The use of the term "blue balls" by student writers leads to parental outrage and censorship

Blue BallsAt Mountain View High School in Mountain View, California, there appears to be a movement to assault free speech in the name of decency. To trumpet standards of behavior at the risk of true education.

Several students, parents, and teachers attended a meeting recently where issues stemming from student articles in the high school newspaper (the Oracle) about sex were given time at the podium.

Most of the ruckus seemed to center on the use of the term “blue balls.” There were some adults who thought it was a crude description and that its usage showed poor judgment. However, if one does some research, it is difficult to find an alternative.

The medical community is aware of the phenomenon, where a male experiences pain in his testicles after engaging in arousing physical contact without experiencing an orgasm. Although some urologists describe the condition as “epididymal hypertension,” there is no commonly used terminology in use in medical or academic journals.

Although it is considered slang, “blue balls” is apparently the most prominently utilized term for the condition. So the use of the term isn’t egregiously vulgar or purposely crass.  It’s an “ease of use” situation where slang has become the common term. Still, some of the adults involved in the controversy have complained that its use is a violation of common decency and borders on being lewd.

It seems more important to me that such things are being talked about in the first place. Industry standards in language can be updated, especially when there aren’t other options except the long, drawn-out academic explanations.

student_censorshipLanguage evolves over time, quick and easy descriptions are created and falls into regular usage. Any perceived vulgarity is a person’s own assigning of a prudish, puritan standard that borders on something much more offensive to this writer; censorship.

We are adults, and are supposed to be able to handle things like “bad” words in a mature manner. Even young adults are in routine use of vulgar language and abuse the power of the words that we have built in to them through indoctrination, but we put the power there.

The words do not have power in and of themselves. How we accept them into our consciousness determines our reaction. We decide if it is offensive and if the surrounding context is one of education and open discussion, the words alone do not levy a grand offensive incident.

Parents are protective of their children and want the best for them. Most don’t want their kids being promiscuous or experimenting with their sexuality, but let’s face it; it’s on young adults’ minds. They’re itching to grow up and belong, and they want to learn for themselves.

If they’re talking about things like sex… and they are, perhaps we should do our best to provide the best information we can so they can make the best decisions for themselves. Good information after will allow them to be safe, and not get stuck in situations that could adversely change their life forever.

I applaud the Oracle and the State of California for having the highest of standards. For being open to debate and tolerating all opinions.


  1. Riding on public transit would be educational to these prudes. University of British Columbia has thousands of students as do the high schools in Vancouver. It seems language teachers have fallen down on their job because all these young people do not seem to have the vocabulary breadth and use the “F” word combining with “ing” or prefaced with Mother!

  2. I certainly have an opinion regarding our Public Schools It appears that this discussion involves oparents, teachers and students alike., There are better ways to expressne’s thoughts The acceptance of lazy speech and writing is an evolution we could all do without. Since students don’t always know better, it falls upon the Parents and Teachers to step up and insill the students with a greater pride in the language.

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