on Sesame Street.
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From:firesign10
Date:June 9th, 2005 09:01 am (UTC)

Re: I never got it, either.

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And also the Teletubbies! Clearly there are people who have too much time on their hands and feel that they must stringently scrutinize any and all childhood-oriented characters in fear of their underlying subversive agenda.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:June 9th, 2005 01:42 pm (UTC)

Re: I never got it, either.

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Clearly there are people who have too much time on their hands and feel that they must stringently scrutinize any and all childhood-oriented characters in fear of their underlying subversive agenda.

I will never cease to be amused that the main character in one of the Japanese novels I read was more embarrassed to be in the religion section of the bookstore than the porn section. <giggle> It all depends on your point of view.
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From:evil_overlord
Date:June 10th, 2005 12:04 am (UTC)

Re: I never got it, either.

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**shakes her head** Ya know....I've had guys say, in my presence, that they wished sometimes that they could carry a purse. Because all the stuff they want to carry risks pulling down their pants. [heh]

I think it's really sad, that television aimed at kids is starting to be looked at so hard by the "religious right" that things are read into them that shouldn't be. Kids *should* be taught that it's okay to hold hands with someone, they *should* be taught that casual touching like handholding or hugs is *okay* to have. To make characters "gay" and thus "evil" in these people's minds, just because two characters of the same sex hold hands, or one carries a purse [and Teletubbies is a BRITISH show for god's sake. Different way of doing things than us Americans, people!!!] is just...well...*wrong*.

Oh, I *do* have a problem with the Teletubbies. But it's not because Tinkie-Winkie carries a purse. It's 'cause the little buggers don't speak in complete sentences, and that *grates* on my nerves!!

**climbs down from the soapbox now**
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From:firesign10
Date:June 10th, 2005 03:59 am (UTC)

Re: I never got it, either.

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Kids *should* be taught that it's okay to hold hands with someone, they *should* be taught that casual touching like handholding or hugs is *okay* to have.
Stipulating that one DOES unfortunately have to teach kids when it ISN'T ok to be touched-) Yes, it's especially rough for boys I think. As children they are/can be every bit as openly affectionate as girls, but they are taught early on not to demonstrate their emotions. My son (Mr Bear, 2) is as loving a child as ever was. I ponder already how to guide him through the minefield of male adolescence and resist the emotional straitjacket American males can put themselves in.

Oh, I *do* have a problem with the Teletubbies. But it's not because Tinkie-Winkie carries a purse. It's 'cause the little buggers don't speak in complete sentences, and that *grates* on my nerves!!

Hehehe I hear you! I can't stand them personally, or their evil cousins, the BooBahs! Large amorphously shaped, inarticulate beings just aren't my cup of tea (REGARDLESS of their inclinations!!! LOL)
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From:evil_overlord
Date:June 11th, 2005 11:42 pm (UTC)

Re: I never got it, either.

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Stipulating that one DOES unfortunately have to teach kids when it ISN'T ok to be touched-)

Yes, it really *is* a shame that children have to be taught what *isn't* okay to be touched. >_<

As children they are/can be every bit as openly affectionate as girls, but they are taught early on not to demonstrate their emotions.

See, I feel sorry for guys, in a way, because they *are* taught that they aren't supposed to show their emotions, and so on and so fourth. I'm a girl, so I guess that's why I don't see anything wrong with it....**shrugs** But a part of me can't help wondering if this is why the stress-related illnesses are so much higher in men than women.

Large amorphously shaped, inarticulate beings just aren't my cup of tea (REGARDLESS of their inclinations!!! LOL)

Ewww....I've escaped even *hearing* about these guys! yah, amorphous, inarticulate beings wouldn't do it for me either. heh

My son (Mr Bear, 2) is as loving a child as ever was. I ponder already how to guide him through the minefield of male adolescence and resist the emotional straitjacket American males can put themselves in.

Makes ya wish, in a way, that you can keep them at that age forever, doesn't it? I know I sure wish that with my nephew. heh Good luck on the minefield, though at least you have time to prepare!
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From:mangaroo
Date:June 9th, 2005 11:13 am (UTC)
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In other news, I officially signed my contract for the remainder of the school year.
YAY! + concern about my future your future in Japan.

I would also like to offer my solidarity to the sponge.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:June 9th, 2005 01:37 pm (UTC)
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I would also like to offer my solidarity to the sponge.

At least he knows he will always be accepted in Japan.
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From:firesign10
Date:June 10th, 2005 03:50 am (UTC)
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Does that mean Japan is.....spongeworthy?? ;-)
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From:megory
Date:June 10th, 2005 06:09 am (UTC)

Duh, how did I miss commenting on this?

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Congratulations on signing your contract. It's until the end of March, right?

Even though they were very reassuring, it's good to have all the formalities taken care of.

How is the year going, by the way, as far as the transitioning to a private school?
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:June 10th, 2005 02:43 pm (UTC)

Re: Duh, how did I miss commenting on this?

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It's until the end of March, right?

That's right.

How is the year going, by the way, as far as the transitioning to a private school?

The teachers have LOTS of meetings, which I never attend, so I don't really know. But I overhear the teachers discussing what they'll do. Prefectural teachers, apparently, have to go wherever the prefecture sends them, so they could wind up anywhere. City teachers have more flexibility.

The students are still upset. They've organized petitions and such to try to get the decision overturned.

Personally, if I were one of the students (and thus didn't have to worry about my job being at risk), the changing of the school itself wouldn't bother me at all. I was never the type to have a lot of school spirit or school pride anyway, so I wouldn't care what school name was on my diploma. The new campus is much newer and prettier and probably more comfortable than the current one (though the move to the new campus won't be for a while). Having boys admitted to the school would bug me, but the boys would only be in the incoming classes, so the older students wouldn't really be affected much (other than, you know, seeing boys in the halls).

So, I can understand that they have reasons to be upset, and I agree that the mayor handled the decision poorly, but I feel like saying, "Give it a rest already, it's not the end of the world."
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From:wrenwyn
Date:June 9th, 2005 03:27 pm (UTC)
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The sad thing is that Spongebob and Patrick are bestest friends! I hold hands with my bestest friends of the same sex! I also walk arm in arm with them too! I've kissed firesign10 and I've slept with sara_tanaquil not once but twice! hehe

Gee, by these idiots standards, I must be gay. Who wants to tell Xerxes?

(=^.^=)
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From:firesign10
Date:June 10th, 2005 03:50 am (UTC)
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Hmmmm............and then there's the G-Defend PILLOW!! Chock-full of gay goodness! :-)
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From:sara_tanaquil
Date:June 10th, 2005 07:58 pm (UTC)
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I've kissed firesign10

Hey, wait, where was I when this was going on?? CHEATER!!

(And yeah, I really do have too much time on my hands at Latin camp. Going off to Japanese vocabulary now.)
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From:sara_tanaquil
Date:June 10th, 2005 07:59 pm (UTC)
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*learn
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From:photonrecycler
Date:June 17th, 2005 12:38 am (UTC)
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Sponges are hermaphrodites usually, so they're both a straight and gay couple at the same time.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:June 17th, 2005 01:33 pm (UTC)
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That's brilliant.
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