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Old 04-11-2006, 11:24 PM
aelfric aelfric is offline
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Eunuchs

I recently saw the subject of eunuchs come up twice - in a front page article in the Philadelphia City Paper, and in Dan Savage's advice column. Both were talking about men who voluntarily underwent castration - in some cases, the men in question attempted to perform it on themselves. Dan Savage's column, in particular, mentioned what the men would permanently give up - including sex and orgasms.

Now, I know that the testes produce testosterone, which in turn produces sex drive. But I want to know if men who lose their testes lose ALL desire for sex? And further, do they also lose the ability to have orgasms? It would seem not - transsexuals who undergo sex reassignment surgery lose their testes, but still enjoy sex, don't they? Do they still have orgasms? Can they?

So the question is - just what are the permanent effects of losing one's testes (to castration, cancer, whatever reason)? Can you still function sexually? Respond if someone wants you to have sex with her? Get erections, have orgasms?

Were the eunuchs who guarded the harmems a thousand years ago considered safe because they had no sexual interest in the women, or rather because they could not impregnat them? (Were they really having sex on the sly with the harems without the sultans catching on, or perhaps caring?)

For that matter, the stereotypical portrayal of someone without (or with injured) testes is a high-pitched voice, but I know that comes from boys being castrated to preserve their singing voices, prior to adolesence. What happens if your voice has already changed - is testosterone necessary to keep the manly pitch of your voice, or do the vocal chords tighten up if the hormone isn't there? Could you tell by a man's voice that he lost his testes to injury or illness, or would it be unchanged if the loss happened in adulthood?
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Old 04-11-2006, 11:45 PM
outlierrn outlierrn is offline
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the master speaks

http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a4_212.html
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Old 04-12-2006, 12:27 AM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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I've actually researched eunuchs a lot in my past. They've always fascinated me, particularly the Byzantine eunuchs (who numbered in the tens of thousands just in Constantinople at one point). There's actually more research into eunuch sexuality (even in the ancient and medieval world) than you might think.

The two most important factors in eunuch sexuality are

1- at what age did the man became a eunuch?
2- how much was cut off?

We tend to think of eunuchs as "testicular eunuchs"- men who've had their testicles and nothing more removed- but in some societies they went all the way and removed part or even all of the penis as well. The mortality rates for this procedure were extremely high. In ancient Greece and Rome (where the extreme form of castration was usually reserved for punishment or [I'm not being racist, just reporting fact] black Africans) and in China (where at times this was the standard form of eunuch) anywhere between 1 in 4 to half died during or shortly after the procedure and those who emerged were asexual due to the lack of testosterone and, frankly, the pain involved in any form of sexual activity.

Testicular eunuchs, who constituted most of the Byzantine caste and all of the castrati (save for those who had more removed for medical reasons) the age was the determining factor. The castrati who were castrated after the onset of puberty actually included many notorious womanizers (particularly Farinelli). Supposedly sexually capable eunuchs can hold an erection longer [timewise] than the average man because there is no ejaculation to bring immediate climax and this, coupled with the 0% chance of impregnation and often androgynous features, made them very desirable as lovers.

Those who were castrated in early childhood were far less sexual, though not necessarily asexual. They usually had tiny penises, though they did still undergo a lesser form of puberty as their adrenal glands produced more testosterone than they otherwise would have (though nowhere near as much as the testicles produce). While it's been a low-brow comedy standard for literally thousands of years to portray these men as having extremely high pitched voices this wasn't necessarily true- those castrated before puberty tended to sound more childlike but not like high voiced women.

Both the pre and post puberty eunuchs were often used as sex toys by men which led to the myth that they were predominantly homosexual. While certainly some were most were heterosexually inclined or, for those castrated in infancy or early childhood, mostly asexual. (In Byzantium there were many infant castrations ranging from Emperors who wanted to invalidate their illegitimate sons from succession to peasants who wanted their son to enter the civil service and aid the family financially.)

A psychological trait that seems true of eunuchs was that while not as agressive as the average man they did tend towards greed. Many eunuchs were notoriously power mad (Bagoas [not Alex the Great's squeeze but a predecessor of the same name] usurped the throne of Persia from Darius II; numerous Byzantine eunuchs grew fabulously wealthy; the eunuchs at the Chinese imperial court famously robbed the last few emperors blind). For this reason eunuchs were forbidden from officially holding power, though some found loopholes (e.g. John the Orphan Master, a peasant castrated in young adulthood along with 3 of his brothers for their father's crime- he maneuvered his studmuffin peasant born kid brother [who was spared castration] into the bedchamber of Empress Zoe [who was three times his age], helped them murder Zoe's ancient husband, established his brother as Michael IV and then ruled while little brother dedicated his time to keeping the empress happy and descent into health problems; one of his brothers advanced their peasant nephew in a similar fashion). This is one reason that eunuchs could not inherit titles or officially hold offices, though they could do most everything else in Byzantium; Narses the Eunuch was one of the civilization's greatest generals and several very high ranking priests and archbishops were eunuchs [ironic since the Bible forbids the eunuch to enter the temple]).

Eunuchs could not marry in almost any culture, though many kept concubines. The castrati had it the worst- they couldn't marry, become priests/monks, hold official or elected office other than musically, and for many of them their voices crashed soon after their surgery which left them without testicles or voice or prospects. An irrelevant aside about the castrati: it was noticed in the 15th century or before that children with pleasant voices would often keep the voice indefinitely if castrated, but it was against the law to castrate a child for this purpose. When a plague of mumps caused many boys to be castrated many of them found careers in the church choirs and the demand for them grew, and while it remained illegal to castrate a child just because he had a beautiful voice there was a huge traffic in treating "illnesses" and "accidents" that created thousands and thousands of castrati each year- supposedly in one year alone 2000 boys were castrated just in Rome as treatment for being gored by hogs [nudge nudge wink wink]- the potential riches were just too much for poor families to pass up (and you thought Jackie Coogan and Brooke Shields had nasty stage mothers!).

Sorry, I seem to have digressed, but the point is that eunuchs castrated after the onset of puberty were usually capable of sex or something like it. They did get erections (so long as nothing else was damaged in the operation) and climax and have sexual urges. Those castrated very young varied but on the whole were much less likely.

And if you'd like to hear a castrati you can do so here . This is a recording of Alessandro Moreschi, the last surviving castrato in the papal choir. He really was castrated for medical reasons (castrati were out of fashion musically by the time he was born) and is believed to be the only one ever recorded. The recording ain't that great, but remember that it was made using 1904 technology and a middle aged man who wasn't considered anywhere near the greatest of the castrati, but it's still a haunting sound.
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Old 04-12-2006, 01:09 AM
cerberus cerberus is offline
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from here

Quote:
Production in the Body

This important hormone is produced mainly in the testes in males (more than 95 percent) and in the ovaries in females; however, small amounts are made in the outer layer of the adrenal glands in both sexes. The process that carefully regulates the amount and timing of testosterone production is complex and begins in the brain. When a man feels aroused or successful, the cerebral cortex, the most sophisticated area of the brain, sends a signal to another part of the brain called the hypothalamus to stimulate the production of testosterone. The hypothalamus is an area at the base of the brain that regulates much of the body's hormonal activity. It does this by sending chemical signals to the pituitary gland, a cherry-sized organ that produces a wide variety of hormones involved in the regulation of growth, thyroid function, blood pressure, pregnancy, birth and other critical body functions.
Perhaps the small amount of adrenal testosterone is sufficient to enable sex drive in a testicularly castrated, post-pubescent male?
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Old 04-12-2006, 10:06 AM
Mr. Slant Mr.  Slant is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampiro
SNIP
. . . . Narses the Eunuch was one of the civilization's greatest generals and several very high ranking priests and archbishops were eunuchs [ironic since the Bible forbids the eunuch to enter the temple]).
SNIP
Without starting a religious debate, did the Bible explain why eunuchs were forbade temple entrance?
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Old 04-12-2006, 10:19 AM
Malacandra Malacandra is offline
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Originally Posted by Mr. Slant
Without starting a religious debate, did the Bible explain why eunuchs were forbade temple entrance?
Broadly speaking, it was a question of not offering God damaged goods, either as servants or as sacrifices (the same section makes it clear that you are to offer God the pick of the crop, flock or herd). FWIW, it wasn't all one-way traffic, 'cos God also promised that as long as his laws were kept, Israel would have cattle and flocks and grain in abundance, to eat, lend and give away as they liked.
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Old 04-12-2006, 10:26 AM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Slant
Without starting a religious debate, did the Bible explain why eunuchs were forbade temple entrance?
They weren't forbade temple entrance. Eunuchs just couldn't serve as priests/offer sacrifices as priests, and neither could anyone with any other physical deformity (the blind, the lame, dwarfs, hunchbacks, etc).

It's from Leviticus 21:16-23.
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Old 04-12-2006, 10:33 AM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
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Sampy, all that info is great! I've always been curious, too. Thanks.
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Old 04-12-2006, 10:34 AM
OneCentStamp OneCentStamp is offline
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Originally Posted by Sampiro
The recording ain't that great, but remember that it was made using 1904 technology and a middle aged man who wasn't considered anywhere near the greatest of the castrati, but it's still a haunting sound.
Wow. Your whole post was well written and interesting, but thanks in particular for sharing this link. It sounded nothing like I expected a castrato to sound (I, like most people, figured it would sound like a guy singing falsetto). After about five seconds of his singing I was thinking shit, this sounds awful, and next thing you know I had goosebumps on my arms.
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Old 04-12-2006, 11:30 AM
FlyingRamenMonster FlyingRamenMonster is offline
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Yeah, I have that mp3 on my hard drive to settle "Hah, you think THAT's bad singing?" contests with friends, family and internet freaks.

4 wins, 1 loss. Not bad.

Eunuchs in charge of harems (the ones who still had their penises, that is) were known to have affairs with the women there. Problem was, if they were discovered, both parties would likely be killed. That probably kept the practice from gaining too much popularity.
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Old 04-12-2006, 01:03 PM
alimarx alimarx is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Slant
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampiro
SNIP
. . . . Narses the Eunuch was one of the civilization's greatest generals and several very high ranking priests and archbishops were eunuchs [ironic since the Bible forbids the eunuch to enter the temple]).
SNIP

Snip, snip?
Must you be so graphic?
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Old 04-12-2006, 01:58 PM
CC CC is offline
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Jeez, it takes balls to sing like that Moreschi guy.
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Old 04-12-2006, 04:01 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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This is probably evidentiary of nothing, but I'll mention it anyway. When my grandfather was 86 he had to have his testicles surgically removed due to a growth on his prostate. He became the most sexually obsessed old man I'd ever known (not that he was exactly a prude on the subject before) and reminisced constantly, sometimes in graphic detail, about his sex life for his remaining few weeks (he had been sexually active since he was a teenager and was a habitual adulterer for most of his marriage [with his wife's consent]) and told me stories about his first encounter with oral sex (WW1 France), the sexually explicit real story behind his nickname (Mustang, which we'd always heard was because "I was a wild little boy so they said 'He's wild as a mustang!'- nah ah), went on and on about how much he'd like to bed Cher one night while she was on the Carson show, etc.. I honestly think that his death shortly after the surgery was in large part because he honestly didn't want to live as a eunuch (and in fact initially refused the surgery even though not to have it would have meant death).

On a totally different subject, one of my favorite scenes in The Last Emperor is when the eunuchs are expelled from the palace and as they leave they each take with them jars. When the emperor asks his tutor what's in them he's told, of course, "Their organs, so that they can be whole men at their funeral" (or words to that effect).
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Old 04-12-2006, 04:14 PM
Rune Rune is offline
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Narses was made eunuch after a childhood accident. Wasn’t there made a difference between those were made eunuchs by accident and those on purpose?

Since so many died of the procedure, eunuch slaves must have been considerable more expensive. What was the great value the Byzantines saw in eunuchs that they were willing to pay a higher price for them? Especially since they were (and are) also at the same time pretty much universally despised. At least few people despised eunuchs as much as the original Romans. Not that there was much Roman spirit left in Byzantine.
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Old 04-12-2006, 07:56 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rune
What was the great value the Byzantines saw in eunuchs that they were willing to pay a higher price for them?
Being a eunuch automatically made one ineligible to hold certain posts and offices, plus being sterile they weren't able to leave an office to their son, so supposedly the threat of usurpation was less. This didn't always work out: some eunuchs were content to just enrich themselves or their friends and relatives (siblings, nephews, etc.), but since they couldn’t hold the office themselves usually they did have to keep their patron since they couldn't hold the office themselves so that was a sort of insurance policy I suppose.

It was also believed that with no sex drive the eunuchs would work harder. This may or may not have been true. I’ve certainly known lazy celibate people and really productive alleycat people, so-

Then of course as household servants you could be sure they wouldn’t be impregnating your wife and daughters. There may be some chance (discussed above) they might have sex with them, but that’s better than the woman having an affair with another man (which eunuchs were NOT considered- they were neither male nor female by law). Plus, attractive eunuch slaves were used, quite unapologetically, as sex-toys. Beautiful androgynous eunuch fetched a huge amount in ancient Greece, Persia and Rome. Several Roman emperors (including Augustus and Tiberius) had a fondness for them and of course Alexander the Great had his Persian Boy. Sex with a eunuch was also looked upon as slightly more “manly” than sex with another man.

Quote:
At least few people despised eunuchs as much as the original Romans. Not that there was much Roman spirit left in Byzantine.
Yes, they were loathed by many. I would imagine it was something akin to homophobia or racism today (I wonder if they referred to it as a “lifestyle choice”?) and the rights of eunuchs fluctuated from era to era. They were consistently forbidden to marry since (by perception) they were neither male nor female (though they were referred to with masculine articles in some languages) but many did have marriage like relationships. In the movie Farinelli, the title character’s brother impregnates Farinelli’s girlfriend as a favor, which is actually based on a less famous castrato who had such a relationship.

As for how Roman the Byzantines were, they definitely referred to themselves as Roman, but they did so in Greek. So... argument either way.
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Old 04-13-2006, 09:55 AM
Marine_One Marine_One is offline
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Wouldn't it be cool if a bunch of Eunuchs were hired by a computer company and used UNIX?

I wonder if that has ever happened???? Wow...would that be neat or what??
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Old 04-13-2006, 12:12 PM
dogbutler dogbutler is offline
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Originally Posted by Marine_One
Wouldn't it be cool if a bunch of Eunuchs were hired by a computer company and used UNIX?

I wonder if that has ever happened???? Wow...would that be neat or what??
Already done in Dilbert:

Boss: "My boss says we need some eunuch programmers."
Dilbert: "I think he means UNIX and I already know UNIX."
Boss: "Well, if the company nurse comes by, tell her I said never mind."
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Old 04-13-2006, 07:07 PM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is offline
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Originally Posted by Sampiro
And if you'd like to hear a castrati you can do so here . This is a recording of Alessandro Moreschi, the last surviving castrato in the papal choir. He really was castrated for medical reasons (castrati were out of fashion musically by the time he was born) and is believed to be the only one ever recorded. The recording ain't that great, but remember that it was made using 1904 technology and a middle aged man who wasn't considered anywhere near the greatest of the castrati, but it's still a haunting sound.
Haunting? Right this minute I find it impossible to think of anything except Grover from Sesame Street.
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Old 04-13-2006, 08:45 PM
Throatwarbler Mangrove Throatwarbler Mangrove is offline
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This little snippet(heh) in hanzimatters prompted me to do some further research into the exact physiological effects of castration, and I must admit that, assuming modern surgical technology has eliminated most of the risk, it doesn't sound like such a bad idea. I'm not particularly keen of fathering my own children, since I think there are already too many unhappy children in the world (I would adopt if I didn't hate the little buggers), so the idea of both a reduced sex drive, more androgynous features, possibly longer lasting, more enjoyable and pregnancy-free sex, and a much lower risk of many male diseases such as prostrate and testicular cancer makes it pretty darn attractive proposition. The only thing that currently turns me off castration would be the reduction in physical strength. Sorry, but I'd like to be able to change my own tire.

There is also a "trial version" in the form of chemical castration, as often used in somestates on sex offenders. I imagine anyone who shares my opinion and doesn't mind losing their muscles would do well to give it a try. I can't see a downside!
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Old 04-13-2006, 11:18 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Originally Posted by kawaiitentaclebeast
I can't see a downside!
Not having balls would probably be it. There's just something about them- symmetrical, so perfectly weighted- the way they eclipse each other in a certain lighting and the way you can dress them up and draw little Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson faces on them and pretend they're singing a duet wh...

Never mind.

Another advantage is you don't have to shave as often. Those castrated young are a lot more limber as well, which offsets some for the lack of muscle mass. It is odd that when they rattle off the many advantages to having a pet neutered that they don't take it to the next extension isn't it?
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Old 04-13-2006, 11:29 PM
Throatwarbler Mangrove Throatwarbler Mangrove is offline
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I didn't think you would need to shave at all, and I think it would also basically eliminate acne and hair loss, two issues that have been a thorn in my side for years. I am completely serious when I say that there is only one thing stopping me from going ahead with it(well, aside from medical costs). You should see the faces of my male friends when I bring it up in polite conversation. I've had no luck convincing them of the benefits or to join me though. Perhaps one day I will make myself useful to the SDMB and start an "ask the castratii" thread?
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Old 04-13-2006, 11:34 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Originally Posted by kawaiitentaclebeast
I didn't think you would need to shave at all, and I think it would also basically eliminate acne and hair loss, two issues that have been a thorn in my side for years. I am completely serious when I say that there is only one thing stopping me from going ahead with it(well, aside from medical costs). You should see the faces of my male friends when I bring it up in polite conversation. I've had no luck convincing them of the benefits or to join me though. Perhaps one day I will make myself useful to the SDMB and start an "ask the castratii" thread?
Plus, it's a lot harder to climb onto the comet when you've got those balls weighting you down.
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Old 04-13-2006, 11:53 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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Today's vocabulary word:

Orchiodectomy.
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Old 04-14-2006, 12:09 AM
Throatwarbler Mangrove Throatwarbler Mangrove is offline
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What do female dopers think of all this? Would you go for a willowy Orlando Bloom type with a soft voice, clear skin, full head of hair, a gentle disposition who can keep it up all night with no chance of accidental pregnancy?

Although I suppose with the reduced sex drive, I'd be too busy curing cancer and conquering the world to concern myself with trifles the likes of you.
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Old 04-14-2006, 12:21 AM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johanna
Orchiodectomy.
Somehow I'm imagining you as a Laugh-In go-go dancer who when the music stops says that into the camera (before the screen cuts to Arte Johnson).

I won't speculate as to the accuracy of the following statement but I will give a cite below the quote:

"The ancient Greeks...used castration only to punish rapists, and the offender was called a spao, meaning "to draw out" or "drag". Despised in Greek society and denied employment, such men are said to have masqueraded as women- the origin of the slang expression "drag" for a man in woman's attire."

Panati, Charles. Panati's Extraordinary Endings of Practically Everything and Everybody. New York: Harper & Row, 1989. (p. 294)

Panati also states that ancient Romans used the following terms to refer to the types of eunuchs:

thlibio- a man whose testicles have been crushed between stones as a punishment (not technically a eunuch as he may have testicles but they're just dessicated and destroyed)

spandone- the concubine class, these were men whose testicles had been surgically removed

castrato (NOT to be confused with the later definition above, who were spandone by Roman definition)- men whose genitals (testicles and all or part of the penis) had been removed.

In reference to Cæsar Augustus's love of spandone as playthings and how it led to rumors about his own masculinity.

Quote:
Once, when he was attending a play, an actor spoke a line about a favorite eunuch beating a tamborine- "Videsne ut Cinaedus orbem digito temperet?" ("Do you see how this queen's finger beats the orb?") ("beats the orb" meaning "governs the world")- and the knowledgeable audience immediately glanced toward the royal box and burst into wild applause, to which Octavius bowed. {Panati 295}
One thing that is known: the reason that beards were extremely fashionable among Greeks and Hebrews and other residents of the eastern Meditteranean had to do somewhat with the fact eunuchs were despised. Clean shaven men = eunuchs = weak/fey/feminine while beards = all men = powerful. There were some early depictions of Christ as a clean shaven youthful looking man but all Byzantine artists depicted him bearded due to the prevalence of eunuchs in their society and the religious desire not to confuse him with one.
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Old 04-14-2006, 07:19 AM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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That was called "getting a word in edgwise." Just kidding, thanks to you. Sampiro, I have learned twice as much about the subject in one time than I'd learned in my life until now.

MTF transsexuals take a testosterone suppressor like Spironalactone as part of HRT; I wonder if that's what they mean by chemical castration. Orchiodectomy is one step on the way to sexual reassignment surgery, and may be done first separately, once one has decided that one is done with testosterone for life, then no more need for those Spiro pills. The Greek roots of the word are: orchi- 'testicles' ek- 'out' -tomy 'cutting'. Valerie Solanas would like that...
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Old 04-14-2006, 08:52 AM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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I meant testosterone blocker, not suppressant. Two different concepts, I think. With a blocker the balls still make it, but it doesn't stick to receptors or something.

Moreschi's voice consistently fell apart on the low notes--he went off-key and croaky-- but soared beautifully on the high notes. If the practice is ever revived, textbooks on orchestration should take note of this, to avoid the low range of castrati and make them sing in their upper range. "Ave Maria" has a wide range--must be at least a twelfth, which is the range of the "Star Spangled Banner" that everyone complains about. His soprano range sounded much like a woman's soprano. I've heard that castrati were prized for being able to hit the soprano notes with the power of a man's lungs. I don't know, maybe the primitive recording technology didn't show the difference. Maria Callas could have blown him out of the water. That was made on a wax cylinder, right? Pretty good job of digitally cleaning up the sound.
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Old 04-14-2006, 11:17 AM
Ellen Cherry Ellen Cherry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kawaiitentaclebeast
What do female dopers think of all this? Would you go for a willowy Orlando Bloom type with a soft voice, clear skin, full head of hair, a gentle disposition who can keep it up all night with no chance of accidental pregnancy?
I don't have an answer to this question, but I just wonder how "keeping it up all night" would appeal to the man. Wouldn't it be frustrating to go and go and go and go and never ... arrive?
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Old 04-14-2006, 12:09 PM
FlyingRamenMonster FlyingRamenMonster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kawaiitentaclebeast
What do female dopers think of all this? Would you go for a willowy Orlando Bloom type with a soft voice, clear skin, full head of hair, a gentle disposition who can keep it up all night with no chance of accidental pregnancy?

Although I suppose with the reduced sex drive, I'd be too busy curing cancer and conquering the world to concern myself with trifles the likes of you.
You're overlooking one thing: testosterone promotes muscle growth and keeps fat down. If you keep eating like you used to you'll soon find yourself sporting a spare tire. Even if you do cut back on the calories you'll end up with a higher fat-to-muscle ratio, like a woman's. The castrati, too, tended towards the pudgy.
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Old 04-14-2006, 02:00 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Originally Posted by FlyingRamenMonster
You're overlooking one thing: testosterone promotes muscle growth and keeps fat down. If you keep eating like you used to you'll soon find yourself sporting a spare tire.
And even if you diet you won't have the lean feline Orlando Bloom body. It'll be more feminine- with nothing to check the estrogen produced by all men your buttocks will round, you won't develop breastesses per-se but you will have more cleavage and flab on the chest and you'll find yourself living with a monkey on a California ranch singing songs about beating it.
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Old 04-14-2006, 04:40 PM
Operation Ripper Operation Ripper is offline
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Originally Posted by Sampiro
Not having balls would probably be it.
Yup!
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Old 04-14-2006, 05:04 PM
Throatwarbler Mangrove Throatwarbler Mangrove is offline
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Good points [puts pants back on, scaple and vodka away], I guess it wouldn't be all that popular with the ladies. But again, once it is done, that won't even really be a concern any more.

Quote:
I don't have an answer to this question, but I just wonder how "keeping it up all night" would appeal to the man. Wouldn't it be frustrating to go and go and go and go and never ... arrive?
Well, I suppose the simple altruistic pleasure derived from satisfying completely the one I love would be enough. I'm just that kind of guy..

Actually as far as I can tell castration does not equal inability to achieve orgasm, but the wikipedia article isn't entirely clear on this, noting only that there is a greatly reduced or eliminated sex drive. This supposed eunuuch says orgasm is still quite possible.
  #33  
Old 04-14-2006, 05:08 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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As far as singing is concerned, I have heard counter-tenor
Daniel Taylor many times and it is hard to tell it is not a woman. So you can have the castrato effect without being castrated. I have heard him interviewed (perfectly normal male speaking voice) and he has gotten used to the fact that people are always asking if he is gay (I don't know how his girlfriend feels about that, though).

He explains that he had been a boy soprano and when his voice began to change, he was turning into a weak tenor. His voice teacher suggested developing his upper register, which is surprisingly strong (and doesn't sound like falsetto, although physiologically it probably is).
  #34  
Old 04-14-2006, 11:03 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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My example of full-testosterone soprano would be Jon Anderson of Yes. Even though getting on in years, he still sounds as always like a choir boy. A somewhat hoarse choir boy.

In 1979 I knew a girl who went to Pittsburg, I think, to see a Yes concert. She came back and described how a guy had leapt on the stage and tried to strangle Anderson. WTF?

The Azerbaijani singer Alim Qasimov sings way up high at least an octave above middle C, but without that falsetto quality (a lack of overtones?), sounds like a full throat. His daughter Fergana Qasimova sings in the corresponding tessitura (piercingly high and intense) for a woman's range, and whoa, her voice could shatter panes of glass and drop plaster from the ceiling. It takes considerable training and control to sustain notes in that range at full volume while still hitting the notes accurately and everything.

Sampiro, tell us about the Khlysti!
  #35  
Old 04-15-2006, 02:11 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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I meant скопцы Skoptzy. I always get those two sects confused.
  #36  
Old 04-15-2006, 03:48 PM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampiro
When a plague of mumps caused many boys to be castrated

Why would mumps require castration?

I wouldn't call that recording haunting so much as disturbing. Maybe it's knowing that men were actually castrated just so they could sing pretty-that's pretty damned harsh.

Oh, and Johanna, it's PittsburgH. We fought long and hard to get our H back, dammit!
  #37  
Old 04-15-2006, 06:58 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinastasia
Why would mumps require castration?
WAG - one of the potential side effects of mumps is a major swelling and inflammation of the testicles (I think they can also do this to the ovaries, but it's not nearly as visible). Perhaps people thought that castration was a means to relieve this problem, or else thought castration would avoid this problem (well, yeah, if your testicles are removed they won't swell, will they?)
  #38  
Old 04-15-2006, 08:12 PM
rocking chair rocking chair is offline
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i remember seeing on donahue or oprah, (eons ago, on a show on fertility, and problems there of) a set of id. twins, boys, one of whom was born with out testes. they did a transplant from the other twin, so each had one.

both grew up just fine in the manly department, and both were able to have children. the one who was the recip. said he didn't think he was having his brother's kids, as they were id. twins; and he would have had pretty much the same dice throw geneticly.

when i was watching the show i did think: "huh, i might have waited to see how twin's voice came out". (the surgery was done when they were rather young.) he may have had a fantastic music career! he would have been a natural, no surgery needed!
  #39  
Old 04-15-2006, 11:24 PM
Priam Priam is offline
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I would assume that at least some eunuchs have been able to disconnect the orgasm, a function of the brain and nervous system, and actual ejaculation. Thus, while the pressure to release is gone, stimulation could probably get you all the way. I know there are plenty of fully functioning men who can do this.
  #40  
Old 04-16-2006, 01:30 AM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johanna
Sampiro, tell us about the [changed to скопцы Skoptzy]!
I'll be glad to, but to be honest everything I know about them came from the link above so perhaps I'll just let them click on that . They sound fascinating though.

Castration for religious reasons goes way way way way back, probably much further back than written history. Some priests in Egypt and Mesopotamia were eunuchs to encourage cleanliness and celibacy (while others had harems, go figure) and some Jewish hermits (and possibly some Essenes according to one source I read- the extreme Essenes) as well as other particularly fiery fringe religionists of other times and eras who sought to detach themselves by detaching he aggies. It turned up again among some of the separatist fanatics of the Middle Ages (including some of the Cathars- not all, but the more extreme, for they didn't believe in procreation [the word 'bugger' comes indirectly from them because according to possibly dubious sources they preferred anal sex, which was associated with Bulgars, to intercourse as birth control and the word became corrupted). There was a very small Protestant doomsday sect in Europe during the 30 Years War era who did likewise but I can't remember their name and it was a rumor about Isaac Newton (probably false, though it is known that he was extremely proud of his virginity).

Usually it's on the individual basis. Somebody I've mentioned on the boards before is one of the most interesting lunatics in American Civil War history, Thomas "Boston" Corbett. He was a "mad hatter" (the mercury) before the Civil War who was convinced that his love of prostitutes caused his wife to die in childbirth, so he castrated himself. He was later a prisoner at Andersonville, emerged even more disturbed and fanatically religious, and when his company was the group to capture John Wilkes Booth in Garrett's barn Corbett disobeyed a direct order by fatally shooting booth, claiming the voice of God told him to do so. He was brought up for a court martial but pardoned and given a medal and cash award by Edwin Stanton (who was not a eunuch but did share a bedroom with his dead daughter for a couple of years). (Irrelevant to eunuchs but interesting nonetheless if only to me: over the years a number of men claiming to be John Wilkes Booth [having survived the barn] materialized, but only a couple were ever given credence; one was a man in the midwest in the 1890s who knew quite a few facts that were dead-on about the last night of Booth's life [which of course he claimed to have escaped] and could quote Shakespeare at length and had a general physical resemblance to Booth if he were 30 years older and the like--- there is a well done article that to me established that this man was not in fact Booth but Boston Corbett, hopelessly mad [he escaped from a Topeka insane asylum in the 1880s and vanished from history] and having conflated himself and his victim).
  #41  
Old 04-16-2006, 08:05 AM
Operation Ripper Operation Ripper is offline
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Maybe I missed it, but can't believe noone has referenced the NC voluntary eunuch bit, here.
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