Monday, May 17, 2004

Book of Y

Finally culled my notes from Steve Jones's Y: The Descent of Men. Accessible and often funny, it's loaded with strange factoids about sexuality. Here are a fraction:

After the 100-year war, German states legalized polygamy due to the shortage of men. Within a generation, the male/female ratio was back up and monogamy restored. Contrary to the claims of the people who want to ban gay marriage, it's not acceptance of same-sex couples that leads to polygamy—it's war.

Stanislawa Walasiewics, winner of gold and silver medals in 100 meter dash in the 1932 and 1936 Olympics, was shot to death in Cleveland during a robbery in the 1980s. The medical examiner discovered that she had internal testicles which almost certainly helped her strength training. Walasiewics was not the only athlete in the women's games with XY chromosomes. Hermann Ratjen, of the Nazi Youth Groups, placed fourth during the games, competing as "Dora."

In Victorian England a woman with XY chromosomes and slowly changing male, was locking up in an insane asylum. Doctors blamed her growing penis on "delusions," insisting it would go away if she would only think proper thoughts.

Why you should never kick an elephant between the legs. It's futile—their testicles never descend from the body like humans and dogs. In other animals like mice, they can go in or out depending on temperature and other conditions. Despite what Ian Fleming said in You Only Die Twice, humans can't do this.

Michelangelo's David has an uncircumcised penis about the size of his thumb. The replica in Caesars Palace has been upgraded.

An old Jewish belief states that Abraham does not allow circumcised Jews into hell. However, to thwart the sinners, he takes the foreskins from children who die young, puts them on the sinners, and sends them down.

On the other hand, in ancient Rome, a mother who had her son circumcised was garrotted and hung from a cross with her dead baby tied around their neck.

All mammals (at least male mammals) have a type of foreskin.

A man who was circumcised as an adult claimed that it made sex seem like a movie going from color to black and white. You'll never think about the end of The Wizard of Oz the same way.

Globally about 700,000 men are circumcised. It was unheard of in Korea until the arrival of Americans in the Korean Conflict. Now 90% of Korean boys are circumcised, many as teens.

In U.S. circumcision rates are down from 90% in 60s to about 50% today (less in blacks and lower class). Only about 20% of British are cut but they included the royalty until Princess Di refused to have it done to her boys.

Some claim that circumcision reduce the risk of penile cancer (and medical evidence suggests that this might be so) but for every death due to penile cancer, there are 250 to breast and ovarian cancer. No one suggests ritualistic mastectomies or hysterectomies for girls or even for adult women past child-bearing age. Sweden restricts circumcision on grounds that it does not maintain informed consent.

No comments: