On some level it makes perfect sense that Albom, Michigander, is uncomfortable with words like penis and vagina in literature; after all, one of his state reps was banned from saying "vagina" within the context of a debate about abortion bills. (Not because, technically, abortions do not occur in vaginas, but rather because Rep. Mike Callton found the word "vagina" inappropriate to be used "in mixed company" -- that is, around the owners of vaginas and others who do not have them. He also said the term vagina was "so offensive, I don't even want to say it in front of women." This is rather curious because, well, most-to-almost-all of them have vaginas! I'm not saying teach your three-year-old niece what a vagina is without her parents' consent, but these are adult women in front of whom
(Let it also be entered into the record that Callton is not a doctor. He is a chiropractor, but not an M.D. Not that being an M.D. gives one law to decide which medical terms like "vagina" are inappropriate... but I think you get my drift.)
(He's also a Birther. Just adding another fact I found out about Mike "I Don't Want To Hear The Word Vagina Ever, Even Though I Have Probably* Traveled Through One Once**" Carlton.)
Back to Albom: Under pressure, perhaps, to write a 50 SHADES OF GREY column, he focuses on how it embarrasses him that such crude language is used in our culture. This is the entirety of his column -- that he feels embarrassed by 50 SHADES, by movies like "Hysteria" and by "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23," because there is open discussion of sex in all those things. Somewhere, Andy Rooney shakes his heavenly fist that he didn't think of this one first***.
At least he doesn't use the throw blanket of "But think of the children!!" to cover up his shoddy argument. But pray tell, who made Albom read 50 SHADES and watch "Don't Trust the B----" (I hear it's good, actually) or "Girls" (which he paints with the Katie Roiphe brush that if it isn't fun-looking then it must be bad)? Oh... nobody. But just knowing that women like 50 SHADES or that a character in "Don't Trust the B----" sleeps with another character gives him the bad tingles in the no-no place. As much as Albom claims he's not trying to tell people what to do, he's... suggesting to people what to do, and that's the same.
Now if I ran into Mitch Albom at a party I wouldn't say, "Let's talk about vaginas." I know my crowd. (I'd probably open with "What are you doing in New York?", which is safe enough.) But unfortunately, "It makes me embarrassed for the world" is not a good enough reason to not have free speech. If that were the case I would send Mike Callton into deep space, where no one could hear him rattle off his preferred euphemisms for vagina****, along with people who post homophobic jokes on Facebook, wear blackface or own a "No Fat Chicks" bumper sticker. I can't blast them off into deep space because I have to deal with them here on earth, and so does Albom. There are centuries of more "demure" popular culture he can dive into -- well, some of it may not be all that demure, but at least it doesn't have the word vagina in it, oh heavens where are my smelling salts. You can choose not to consume whatever forms of various entertainments you wish, but leave us out of it.
For the record, the word vagina is used 6 times in 50 SHADES OF GREY; penis, not at all.
As to Albom's contention that "If there isn't some shock involved, it isn't worth doing anymore," I would hope for the sake of the human race that he is incorrect, and so does my vagina.
*I would prefer not to double check this fact.
**There is likely a more clinical way to say that, that makes birth sound less like an airport hub.
***Actually, there is probably an Andy Rooney "60 Minutes" commentary about this somewhere. And if you know where it is, let me know.
****...I don't want to know.
6 hours ago