While enjoying Michael Walker’s latest A-musings over the weekend, a thought occurred to me quite unrelated to his topic du jour. I say unrelated, even though I could not with any degree of confidence argue that the musings expressed in the most recent of Walker’s twice weekly column had not triggered the thought I am here about to share. And now I am reminded (Andre Gide?) that there is no truth quite as pure as the truth you discover for the first time in the process of writing. Or while reading something seemingly unrelated, I would imagine.
As I say, I was laughing my head off at some of “professional emigrant” Walker’s recalled unique experiences as a long-time citizen of this Rock of Sages when, for no reason I can put my finger on, the phrase “women with balls” invaded my consciousness.
I couldn’t help wondering about who might’ve coined it? However, though my research is ongoing, still I’m ready to bet the author was not a woman. I suspect the vast majority are more than happy with the way they are constructed. The hard truth is that we are the ones who’ve always been obsessed with our genitalia, to the extent that what defines us is not our intellect, not our ability to express original ideas, not our accomplishments in the universally respected fields of endeavor: science, law, literature, architecture, medicine and so on.
By our own boastful accounts, what defines us males is not merely that we were born with a misplaced tail that many of us treat as some kind of concealed weapon for taming the savage breast, so to speak, or as a special gift from God that keeps on giving.
For most of us what truly matters is not the gift itself but its size. By that yardstick alone do many of us measure our masculinity. As if that were not in itself sufficiently self-demeaning and indicative of why even the better-educated among us so often carry on like the jackasses we secretly envy, if only for one reason, we have also taken to determining a woman’s worth, not by the content of her character or the several attributes peculiar to her gender and which easily render her testosterone-crazy judges inferior. Oh, no. What presumptuously we judge women by is their demonstrated ballsiness.
It is no small irony that women have without protest embraced the notion. To be spoken of as “a woman with balls,” even by self-appointed judges of ambiguous sexuality, has for too long been for too many women akin to a badge of honor. At the very least it is received as a backhanded compliment, a way of describing a no-nonsense woman that quite likely “wears the pants at home!”
More people know the late Heraldine Rock was a woman with balls than know about the precedents she established as the tough as nails politician that had brought the fearsome radical George Odlum to his knees at the height of his fame, with little help from her own party’s misogynists.
Rock stands out, for me, as one of a handful of local politicians who, when they addressed issues in parliament or from their campaign platforms, left no doubt about their gender. While she spoke up about the plight of her constituents generally, Ma Rock never forgot to address from a female perspective matters of particular importance to women.
She often addressed the suicidal stupidity of divisive fellow politicians. On several occasions while in government she publicly concurred with opposition views, only to be dismissed by her party colleagues as naive. As for the opposition, like her own party male-dominated, they made fun of her physicality, ignoring her pleas for unity in the best interests of the nation – more perpetuated stupidity, for which we continue to pay dearly.
Then there’s Lorraine Williams. As a magistrate, gender affairs minister and attorney general she made her mark as an outspoken advocate for gender equality, free expression and association. She famously criticized a fellow Cabinet minister for abusing his wife at gunpoint and in the presence of their two young sons. Doubtless all of that had contributed to her reputation as a woman with what only tough guys are supposed to have.
I need not go into the reasons that also qualify CSA president Mary Isaac and Bibiana Williams for women-with-balls honours. Their history is sufficiently current.
As if further to confuse the issue, men have by our own hand made it difficult for our gender to demonstrate such traits as compassion, kindness, tolerance, the ability to compromise for fear of appearing soft and, yes, feminine. God forbid a man should be caught shedding tears for whatever reason. It would appear that tears in a man’s eyes are as useful as his nipples.
Which reminds me: it has long been noted that all of us start in the womb as sexless little blobs. Depending on whether an embryo has a Y sex chromosome or two Xs, during week 7 it starts developing into a boy or a girl. That little mound of tissue, known as the genital tubercle, either opens to form two sets of labia and a clitoris, or it closes to make a penis and testicles. When viewed this way, the similarities between the private parts of male and female are obvious and have drawn comments since ancient Greek times.
Now here comes the shocker, taken from 50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know by Russ Kick: a penis is really a clitoris that has been pulled mostly out of the body and grafted on top of a much smaller piece of spongiosum containing the urethra. Writes Kick: “As much as I’d like to be known as the person who first realised that men have clits, the credit goes to psychologist-anatomist-sexologist Josephine Lowndes Sebely for first making this explicit in 1987.” Science writer Catherine Blackledge expanded on it in 2004 in her book Male Clits.
If indeed there is truth in the adage “don’t use it, you lose it,” then how long before men lose altogether the ability to relieve stress through tears?
How long before accumulated stress turns our testosterone-overloaded, frustrated and angry macho men turn into ticking time bombs ready go off at the slightest provocation?