Why you should care

Because they’ve spread from backpacks to a tasteless social meme.

Lauren Loftus is a reporter based in Phoenix, Arizona.

What’s up with all the balls these days? It seems like guys’ little guys are absolutely everywhere. In some quippy British Netflix show called Scrotal Recall. In the form of nard-shaped, um, fashion accessories. On social media, as, apparently, a trend called nutscaping. And, as always, in public, where half the population deems it appropriate to scratch and rearrange ad nauseam.

Enough already. Please, gentlemen, I’m begging you: Kindly put ’em away. They’re ugly, for starters, and while you might think they represent manliness, we suspect the opposite. Testicles in the public view are a way of protesting your manliness too much.

On a rudimentary level we get the evolutionary impulse of wanting to give your family jewels some TLC. Testicles are important, after all — they produce testosterone, which aids in male sexual development, as well as sperm, vital to the business of baby making. But, alas, importance does not make something easy on the eyes.

Balls, simply put, are gross. Women don’t like them — they are somehow simultaneously delicate and soft, while also shriveled, smelly and sometimes, horror of horrors, oily. Several ladies we spoke with said they’d prefer gonads to be kept out of sight. One put it this way: “Have you ever been to a really fun party and thought, ‘Gosh, this is really great, but if we just had two really awkward, semi-hairy, wrinkly people here, it would be even better?’!! NO.”

Even men admit to the ugliness of their accoutrement. Daniel Bitton, creator of the anatomically correct scrotum backpack, the Scrote’n’Tote, tells us, “Scrotes are not just weird, dangly objects to women; they’re weird, dangly objects to us men as well.” But to him that’s no reason to keep them locked up. They’re easily inspectable, he goes on, unlike other genitals, and thusly “a source of endless fascination, inspiration and insecurity.”

For Wilson Kemp, the owner of Truck Nutz — which produces those multicolored plastic scrotums most often seen attached to the backs of pickup trucks — it boils down to this: Balls are funny. “Our intention is to provide a little humor to the day,” he says. “Fortunately for us, most people seem to see them that way.”

We think it goes deeper than that. Our society has long viewed testicles as the ultimate symbol of masculinity. To have balls — specifically, big ones — means to be in possession of power and bravado and gumption. A guy with cajones is a real man. He’s grown a pair. So today, in an age where less and less men are doing traditionally “manly” jobs, they’re choosing to demonstrate their masculinity by literally putting it front and center — whether by donning gonad gear or bending over in front of an idyllic mountain range and taking a picture of their junk.

Clancy Philbrick, the founder of the aforementioned collaborative Nutscapes, a so-called social art project, insists he didn’t create the feed for cavemanlike purposes. Instead, he says it was about art and clever juxtaposition. The “visceral placement of man in nature simultaneously suggests both the idea of masculine domination while also hinting at, due to the courageous exposure of flesh, masculine vulnerability.”

Um, OK. That’s one thing we can agree on. Putting your special satchels on display definitely makes you more vulnerable — to cold water and stiff breezes and swift kicks.

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