You Can Touch My Junk, but Nothing Else

Now that "Don't touch my junk!" has become a rallying cry, I must ask a question: What's with this youth-culture tendency to refer to male genitalia as "junk"?

Since I keep my nose to the ground, I noticed this slang innovation long before John Tyner drew his line in the sand; it seems to be a phenomenon of the last five years or so. And it's one I'd like to put on the junk heap.

If I have any junk, it won't be on my body, and it will probably end up in the trash bin. And if the TSA wants to rummage through it, hey, be my guest. It's said that you can tell a lot about a person by examining his refuse. So you can touch my junk -- but let's be a bit more careful when we lay our hands on the language, shall we?

When complaining about this, I must admit I'm a little self-conscious. I really don't want to sound like the über-sensitive professional complainers who say that the term "black hole" (density-approaching-infinity-so-not-even-light-can-escape-it hole is a little clumsy, dontcha think?) is insensitive to blacks or, God forbid, like the harridan feminists who would have us supplant "snowman" with "snowperson" (Frosty the Snowperson was a San Francisco soul....). But something needs to be said about this, and if I don't say it, perhaps no one will.

Does it strike anyone else as strange that we're now referring to male genitalia with a word that means "garbage"? Oh, I know dictionaries indicate that this usage of "junk" can refer to female genitalia as well, but in the real world, it seems to be used almost exclusively for the male variety. 

Some may roll their eyes and say I have to be hung up to be focusing on this. If that's your attitude, then I hope your interest in reading further will at least be piqued by the idea that you're viewing the musings of a very strange man. 

But, look, what's truly strange is that we live in an age of intense anti-male sentiment. This shouldn't require illustration in 2010, but as evidence I can cite Christina Hoff Sommers' book The War Against Boys; the continual portrayals of men as dolts in movies, on shows, and in commercials; the pieces I've written on the subject; 11-year-old student Sam Besserman's firsthand account; the acceptance of anti-male t-shirts sporting sentiments such as "Boys are stupid; throw rocks at them!"; or products such as the "All Men are Bastards" knife block, which gives the happy housewife the opportunity to keep her kitchen knives handy by sticking them in the body of a male figurine. And these are just a handful of examples.    

Given the above, is it mere coincidence that this anti-male age sees a phenomenon whereby that which symbolizes manhood, at least physically, has come to be called "junk"? And what might we conclude about this anti-male environment's psychological effect on recent generations of boys and young men when they will readily refer to that symbol of their manhood (in fact, a fellow's privates are sometimes called "his manhood") with a demeaning term? My self-image has never been so bad that I wanted to characterize part of my body as garbage.

Having said this, I won't fall into the feminist trap of taking my own psychological analyses as gospel. Perhaps this phenomenon is driven by nothing more than the notorious adolescent desire to be "cool" (it doesn't seem likely, however, although it certainly is a contributing factor). You also shouldn't think I'm offended by it; I've always echoed the apocryphal saying, "Offense cannot be given, it can only be taken." I just think it's stupid beyond words. And it certainly doesn't represent healthy social change.      

Moreover, given that feminist women don't even like being called "girls" -- when that's just the equivalent of "guys" -- I can just imagine how the "womyn" at NOW would react if the word "junk" was widely used to describe a female body part. Oh, not that I blame this on them, or on normal women. While the Online Etymology Dictionary doesn't yet have an entry for this junky usage of "junk," I'm guessing it was originated by a young man. And men are certainly the ones who most use it.

I also don't expect men to do much about it. You could say that my sex rolls with the punches, that we really will take these things "like a man." Then again, you could also say that many of us have been feminized to the point where we're ineffectual doormats. This is why we'll listen to blather about "racial profiling" without ever pointing out that men are profiled six ways to Sunday and that what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. And nothing will change until we junk the politically correct junk and stop acting like capons.

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