Wednesday, April 30, 2008

As Seen on the Daily Show

Not to go all Warren Ellis or anything but seriously: What year is this?

Thirteen "suspected sorcerers" have been arrested in the Congo for "stealing or shrinking penises".

Strangely enough, the arrests are the most rational part of the story, since arresting these "suspected sorcerers" is the best way of protecting innocent people, usually foreigners, from being beaten and burned by angry mobs spurred on by panicked men screaming that their penises have vanished.

It's straight out of Monty Python's Holy Grail, including the part where the police try to explain to the "victim" that he still has a penis, and is not believed.

Maybe the worst part of the story, this strange brew of superstition, sexual anxiety, paranoia, xenophobia, and just out and out ignorance, is that it's not an isolated incident: it's common. In 2001 in Benin, in 1997 in Ghana, in China and the Sudan, wherever understanding of human anatomy is low, this pattern repeats and repeats.

It's sickening and depressing. People are dying because no one took these men aside during puberty and said "Penises shrink. It happens. Sometime it's anxiety, sometimes it's just cold. Here, watch this episode of Seinfeld."

People, we need to talk frankly about sex. People have to learn how their bodies work. Sex is how we as a species survive, it's built into our notions of romantic love and gender dynamics. If people grow up not understanding one of the most vital parts of living, they are going to just be fucked up, and more people are going to die because some idiot stayed in a cold shower too long.