Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Lately my posts have been focused on bellies, bumps and babies. At this point it only seems fair to throw in a post about balls. This particular entry has been on my mind ever since I moved here, my delay in writing it has to do with my lack of photographic evidence but I will just have to use my words (and possibly a stolen image or two) as a substitute.

The French love testicles. They don't hide them under grape leaves, they don't  shelter them with baggy swim-wear, they rarely remove them from their pet dogs and occasionally they savor them sautéd with cream sauce. NOTE Rongons Blancs is the seemingly innocent name given ram testicles often listed on fancy French menus. 

Growing up I was more of a cat person than a dog person and to be honest with you, I have never taken a great interest in feline or canine anatomy. Based on the fact that I never noticed any dog testicles in the States, I innocently concluded that dog genitalia was tucked up under their bellies and only protruded when their was work/play to be done. I was satisfied with this answer and left the topic alone.  However when I arrived in Paris, a city who loves their dogs and firmly disagrees with Bob Barker, I was honestly caught off guard by the sheer size and visibility of dog testicles and was forced to reevaluate my previous conclusion. I was shocked to discover that A. Neutering your dog actually involves removing their testicles (I assumed it was more like a human vasectomy... more on that in a moment) and B. That dog balls are so... well... eye catching.

image stolen from the internet 

While I have not found the right time or place to ask a Parisian dog owner if I may photograph their dog's testis for my blog (lack of balls on my part you might say?!) I have had the pleasure of speaking to a few dog owners about this topic. My favorite conversation was with a manly boat captain who was the master of a giant bulldog, whose bulging testicles made him waddle instead of walk. When I inquired about why he chose not to neuter his pup, he looked at me strangely, like I had just asked him why he had elected to not cut of his dog's ears? After seeing that my question was a serious one, he took a moment to think about it then grinned and said, "Why should I have all the fun?". 

Now not all French people feel this way. The Original Madame was in town last week and was gushing with pride when she described her new West Highland Terrier, Ebo, to us. Ebo is the cream of the crop with pedigreed parents, a shiny white coat, perfect proportions, evenly spaced eyes and so on and so on. As part of her elaborate description of just how fabulous this dog is, she noted that even a small sample of his sperm is worth hundreds of Euros and that there are countless female dog owners who would happily pay top dollar to roll around in the sac with a handsome fellow like Ebo. My ears perked up when I heard this and Grégoire's eyes briefly unglazed because he and I have been looking for ways for Madame to entertain herself as she enters her golden years of retirement and earn a little pocket money. This seemed perfect! For the rest of her stay we encouraged her not to castrate Ebo and instead to start a little Westie stud service in Southern Brittany. She seemed somewhat onboard with the idea but upon her return to Quiberon she found Edo humping her newly embroidered couch cushions and lost it. Ebo consequently lost his balls this weekend and will be sharing his prize winning sperm with no one.  
well designed government issued brochure

Moving on to the topic of human males and their balls, I would like to tell you about birthing class last week. We discussed post-partem issues including contraception. Sylvie, our mid-wife and class leader, passed out stylish brochures from the government listing the various creams and contraptions one can use to prevent a second pregnancy too close to first. She then said, staring at me, "Class, you will note that vasectomies are not listed here because they are illegal* in France... unlike in SOME counties... isn't that right Mary?". I was honestly surprised and said, louder than I planned, "What! Why?". Eva, the Danish chick in my class was right there with me pointing out that vasectomies were permitted in Denmark. Sylvie then explained to the group that the French government considered vasectomies to be a form of self mutilation and that in any case men are incapable of making that kind of permanent decision, "I mean, can you imagine Mary if that poor man changes his mind?".

This kind of logic is a classic example of Negative Freedom vs Positive Freedom, a concept that I would like to delve into soon in another post. Essentially Negative Freedom limits your choices so you are free from having to make mistakes like neutering yourself and Positive Freedom puts it all on the table and lets you decide what is and isn't a good choice for you. France has a long history with Negative Freedom while America prefers Positive Freedom.

Irregardless, my class's (and my husband's) verdict was clear, they all looked at me with eyes that said "Torturing terrorists and capital punishment isn't enough for you people? You also have to dabble in genital mutilation? What's next?". 

So vive les testicules I suppose! At the very least this phenomenon explains why Paris is teaming with dogs and babies.

* I wanted to do a little further research on the legality of vasectomies in France and found this interesting article about a Frenchman's struggle to get around the current law: 


Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

Hi there! I am so glad that Keith of A Taste of Garlic reviewed your blog -- it's wonderful. I've been having fun reading up on how vasectomies used to be illegal in France (!!!) and I am *very* intrigued by the concept of Negative Freedom vs Positive Freedom. It explains a lot of some of the cultural differences I've observed between the French and Americans. Cool stuff!

I'm going to continue reading some back posts with a cup of coffee now, but wanted to say "thanks" and wish you luck with your pregnancy!

(an alien parisienne)

lazy susie said...

Interesting. I've not given much thought to French testicles. The ones that live in my house got me pregnant nine times, so we were happy to get a vasectomy.

Do French women get their tubes tied? I would think that there would be many, many more children in France; regular birth control isn't usually that effective.


Jamie Vegan said...

I am moving to paris on march 13 from gainesville florida, to be married to my parisian fiance. i would love to talk to you on email some about a few of my concerns!

My email is
It would be awesome to speak with you.

Thanks! Jamie