November 22nd, 2005


The kangaroo penis in repose

pappasj sent me this delightful poem which was printed in the American Anthropologist, New Series, vol. 75, no. 3 (June 1973), p. 904:
Australian Fantasy
Blessed be the Kangaroo,
That sacred son of Venus,
Endowed by God beyond Mankind,
He sports a bifid penis.

The Abo, in his natural state,
Is envious of this fixture,
And so he cuts his member male,
In ambisexual mixture.

A joint effort of the Anthropology Student Seminar, University of Toledo
(I would warn my overseas readers that the use of the word "abo" is no longer considered acceptable and to never use it in conversation.)

This was intended as a tribute (?) to the following article: Singer, Philip & DeSole, Daniel E. 1967, "The Australian Subincision Ceremony Reconsidered: Vaginal Envy or Kangaroo Bifid Penis Envy", American Anthropologist, vol. 69, pp. 355-358. This article, it would seem to me, is an excellent example of the dangers of cross-discipline research. The thesis of the article is that aborigines (the most egregious fault of this article from an anthroplogical point of view is that it seems to assume the Australian indigineous population is a homogeneous group, which is of course nonsense) would slit open the penile eurethra in an initiation rite in order to emulate the bifurcated design and function of kangaroo penises. The article seems to think similarly that kangaroos are a homogeneous species in Australia. While I've never held myself out as a kangaroo expert, I can say with great authority that the penis of the two largest species of kangaroo (which I would think a typical aboriginal tribe would be more likely to emulate if they were so inclined) only has a single tip. This myth of the bifurcated penis is perpetuated widely, and was even reported in Wikipedia as fact, until I corrected the article (I'm waiting for some "expert" to "correct" it back again.). In fact, while most marsupials have a bifurcated penis (you can find an example of the Tasmanian devil's on my page) it seems from my experience to be a much less frequent "fixture" among the larger macropods.
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