When I attended my 50th high school reunion at Xavier H.S. in New York City, three years ago, I was reminded of the story of Jim Harmon’s bold request to me before the start of the second of my three varsity football games.
He had forgotten to bring with him the most important piece of equipment next to his helmet and that was the small plastic cup that would protect his manhood from any harm during the game with Cardinal Hayes High School, a known refuge for tough kids who would thing nothing of punching our starting center between his beefy legs during a play.
Reluctantly I agreed to do it. I was a team player and he was a starter. How could I refuse? I am not sure where we made the exchange which left me with little more than the anxiety of feeling vulnerable. I prayed that I would not get to play which was a pretty good bet since I did not play in our first game, nor would I ever play in a real game for Xavier.
Jim went on to distinguish himself, first at West Point and later on the bloody battlefields of Vietnam where he was awarded the Silver Star for valor, the nation’s second highest honor. You usually have to die to get the first one.
I doubt if he would remember my one little tiny act of valor, near the battlefields of Randall’s Island where he had played while I meekly watched the loss to Hayes.
Before my high school days I always felt uncomfortable when much more knowledgeable boys would make crude references to the anatomical difference of our female classmates in the schoolyard.
I was even more uncomfortable when they made similar references to our own bodies. Such crude terms for our genitals or other private areas roiled my sensibilities and usually left me in pure disgust.
A man’s body parts–the one’s I would have sacrificed for my football comrade—are part of the political lexicon. While the number of crude and vulgar references for that part of a man’s body are legion, the one that has made it to the ranks of America’s political debates is balls.
Technically this is a misnomer since their shape is closer to that of almonds. But that has no ring to it.
The schoolyard has now moved to the political arenas of the boardroom and the electoral campaign.
Today a man’s balls have become a household metaphor for power, authority, courage and all the aggressive tendencies that men have been publicly displaying since the Greeks held the first Olympics where all the athletes were nude.
What inspired me to write this essay on balls was an article that an e-pal sent me a few weeks ago. She is a very astute and modest person. If she felt no compunction in addressing this issue then it must have become perfectly mainstream.
Here’s the gist of the article’s content with the heading simply BALLS
It could easily be titled: Balls and the Games Men Play
1. The sport of choice for the urban poor is BASKETBALL.
2. The sport of choice for maintenance level employees is BOWLING.
3. The sport of choice for front-line workers is FOOTBALL.
4. The sport of choice for supervisors is BASEBALL.
5. The sport of choice for middle management is TENNIS And…
6. The sport of choice for corporate executives and officers is GOLF.
THE AMAZING CONCLUSION:
The higher you go in the corporate structure, the smaller your balls become. There must be a boat-load of people in Washington playing marbles.
And this has nothing to do with drugs. Just ask Barry Bonds.
The e-pal asked me what kind of sport the USCCB played.
To the uninformed that is the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops.
My response tried hard to convey both my respect for her and my personal discomfort with this subject. I told her that they played chess, a sport without any balls because they were according to their celibate vows, spiritual eunuchs.
I raise the question as to why and how a man’s balls or lack of have filtered into the political equation?
I might offer a few ideas in an attempt to explain my understanding of this rhetorical invasion of the body parts by looking to Sigmund Freud.
It was Dr. Freud who tried to explain women over a 100 years ago and their so-called Electra Complex, in wanting to kill their mothers and marry or at least have incestuous sex with their fathers.
He said that women suffered from Penis envy. I have run that term by several people and no one seemed to have ever heard of it.
For the record penis envy in Freudian psychoanalysis refers to the theorized reaction of a girl during her psychosexual development to the realization that she does not have a penis. Freud considered this realization a defining moment in the development of gender and sexual identity for women
While Freud was wrong about girls he might have accidentally nailed it with boys and men. According to Freud the parallel reaction in boys to the realization that women do not have a penis is castration anxiety.
So if Logic may have a moment it is not the penis that women envy but the battery pack below it that energizes him to climb mountains, sustain all kinds of physical deprivation, fight wars, race down fields and knock opponents senseless and within an inch of their lives.
Properly he should have called it Ball Envy.
I believe this is the kind of envy that prompted radical feminism and abortion on demand.
Like slavery the abortion issue was primarily an economic issue.
I remember the 1964 movie with Polly Bergen and Fred McMurry, Kisses for My President. The United States elects its first female President in the form of Leslie McCloud. She and her first gentleman, Thad, move into the White House with their daughter Gloria and son Peter.
Complications with her rule lead her to become pregnant and resign her office so she can spend more time with the family. This is how Hollywood wrote it but the understated truth is that being pregnant many times necessitates a woman leaving the workforce and staying home with her children.
This has become the worst of all possible worlds for feminists today.
The only way women can become equal with men is to neuter their sexual role in reproduction. As a result 50 million have died so that a woman can be economically competitive with men.
Hardly a war on women!
Phyllis Schlafly quotes a frustrated young man who left his wife because he did not want to be married to another man. Had his former wife grown a real pair?
This is refers to the term used by California mayor, Cameron Hamilton who made his declaration to victims of bullying while on the dais of the Porterville City Council in May.
Or had she just internalized the aggressive spirit so that everything they did became a competition?
I have seen this in my own life. I have met many women who would enjoy being called ballsy. They seem to think little about sacrificing their feminine spirit and integrity or what made them special if they could beat a man beating a man in the courtroom, boardroom or maybe some day on the football field.
What has this attitude done to traditional marriage?
Gay couples argue that it is heterosexuals who have destroyed the institution of marriage. They do have a valid point.
Most men don’t want to marry a woman who acts like a man. They have to fight it out everyday on the battlefields of work and life with men. They don’t want to continue the battle at home as well.
I think this explains why so many marriages fail and our society is in such shambles.
We have come a long way from the schoolyard that used to embarrass me. I now see and hear references to my manhood each and every day. Movies today are filled with men and women jesting about breaking the other’s balls.
Like it or not balls has transcended the schoolyard and now has become an established member of the political lexicon
All this makes me wonder what my life would have been if I had actually gotten into that game 54 years ago. Hopefully Mayor Hamilton was right and one can grow a pair.