Balls!

 

“Balls!” said the Queen. “If I had them, I’d be King.” 

Reading my daily dose of pop fodder in the Guardian, one of several publications I read daily, I, of course, was drawn to the titles that aim to lure cheesy-lover readers like me: When it comes to sexual desirability, balls are often treated as an afterthought. Mike Barry has my admiration for a good writer’s trick–making something from nothing. 

Yes, it is interesting that testicles are often overlooked in the sexual realm. Most regard them as unlovely, on the modest side, to gross, on the other end of the spectrum of ball aesthetics. But really, what’s the point? They still get all the privileges and priorities that the patriarchy has offered their owners for all of recent history, which I consider since prehistoric times: power.

As Barry points out, balls are associated with guts and strength, ironically enough given their sensitivity and vulnerability; in fact, they are notoriously the target of anyone’s defense in warding off a male attacker or downing an opponent in a fight. Betty White (at least according to Facebook “facts”) publicly defended the vagina’s replacement for the myth of tough balls since the vag “takes a licking and keeps on ticking,” (pun intended) to steal a phrase from an old Timex commercial. With all the pounding of penises (real or replaced) and punishment of birthing its built for, female genitalia more appropriately earns the accolade, “She’s got vagina!”, to praise an individual’s chutzpah.

However, one paragraph gave me pause in Barry’s article:

I certainly never thought I could feel sexually empowered by my entire package until I met my now-husband: he was the first person to celebrate all parts of my body rather than avoid or ignore some of them. Being with someone who didn’t view half of my sex organs as extraneous to our sex life forced me to reevaluate my own view of my anatomy. As gay men, our sex life was already considered transgressive; without the pressure to conform to a “normal”, heterosexual view of male sexuality as defined by my ability to penetrate a partner, I could allow my entire self to become a source of sexual self-confidence.

The intrigue lies not in the observation that a loved one can appreciate all of his beloved’s parts, even the socially stigmatized or ignored ones–a banal truth, in my mind–but in exposing the underlying assumption of the socially constructed male: his genitalia is defined and evaluated in terms of its heterosexual penetrative utility, i.e., big penis=big satisfaction (vaginally speaking).

How freeing not to be heterosexual just for loosing that construction, opening up the space to heart-see a man’s body parts in light of how two people enjoy–actually experience–their relationship. 

Sigh. Is it ever possible to free ourselves from the prison of preconceived notions grown from lazy, unconscious pattern makers, our predecessors? 

Nope, it’s too nice outside on a Saturday of a three-day weekend to get my panties wadded up over long-standing social ills. I’d rather spend the time with my daughter succumbing to ad-men/women pitching holiday sales at us, like Victoria Secrets’ 7 for $27 panty sale (buys me another day ignoring the pile of laundry in my bathroom).

Seriously, I found this piece, Thirteen Problems with Balls in Cosmo, though not current, timeless and informative (yes, Cosmo!), far more balls up entertaining than Barry’s piece, despite the poignant heart-felt human connective moment referred to above. 

Enjoy!

The Name (Labeling) Game on a Throwback Thursday

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A facebook friend posted an article irresistibly intriguing about a wealthy, powerful Florida man, now deceased, who married two women and lived parallel lives, raising two families–the Cone and Carlson families–the children of which attended the same private school. Neither wife appeared to know of the other. The article about this apparent anomaly is brief and ends with the statement that the school’s baseball field is now named in the man’s (?) honor called the Carlson-Cone baseball field. That was the best part of the entire article for me, the irony. Was this town giving the dead guy a high five? Yeah man, you pulled it off. Let’s celebrate by honoring you with a dedicated space in the name of your bigamy. I love it.

This article has had me thinking for a couple of days into this labeling miasma I have created in my brain. So, this man would be considered a polygamist according to a relationship orientation and a bigamist according to a legal perspective. But what about his love for these two women, assuming that is the reason for his marrying and obtaining two wives (though he could be just a control freak and needed another woman and kids to own or a glutton for punishment or has way too much money and needed more tax write offs)? Is he polyamorous too? I am told it is human nature to label and not to fight it, so here I go.

Poking around the Internet, looking to tack the polyamory label to this Tampa polygamist, I found myself on encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com. Under the term polyamory, I found an explosion of labels to make my head spin and produce an urgent need to nap. We humans do love to catalog and diagram and chart and define–architects and archeologists all. I was amazed.

So as far as human relationships, there are the following:

Human sexuality and sexology
Sexual relationship
phenomena
Asexuality Bisexuality Casual relationship Casual sex Celibacy Committed relationship Free love Heterosexuality Homosexuality Involuntary celibacy One-night stand Polyamory Promiscuity Female promiscuity Romance (love) Sex life Sexual abstinence Sexual partner Single person
Sexual dynamics
Hermaphrodite Hypergamy Physical attractiveness Sexual attraction Sexual ethics

As to the taxonomy of gender identity, the encyclopedia offers this:

Gender and sexual identities
Gender identities
Gender
Male Female Androgyne Bigender Boi Cisgender Cross-dresser Genderqueer Girlfag and guydyke Intersex Pangender Transgender Trans man Trans woman Transexual Womyn
Third sex /
Third gender
Akava’ine Androgynos Bakla Bissu Burnesha Eunuch Fa’afafine Fakaleiti Femminiello Galli Hermaphrodite Hijra Kathoey Khanith Köçek Mahu Maknyah Mukhannathun Muxe Sworn virgin Takatāpui Third gender Transgender in China Transgender people in Singapore Transgender in film and television Transsexuality in Iran Travesti Tumtum Two-Spirit Winkte

Finally, sexual orientation is categorized thusly:

Sexual orientation
identities
Gender binary
Asexual Bisexual Heterosexual Homosexual
Non-binary
Ambiphilia, Androphilia, Gynephilia Pansexuality Polysexuality Third gender Two-Spirit
Other
Attraction to transgender people Banjee Bi-curious Ex-gay Ex-ex-gay Gay Heteroflexible Lesbian Kinsey scale Non-heterosexual Object sexuality Queer Questioning Pansexual Polyamorous Polysexual Romantic orientation Same gender loving

But wait, there’s more:

Bisexuality topics
Sexual identities
Bisexual Monosexual Pansexual Polysexual
History
Bisexual American history
Study
Innate bisexuality Journal of Bisexuality Kinsey scale Klein grid Human male sexuality
Attitudes
Biphobia Bisexual chic Bisexual erasure Lesbian until graduation
Bisexual community
American Institute of Bisexuality Bialogue BiCon (UK) BiFest BiNet USA Bisexual Resource Center Bisexual pride flag Bisexual Pride Day International Conference on Bisexuality New York Area Bisexual Network Bay Area Bisexual Network Transcending Boundaries Conference Media portrayals of bisexuality
Lists
Self-identified bisexual persons List of bisexuality-related organizations List of media portrayals of bisexuality
LGBT portal Sexuality portal
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) topics

Academic fields Discourse
LGBT topics in education Gender studies Lavender linguistics Lesbian feminism LGBT literature LGBT/Queer studies Queer theory Transfeminism

Community Culture
Anthems Bars Bisexual community Coming out Community center Drag king Drag queen Gay friendly Icons Lesbian utopia Literature Music Neighborhoods Organizations Periodicals Pride Pride parade Religious groups Rodeos Same-sex relationships Slang
List of slang
Slogans Sports Symbols Tourism
Category:LGBT culture

Gender identities Sexual identities
Gender identities
Male Female Androgyne Bigender Boi Cisgender Genderqueer Girlfag and guydyke Intersex Pangender Transgender Womyn
Third sex / Third gender
Akava’ine Eunuch Fa’afafine Fakaleiti Femminiello Hijra Kathoey Khanith Mahu Mukhannathun Muxe Bissu Two-Spirit Hermaphrodite
Sexual orientation identities
Sexual orientations
Asexual Bisexual Heterosexual Homosexual
Ex-gay Ex-ex-gay Pansexual Polyamorous Banjee Gay Lesbian Queer Same gender loving Non-heterosexual Object sexuality Questioning bi-curious heteroflexible
Related
Gender roles Human female sexuality Human male sexuality Sexuality and gender identity-based cultures

History
LGBT history
History of lesbianism LGBT history timeline Social movements History of Christianity and homosexuality History of same-sex unions Pederasty Category:LGBT history
LGBT pride flag
Pre-modern era
Adelphopoiesis Homosexuality in ancient Greece Homosexuality in ancient Rome Homosexuality in ancient Egypt Homosexuality in ancient Peru Homosexuality in medieval Europe
16th to 19th century
Mollies Urnings
20th century
Gay Liberation Homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust Inversion Sea queens Stonewall riots Festival of Light action White Night riots Queer theory
21st century
Same-sex marriage

Rights Legal issues
LGBT rights by country or territory
Africa Americas Asia Europe Oceania List of LGBT rights articles by region
LGBT rights topics
Adoption Civil unions and partnerships Hate crime laws Legal aspects of transsexualism Military service Parenting Same-sex marriage (Status Timeline) Socialism Sodomy laws United Nations/Yogyakarta Principles
LGBT rights movements
Gay Liberation LGBT rights groups LGBT rights activists

Sexual orientations – Medicine, science and sexology
Biology Birth order Demographics Environment Heterosexual–homosexual continuum Homosexuality and psychology Kinsey scale Klein Grid Mental roots Neuroscience Prenatal hormones Sexual orientation change efforts Sexual orientation identity Timeline of sexual orientation and medicine

Social attitudes Prejudice Violence
Social attitudes
Anti-LGBT slogans Heteronormativity Gay panic LGBT rights opposition LGBT stereotypes Religion and homosexuality Transgenderism and religion
Prejudice and discrimination
AIDS stigma Biphobia Genderism Heterosexism Homophobia Internalized homophobia Lesbophobia Non-binary discrimination Riddle scale SPLC-designated list of anti-gay U.S. hate groups Transphobia
Violence against LGBT people
Corrective rape Gay bashing History of violence in the UK History of violence in the US Significant acts of violence against LGBT people Trans bashing Unlawfully killed transgender people LGBT suicides

There appears to be an identity or an issue related to the loins and mind of every individual at any given moment in time. There are even ex ex gays. I don’t know. I couldn’t look them all up. Am I wrong to be frustrated with labels, to speak out against them? Are my compadres in the labeling game who tell me to relax, it’s human, the ones who know better? Clearly it is human to label. It is a compulsion, an obsession. We are taxonomists. We are analyzers of the world around us and to analyze is to break something down into its constituent parts in order to examine them. The term appears to be connotatively positive, somewhat synonymous to discovery and learning. However, to examine the parts of something is to destroy that something, dismantle it, break it down into parts from a whole constitution.

Perhaps that is my objection, the labeling of parts, and then carelessly taking a single part of a whole to represent a whole, reckless synecdoche. It hurts.

From a taxonomist’s point of view, Mr. Carlson-Cone cannot be classified as polyamorous. Polyamory, according to the encyclopedia, is based on consensual, ethical and transparent multi-loving:
Polyamory, often abbreviated as poly, is often described as “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.” The word is sometimes used in a broader sense to refer to sexual or romantic relationships that are not sexually exclusive, though there is disagreement on how broadly it applies; an emphasis on ethics, honesty, and transparency all around is widely regarded as the crucial defining characteristic.
Did he love both women?

I guess we will never know. But I thank him for this delightful delving into the inspirational art form of the label. Now let’s pause here to play the name game on this “Throwback Thursday.”