In one of my school textbooks, I found something interesting. It was an article that challenged the idea that men's genitals are what makes them powerful (J.B. Nelson, Body Theology p. 92-100). The author argued that men are only hard for a small percentage of the day. The rest of the time, their penises are small, soft, and vulnerable.
He also highlighted the absurdity of saying "he's got balls" as a way of saying "he's tough". If you think about it, it would seem that the positioning of the testicles is, evolutionally speaking, rather silly. Most of the time, what's between a guy's legs is more prone than powerful.
I'm not trying to insult men, I just thought this was just an interesting, new perspective.
It leads me to wonder, how can we help perpetuate a new sexual vocabulary? Do you folks know of any less male-dominated ways of describing sex? I've heard the act called "envelopment" (instead of "penetration"). Sometimes my boyfriend asks if I will "take him in".
I think it's helpful if we can find ways to stop describing men's genitals in such violent terms, and find ways to describe sex as powerful for both partners.
Language is what people make of it. I can see the reason that some women would want to use the word "envelopment", rather than penetration because it makes them active rather than passive. But then again, it makes the man passive. Ultimately though, I think that if a couple have an equal relationship the words they use to describe sex won't matter as much as whether or not they respect each others desires and wishes.
As for "he's got balls", perhaps associating toughness with the genitals is a little illogical, but no one ever said figures of speach were supposed to be logical. True, it's saying that one's toughness is related to one's gender, but the fact is that unless women want to make up a gender based toughness expression for themselves (Boy, does she have a womb! That girl must have quite a lot of ovaries!), it's going to stay that way.
Well in my family we have some "ballsy" women and my mom was wondering what could we use because we're not going to insult ourselves like that (taking the stance that males are inferior, which we were discussing in a playful way) so now we say "she's got BIG ovaries" coz hey! Our ovaries could kick the crap out of their testicals!
Yes, I'm quite familiar with the theories you're reading about, Rizzo. And you know, it's interesting stuff -- how sexism gets into the language in various different ways, some more logical than others.
Personally, I *do* use the phrase "she's got ovaries" instead of "she's got balls". I also talk about sexual things, colloquially, in ways that equalize the language a bit by playing with it: I talk about myself (female) "getting a hard-on" for someone/something, or talk about my penis-owning partner "getting premenstrual" (which he does, the same time I do).
It's useful to think about this stuff. BUt frankly, for me, it's more fun to play with people's expectations of the language than it is to get upset about it in any way.
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