So, what’s a rainbow party? Here’s the column intro:
Here’s a rich irony: I’m writing today about a new children’s book, but I can’t describe the plot in a family newspaper without warning you first that it is entirely inappropriate for children.
The book is “Rainbow Party” by juvenile fiction author Paul Ruditis. The publisher is Simon Pulse, a kiddie lit division of the esteemed Simon & Schuster. The cover of the book features the title spelled out in fun, Crayola-bright font. Beneath the title is an illustrated array of lipsticks in bold colors.
The main characters in the book are high school sophomores supposedly typical 14- and 15-year-olds with names such as “Gin” and “Sandy.” The book opens with these two girls shopping for lipstick at the mall in advance of a special party. The girls banter as they hunt for lipsticks in every color of the rainbow:
“Okay, we’ve got red, orange, and purple,” Gin said. “Now we just need yellow, green, and blue.”
“Don’t forget indigo,” Sandy said as she scanned the row of lipstick tubes.
“What are you talking about?”
“Indigo,” Sandy repeated as if that explained everything. “You know. ROY G. BIV. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.”
“That’s seven lipsticks. Only six girls are coming. We don’t need it.”
What kind of party do you imagine they might be organizing? Perhaps a makeover party? With moms and daughters sharing their best beauty secrets and bonding in the process?
Alas, no. No parents are invited to this get-together. A “rainbow party,” you see, is a gathering of boys and girls for the purpose of engaging in group oral sex. Each girl wears a different colored lipstick and leaves a mark on each boy. At night’s end, the boys proudly sport their own cosmetically-sealed rainbow you-know-where bringing a whole new meaning to the concept of “party favors.”
Why on earth would a publisher market such smut to kids? Says author Ruditis:
Ruditis says the book was never meant to sensationalize sex parties. “We just wanted to present an issue kids are dealing with,” he says.
Moreover, Ruditis told Publisher’s Weekly:
“Part of me doesn’t understand why people don’t want to talk about [oral sex],” he said. “Kids are having sex and they are actively engaged in oral sex and think it’s not really sex. I raised questions in my book and I hope that parents and children or teachers and students can open a topic of conversation through it. Rainbow parties are such an interesting topic. It’s such a childlike way to look at such an adult subject with rainbow colors.”
You can’t make this stuff up. Or can you? Some have downplayed the phenomenon as apocryphal, but that didn’t stop Oprah Winfrey from having one of her magazine editors blabbing and giggling about it in explicit language on a show ostensibly teaching parents about their children’s “code language.” A transcript of the exchange is up at Howard Stern’s website.
For once, I agree with Stern, who points out a glaring regulatory double standard. Oprah’s broadcast (on daytime network TV, accessible to children) was as indecent and titillating as anything Stern puts on the air. Why should she be allowed to hide behind the disingenuous guise of “education” while Stern faces a crackdown for vulgar entertainment?
But back to the book. The author and publisher pay lip service to the informational value of the book to families, teachers, and students. In the end, the main characters abandon plans for the event and news of an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases rocks their school. But as I point out, the front cover and book marketing (not to mention the inclusion of frequent profanities and other graphic sex scenes that I couldn’t include in the column) emphasize titillation over education, overpowering any redeeming value the book might have. Indeed, according to Publisher’s Weekly, the bound galleys sent to booksellers carried the provocative tagline, “don’t you want to know what really goes down?”
As Ruditis suggests, this book will end up on public school library shelves in the very near future, along with other “educational” crap like this. Those who raise even the least objection are cast as out-of-touch theocrats who need to “deal with reality.” Small wonder an increasing number of families are homeschooling.
If “proper socialization” means teaching 14-year-olds about group oral sex, we can only pray that more parents choose to raise social misfits.