Carlyn Beccia
Author, illustrator, & presenter. My latest book — MONSTROUS. Love dark history? Follow my new pub: https://medium.com/grimhistorian Contact: CarlynBeccia.com

The foreskin is not a fingernail

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Photo by Dainis Graveris on Unsplash

Whenever a doctor plans to lop off a body part, the first question you should probably ask is — but wait…do I need that? Is it like my tonsils, which I won’t miss unless I am eighty years old with pneumonia? Or is it like my appendix — only remove it if it is causing problems?

Unfortunately, if you are an American male, you most likely did not have a say in one of the most common surgeries performed in the US. And it’s time we stopped taking circumcision so lightly.

First off, a man’s foreskin is not a fingernail. The foreskin has over ten thousand nerve endings, including Meisner’s Corpuscles — the fine nerve endings found on places like your fingertips. …


How the anti-masturbation movement made circumcision popular

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The Circumcision of Jesus Christ, by Ludovico Mazzolino, date? | Public Domain

Clue #1: they ask you to draw their penis

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Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Most women on dating apps are bombarded by sexually explicit comments coupled with the occasional dick pic. While most men would never walk up to you at a dinner party and flash their bits, computer screens embolden the emotionally immature.

I tend to get my fair share of sexually explicit comments because I write about sexuality and illustrate my research with medical illustrations. This means the “what did you do today?” question can open a bag of snakes.

For over a month, I had researched circumcision and had just finished an article about why parents should reconsider it. So when Dick* — a man I had just met on a dating app — asked me what I was doing, I was faced with my usual dilemma. …


Do you know how to play the tambourine?

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Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

I was headed into date #3 with Brad* when the worm of doubt crept inside my brain.

My spidey senses first kicked in on date#1. By the end of the night, I knew Brad’s life story. He knew nothing about me.

Some people get nervous on first dates and forget to ask questions back. Maybe he was just trying to impress me? But the second date followed a similar pattern.

There was a 25-minute review of his Porsche. (As someone who drives a used car until it is a rusty heap…I couldn’t care less about cars.) Then there was another 20-minute humble-brag on how brilliant he was at his job. (Brad had invented very important generators that generated very important things.) But his pièce de résistance was a 30-minute dissertation on his recently remodeled kitchen. …


Your voice can seduce or drive people away

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Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Love is blind. Or so 2020’s hottest reality show claimed. In each episode, daters spoke behind closed doors and chose a partner based solely on conversations.

But the show’s attempt to rule out superficial traits like appearances had one obvious flaw —someone’s voice is a huge part of sexual attraction.

When someone has a smooth voice, it can make you want to slide under your sheets for days with them. And when someone has a nasal sounding voice, it feels like you are trapped in a locked cage with Fran Drescher.

Voice is a make or break trait because we make assumptions about someone’s personality from their voice. In one study, participants accurately predicted what someone looked like from their voice alone and matched faces to voices with around 70% accuracy. …


The stories the camera never captured

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The famous kiss captured from a different angle, Alfred Eisenstaedt, National Archives, 1945 | Public Domain

You may mean well, but . . .

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Photo by Agung Pandit Wiguna from Pexels

As parents, we lie to our children in harmless ways. We tell them Santa Claus is watching because we want them to stop acting like cloven-hooved demons. We warn them if they cross their eyes, their eyes will get stuck because their twisted faces gross us out. And we may even occasionally teach them they will get scurvy if they don’t eat their vegetables. (I had some explaining to do once my daughter learned third-grade science.)

But there are other less innocent lies we tell our kids that can have long-reaching and damaging consequences.

In my sophomore year in college, one teacher taught me a painful, but necessary, lesson. …


Forget chastity belts…men suffered too

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Part of male anti-masturbation apparatus, Late 19th or early 20th century, Science Museum, London | CC BY 4.0)

Much like today, the Victorians didn’t like to be wasteful. Only the profligate son of a deranged demon would dare waste the life-giving force of semen on…masturbation.

Nineteenth-century folks believed a man’s ejaculation contained “vital energies,” which should only be saved for the misses. (Who presumably had nothing better to do than sit around and wait for her daily deposit.)

The problem was that most men feared they would run out of their baby batter. Before semen analysis, doctors couldn’t accurately measure sperm count, so they didn’t know the average male produces approximately 150 million swimmers a day. …


From creepy talking dolls to concrete homes, Edison had some epic fails

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Artwork: © Carlyn Beccia | www.CarlynBeccia.com

Edison left behind 1,093 U.S. patents (a record until 2003) and some pithy maxims on the subject of genius. You probably have heard one of his most popular quotes.

“Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

Except Edison never said that. Author and lecturer Kate Sanborn is the source of that quote.

It is doubtful Edison would have even agreed with that quote. Edison definitely spent his share of hours perspiring, but he also knew when to stop sweating. Edison was a fantastic quitter.

A true genius doesn’t just give birth to new ideas but also gets their ideas to crawl, walk, run, and fly. Unfortunately, not all ideas will have legs. …

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