Over the summer, the Italian Supreme Court determined in the case of Vittorio V. Alberto that it’s just seriously not cool for someone to tell a dude that he has “senza palle,” which -- at least according to Google Translate -- is Italian for “no balls.”
According to Judge Maurizo Fumo, “…The expression definitely…has an injurious quality. It refers not only to the target’s lack of virility, but also to his weakness of character, lack of determination, competence and coherence -- virtues that, rightly or wrongly, are still identified as pertaining to the male gender.”
It’s nice that he threw the “rightly or wrongly” in there, because it at least acknowledges that the rationale for this association is “cazzo stupido” (“fucking stupid”). There is nothing specifically “maschio” (“male”) about any of those noble attributes and—just as importantly—none of them have anything at all to do with the presence or size of one’s “cojones” (“cojones”).
Speaking as one of the few xoJaner’s who has first-hand, uninterrupted, 24/7 access to a pair of “uomo prugne” (“man plums”), I can honestly say I’ve never put that much thought into them. They’ve always just sort of been there, sitting under my “pene” (I think you can figure that one out), occasionally sweating more than I’d like in the summer (Gold Bond is a miracle worker) and disappearing up into my body -- like two little hibernating bears -- in the long cold winter.
During the rare times in my life when I have done something brave, potentially dangerous or just plain awesome, I’ve never looked down at them and offered up a grateful “Thanks guys!” because -- and I admit this may sound controversial -- I was the one who did those things. My balls were just along for the ride.
Truthfully, though, this silly association of strength and character with human anatomy wouldn’t bother me so much, were it not for the fact that it inherently means associating the female anatomical alternatives with frailty and cowardice. In the English language, you’re actually more apt to be called a “pussy” or even -- by a slightly classier form of douche -- a “vagina” for exhibiting the sort of traits believed to come from having “no balls.” (“Vulva” -- for whatever reason -- seems to have gotten a free pass. So, that’s something, I guess.)
Many folks who use these terms in this way will undoubtedly insist that they’re not being literal and that they know plenty of “ballsy” women who walk around with a honorary pair of testes in whatever kind of underwear they favor, but that doesn’t stop the fact that we’re still associating specifically positive traits as being male in nature. It doesn’t require that much feminist enlightenment to instantly identify why this is fucked up.
There’s nothing wrong with venerating the qualities of “determination, competence and coherence,” so long as we can all recognize that everyone is capable of exhibiting them, regardless of what they’re working below the waist. It’s hurtful and wrong to use language that supports the idea that men are somehow instantly gifted with these traits thanks to the dangly bits they often feel compelled to scratch in inopportune situations.
That said, I refuse to be someone who insists on tearing down a popular cultural institution without offering up a smart and sensible alternative. My goal is always to build up, never destroy!
For that reason, it occurs to me that what we have to do is begin associating these qualities with a specific part of the human anatomy that both sexes share. After putting much time and effort into the subject and undergoing an extensive series of computer simulations made possible by certain think tanks located deep in the San Fernando Valley, I think I have found the perfect body part.
Nearly everyone is born with at least two of them, but until now at least 50 percent of us have been carrying them around for no discernable reason. If they can’t have a practical purpose for everyone, why not give them a symbolic one? It’s no less random than associating these traits with a pair of wrinkly meatballs primarily designed to produce semen and testosterone. All we have to do is start working it into our everyday conversation. Here are some good examples:
“Did you see the new Jason Statham movie? That guy is so cool. I swear he must have the biggest nipples in the universe.”
“I hope Elizabeth Warren kicks Scott Brown’s ass in the Massachusetts’ senate race. She has the nipples it takes to go against those Republican motherfuckers.”
“I can’t believe (some sports guy) choked liked that in the last three minutes of the game. I don’t think he has the nipples you need to be a champ.”
“Did you see what Lady Gaga wore to that awards show last night? I definitely don’t have the nipples to wear something like that out in public!”
See! It’s easy. If all of us start doing this, we can make it happen! Until then, we all have to remember that the next time we travel to Italy, it’s better to tell an asshole he “ha il cervello di un asino” (“has the brain of a donkey”) than to make any reference to whatever he does or does not have inside his pants.