“When you think about it, it does seem a little odd to associate testicles with courage.”

This is a comment by wellokaythen on the post “Are Husbands Really Assholes? Or Do Their Wives Just Think They Are?

wellokaythen said:

“When I think about the metaphor, it does seem a little odd to associate testicles with courage. (I don’t think it’s offensive or sexist, necessarily, or if it is, then you have to pick your battles, and this seems like a pretty trivial battle to me.)

“Maybe if testicles were things that males only got when they got older, instead of things a (cis-)boy is born with, it would work better. But, little boys have testicles, too, so it seems strange to associate them with bravery. I’m sure that if I were ever in a combat situation, I would curl up into a fetal ball and wet myself, clutching and dampening the very scrotum that’s supposed to be a symbol of my bravery.

“I’ve always liked ‘spine’ as a better body metaphor for courage.” 

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  1. I think the association comes from the fact that the testicles are extremely sensitive to trauma and pain AND are relatively easy to access. With that in mind we all know that being considered a “real man” centers around not admitting weakness and all that. Well what better test of that is there than to be able to hand trauma and pain in one of the most sensitive of all body parts. (And not only are the testicles sensitive but it is quite frankly socially acceptable to attack them.)

    • wellokaythen says:

      That makes a lot of sense, except that when you have a lot of courage, you have invulnerable balls, not vulnerable ones. When you’re brave, they’re made of brass or some other durable material. When you’re brave, people don’t say you have big, soft, squishy balls, they say you have brass ones.

      • But – Having balls that are as hard as brass indicates a medical emergency!

        Could it be that some are confusing the trope of men being afeared of going to the doctor with something else? P^)


      • That makes a lot of sense, except that when you have a lot of courage, you have invulnerable balls, not vulnerable ones.

        But the implication is that the guy in question didn’t start with that invulnerability. No they were vulnerable at one time but through work and effort he fought through the vulnerability. So when you’re brave they are saying that your balls were sensitive and weak but you did something to overcome that and they are tough and brass and big.

        It seems to me that when associating testicles with courage its a matter of something that is normally weak and sensitive overcoming the odds and coming out tough for it in the long run.

      • Maybe it derives from the idea that you act as though they were brass? Courage stems from risking oneself?

  2. John Smith says:

    Testicles, spine, whatever, the question should be why we are so obsessed with the idea that the only right way to be a man is to be hyper aggressive and never back down.

  3. Not really, lack of testicles for a man would leave him without testosterone of the same level so before Hormone treatment it may have made eunuchs less aggressive n courageous?

  4. “I’ve always liked ‘spine’ as a better body metaphor for courage.”

    That’s just abelism disguised as a clever way to dodge gender. The disabled are oppressed enough without having to be further oppressed for the linguistic convenience of the “gender is the only issue” brigade and the “my genitals require more consideration than yours” bunch.

    Leave Spines and other body parts out of it! P^)

    And I’m afraid that being chromosomally male and having no testicles is by definition a disability – so I have to wonder why some insist on using Faux Disability as a verbal weapon to abuse others. Anyone says you lack balls round me gets called out on Abusing Disability and Viewing Disabled people as second class. Funny how it gets so many having to suddenly watch their language.

    I do have an unfair advantage though – My Crutches come with inbuilt logical Tasers of unlimited voltage.

    • wellokaythen says:

      I appreciate what you’re saying. I hadn’t thought about it in terms of able-ism. You’re right, it does presume some things.

      A question, though: are there actually any people who have no spines at all? Doesn’t everyone have a spine of some kind?

      • What is the smilie for I’m being Grossly Ironic! P^)

        I keep forgetting Poes law “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.”

        Some folks even make themselves silly (not implying you) when they try to make capitol out of using the ironic becasue they believe it supports or furthers their Tropes and Embunkered Positions! It’s like false friends in language translation – sounds good enough – even seems to be what is required – but it has all the wrong meanings. It can get more than comical. P^)

  5. “When I think about the metaphor, it does seem a little odd to associate testicles with courage . . .” Try growing some balls, then. [Is he a) kidding, b) not kidding. You decide.]

  6. Jonathan G says:

    You find it odd to associate testicles with courage? How sad that metaphoric language confuses you. My muscular, hollow, four-chambered circulatory organ goes out to you. ;)

  7. wellokaythen says:

    Yes, I admit I was totally overthinking all this. There’s supposed to be a vas deferens between metaphor and reality…. : – )

  8. Steers are made because bulls fight too much to wrangle easily ( and for taste) , Geldings are preferable to stallions as they are less aggressive. We neuter dogs for similar reasons, we don’t get them vasectomies. Men fight, physically, more than women do….
    So why is the connection between gonads & courage curious?

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