The weirdly universal comfort of cupping the balls.
Usually I keep tumblr things over on tumblr because I often just have a quick, knee-jerk response to the image (“omg, balls!”) and I want to make it feel spontaneous and genuine. But sometimes I come across stuff where I don’t know what to say or where I want to say so many things that it seems wasteful to just say “omg balls!” and chuck it into the queue.
Last week I came across this post from one of my favorite tumblrs devoted to one of my favorite things: testicles. He’s Got Some Balls is easily one of the most finely curated collections of ball-specific imagery from around the world. Some of it is intensely sexual, but most of it is just cool/huge/pretty testicles that are the feature of a particular photo.
This one gave me pause, though:
Firstly, that’s just a beautiful image, any way you look at it. It’s so calm and so respectful and (womany and ridiculous as it sounds) even loving. But more than that is the quote that’s attached here by the curator of He’s Got Some Balls:
“No one knows what to say in the loser’s locker room.”
Ordinarily, like I said about my tumblr, image captions are just people shouting “omg!” or “me too!” or whatever. But to have something that added narrative context to such a beautiful photo really got me thinking: there’s a strangely universal comfort among all men to the cupping of the balls. It may not be something that most people are even aware of, but I know for me, especially, having someone calmly and firmly holding my balls immediately calms me and puts me in a very focused mental and emotional zone nearly instantaneously. So to have this photo narratively redirected this way to two men comforting each other was kinda brilliant.
Ball cupping makes me think of Temple Grandin’s squeeze box, where a physical action or restraint can almost instantly soothe someone who’s overstimulated. Or this thing you can do to cats to ‘deactivate’ them temporarily (this works on most cats and only seems to disorient them). When someone is near to me and holding my nuts, I become calm and fixated on the sensation of warmth and comfort that accompanies that activity. It’s pretty great.
If you’ve never personally experienced it, I recommend it. Try it on yourself (I do this for myself whenever I’m bugging out or feeling especially upset), and definitely try it with someone you trust, as a primer or post-sex activity. I’d be surprised if your reaction isn’t an immediate, instinctual sigh of relief. My theory is that this immediate comfort and calmness is what drives a lot of male crotch-grabbing and ‘adjusting,’ without the grabbers/adjusters ever being consciously aware of it. It’s a quick way for you to comfort your balls and reassure yourself that everything is fine. It may also be connected to the ‘fig leaf posture,‘ from body language research: a signal that one wishes to hide the genitals from exposure because one is feeling emotionally overexposed.
Whatever the cause/effect relationship really is, you should always try to cup the balls of those you care about. Especially your own.