Punishments, wars, tortures
‘He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy parts cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord’, said Moses in Deuteronomy 23:1.
For the unsuspecting Bible reader this probably seems a very severe utterance. I couldn’t make head or tail of it until I found P. Dufour F. Helbing’s The History of Sexual Mores in All Peoples and at All Periods. And what happened at the time of Moses? Jewish men were in the habit of grabbing each other’s genitals when fighting in order to win. Even their spouses joined in. In Deuteronomy 25 we read:
When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets:
Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her.
In order to put an end to the above-mentioned practices, Moses ordained that those who had been castrated or had their penis cut off would no longer be permitted to attended the congregation of Jehovah.
Bullet and grenade wounds to the penis belong more to our age. In the Vietnam War, in pre-Nelson Mandela South Africa and in recent
years in Bosnia these have been documented extensively, as has castration. The latter humiliating procedure is as old as the hills. In the Middle Ages in particular men were castrated as a punishment for sexual misdemeanours or miscalculations.
In the twelfth century the testicles of Pierre Abelard, the great theologian and philosopher, were cut off after his elopement with his beloved pupil Heloi’se. Abelard deeply mourned the loss of his manhood and wrote extensively about it in his memoirs. As for Heloi’se, she was sent intact to a convent, and later gained fame as the head of an establishment called Le Paraclet, founded by her former lover. The two of them eventually found the same resting place in the cemetery of Pere Lachaise in Paris.
It is said that Rasputin’s sizable testicles and penis are preserved in a specially made velvet box. This crazy Russian monk died an unenviable death: he was poisoned, shot, raped, castrated and finally drowned. However, no one seems to know what has happened to the box, any more than we know what has become of Napoleon’s private parts!
In 1934 Professor Johannes Lange published a monograph on The Consequences of Castration in Adults – Illustrated with Reference to War Experiences. Adolf Hitler is not mentioned in the book, but it is known that he lost a testicle, probably at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He became what I once heard an up-and-coming urologist describe as a ‘single-stoner’. Hitler’s case is not absolutely certain: it might of course have been an innate abnormality. During the Second World War the Allies made fun of the Fuhrer in the song ‘Hitler Has Only Got One Ball’, which was later recorded by Bette Midler.
Torture involving the genitals is typical of ‘dirty wars’ and, more especially of dictatorships. In The Feast of the Goat Mario Vargas Llosa devotes page after page to it. From 1930 to 1961 the Dominican Republic was ruled by a dictatorship of the worst kind. A certain Rafael
Leonidas Trujillo Molina ruled like a little Hitler. The writer gives an unvarnished and compelling picture of the absurd manipulations of this despot. After days of torture one of the rebels is slowly finished off:
When they castrated him, the end was near. They did not cut off his testicles with a knife but used a pair of scissors, while he was on the Throne. He heard excited snickers and obscene remarks from individuals who were only voices and sharp odours of armpits and cheap tobacco. He did not give them the satisfaction of screaming. They stuffed his testicles into his mouth, and he swallowed them, hoping with all his might that this would hasten his death, something he never dreamed he could desire so much.