As a consequence of their comparatively lax approach, their sexual mañana, human beings only become aware of the significant role their genitalia are going to play in their lives when most animals have already done so and died.
From a young age it is assumed that each part of the body performs one function only. Thus, the genitalia are thought to be the conduit simply for leaking liquid waste into one’s pants at jelly-and-ice-cream birthday parties or for irrigating bed mattresses. The penny drops partially (or perhaps we should say the penny ‘subsides’ to better convey the concept of a ‘partial drop’?) in woodwork class in the lesson about male and female joints, providing the adolescent with a vague idea of what they should be knowingly sniggering about with their classmates. There is a chance that some connection will be made or further penny slippage occur when in one biology lesson there is mention of birds and bees ‘shagging’ each other and again when the pupil sights in a textbook some painful-looking diagrams of an unfortunate model’s delicate bits split in half. Clues abound in biology textbooks. Why would there be so many names for the bits and pieces you tuck into your undergarments and terms associated with them (which, incidentally, sound like names of family cars (e.g. genitalia (Ford Genitalia), pudenda (Fiat Pudenda) and menstrual (Mini Menstrual)) enquiring schoolchildren ask of themselves, if they have no function?
Of course, the connection may be scuppered by earlier conceptions. Children are accustomed to having bits of their bodies that they do not require removed, such as tonsils, the appendix and milk teeth. Thus, upon studying biology textbooks, they perceive the same fate awaiting bits of genitalia that similarly appear to be redundant. They see the potential in anatomy like epididymis, scrotal sac and vas deferens getting them a couple of days off school recovering from their removal and a few more ‘mucking around’ in pyjamas out of the sight of their mother who might comment otherwise, ‘Oh, you’re alright now, aren’t you?’ At which, the malingering child is compelled to feign a ‘relapse’; to perform mock-anguish and the clutching of the fictional site of affliction.
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