Many scientists have ruminated over the strange anatomical fact that human testicles are external to the body, out there in the open where they can be kicked, banged, bruised, and bashed.
Most thoughtful people would expect that the testicles, or the “family jewels” as they are called in medicine, would be better protected than this. Women have their ovaries, their equivalent of the testicles, protected in their abdomen. Reproduction, after all, is supposed to be the most important function to maintain the species. Why aren’t testicles better protected?
Many other animals have internal testicles, including elephants, whales, seals, opossums, and more. It’s only some mammals, including primates, dogs, cats, cows, sheep, goats, and, of course, humans (which are a type of primate), who sport external testicles.
Some scientists have probed the origin of external testicles and have guessed that sperm needs to be cooler than body temperature, hence their needing an outside room with a view in the scrotum instead of being cloistered inside the body.
However, this theory doesn’t really make sense. Why would sperm need to be cooler? There is nothing inherent about sperm cells that requires cooler temperatures than body temperature. And since there are animals, including birds with high body temperatures, who have perfectly happy body-temperature sperm, it is not clear why there would be any need for cooler sperm.
If you think about it, the reason that sperm in external testicles like to be cooler is because they have to be able to perform their function in external testicles. It’s a chicken and egg issue with a clear solution. Balls come before sperm.
To put it differently, testicles need to produce sperm that thrives in the location and climate of the testicles. If it is a creature with internal testicles, then its sperm will be optimal at body temperature. External testicles need sperm that thrives at temperatures below body temperature. So we can’t explain external testicles based on the needs of sperm, but we can explain cooler sperm based on the external location of the testicles.
So we’re still left empty handed in our pursuit of the reason for having external nuts where they are easily cracked. If you were designing the human body from scratch, why would you ever want to place the scrotum and its contents on the outside of the body?
Perhaps a little animal husbandry can shed some light.
Sometimes, when you are raising animals, there are too many males. Testicles produce testosterone, the male sex hormone, which causes lots of physiological and psychological effects, including aggression and violence. This is more apparent during mating season, where males fight over females and can harm one another, and even harm the females in the process.
Farmers need to keep the male population under control. And an old and simple method for doing this, still used today, is castration.
For thousands of years, animal husbandry has relied on castration, which is remarkably simple to perform. Castrating a bull, for example, simply requires a tight rubber band around the base of the scrotum. This interferes with circulation, and over time the scrotum and all its contents wither and fall off, leaving less than a belly-button of a scar. The procedure can be done on any animal with hanging balls, and seems painless, according to reports from the animals.
Of course, the way we treat animals is often reflected in the way we treat people. And the simplicity of testicular removal has made castration a form of human male control over the millennia.
When a bull is castrated, he becomes a steer, or ox. When a ram is castrated, he becomes a wether. And when a human is castrated, he becomes a eunuch, and history shows people creating eunuchs for thousands of years B.C.E.
What happens to a man, or boy, when he is castrated? According to Psychologist Robert Martin, in Psychology Today,
“Castration after puberty, turning men into eunuchs, diminishes or completely eliminates the sex drive. Muscle mass, physical strength, and body hair are all typically reduced, and eunuchs are usually beardless. Breast enlargement is also common. In the most familiar example of castration to prevent cuckoldry, eunuchs have often been used as harem guards. Historically, however, eunuchs — seen as less likely to stir up unrest — were far more widely engaged as servants, military commanders and senior political officials.”
Castration was also done before puberty to help choir boys maintain their sweet, high voices. Called Castrati, these ball-less singers were the rage of high culture for hundreds of years, into the 20th century. Again, from Dr. Martin,
“(C)astration has also been carried out on young boys before puberty to prevent their voices from breaking. Early castration blocks the radical size increase in the larynx that otherwise produces the characteristic “Adam’s apple” of an adult man…Men castrated before puberty retain an unusual high-pitched singing voice broadly comparable to that of a soprano, mezzo-soprano, or contralto, but covering a strikingly wide range.”
So apparently, castration is a great way to make a reliable worker who can sing like an angel, is not aggressive, and can be trusted to not womanize. Sounds like a great thing to have on your job resume.
While there are clear social benefits of reduced male testosterone, including less violent crime, fewer sexual assaults, and more sopranos in the choir, there are also some biological benefits of castration. External testicles may be a product of natural selection, allowing for castration and, hence, male violence control.
In other words, being able to manage male aggression is beneficial to the social unit. While it will limit the ability for the castrated male to reproduce, the reduction of violence could be beneficial for overall reproductive success by society. In addition, society can decide on the best men to be allowed to reproduce, as farmers decide on the best males to allow to reproduce to improve their herd. Instead of culling the unwanted males, you can more humanely castrate them and allow them a full life, free of the cares and concerns about reproduction.
Of course, living in a civilized society that respects human rights, we can’t just castrate people society deems undesirable or too aggressive, although history has shown the abuse of castration. So what we need is a way to make castration seem desirable, so men actually ask for it. It’s not abuse if someone asks for it, is it? So the trick is getting them to want their nuts removed.
And many people already do. Doctors these days perform lots of castrations, which are called orchiectomies, although they don’t just tie off the scrotum like the farmers do. Instead, they surgically remove one or two testicles as a treatment for testicular cancer, and to prevent testosterone production since male sex hormone makes some other cancers worse. The procedure costs from $2,000 to $8,000. Some clinics occasionally offer a two-for-one special, so look for those before booking your castration.
Another popular use of castration is with the current craze for gender reassignment surgery. Transexuals who have been castrated are leading the way for a more peaceful, lower testosterone world.
All this castration, of course, has been made easier after years of promoting “fixing” one’s dog or cat. People who castrate their beloved pets know how much more peaceful they are afterwards. And if it’s good enough for Fido, then it’s good enough for Fred. (Note to self: will chipping of pets make it easier to chip people?)
Castration is therefore an important procedure to achieve social justice for gender dysmorphic males, to prevent cancer, and to make for a more peaceful world. Maybe we need more castrations as a way towards world peace?
Before you scoff at castration as a panacea, keep in mind that many boys are already circumcised for religious and/or alleged sanitary reasons, removing the foreskin of the penis. If the doctor is already there, why not go all the way and help your child become part of the new wave of peaceful men?
Of course, this works better with children, who are helpless, which is why childhood is when most circumcision is done. However, it may be a hard sell to get adult men to agree to castration, so let me leave you with one more fact that might convince them. Castrated males live longer. That’s true for eunuchs and for other castrated male animals.
All a man has to do to have a few more precious years of life is to cut off his balls. What’s easier than that?
So the next time you feel there is too much testosterone in those around you, ask them to consider castration. It’s easy and low-cost, it will help them live longer and more peaceful lives, and it will reduce the number of violent nuts in the world.