While it's safe to say we should all have a working knowledge of how the human body works, it's also quite obvious that definitions of what constitutes common knowledge vary widely, and nowhere is this often truer than when it comes to what we know about the opposite sex, and vice versa.
In a list over a Frisky, author Rebecca Vipond Brink recounts a list of "mind-blowing" facts that men allegedly don't understand or misunderstand about women. Some of them are highly dubious to me, unless we are talking about teenage boys who have about as much knowledge of women as they do mixing a proper cocktail. Here are a few examples from her list:
We have hair all over our bodies.
Yeah, even on our faces! Crazy, right? I like to think that there's a difference between the hair that grows on a woman's face/all over her body and a mustache and beard, but several guys have made it clear to me that they don't believe that to be true.
For anyone still unclear: Yes, women can grow hair all over their bodies, including their faces. Perhaps because we've been removing it for hundreds of years, it has erroneously created the impression that we are naturally hairless, but we are not. Moving on.
Crotches that smell like perfume only exist in fiction.
Brink wants you to know that vaginas smell like a lot of different stuff: fish, "rank biscuits" if you have a yeast infection. And:
On a good day they smell like … I don't know, salty, ripe fruit? It's never exactly a great smell that you'd want wafting off of your body so that people 20 feet away can smell it (or maybe you do because that's your thing! Respect). Balls stink too, know that.
Dude, don't I know it, re: balls. And while it's also hard to accept that any grown hetero man doesn't know vaginas can smell a lot of ways, or that they smell at all, and that the smell is not naturally one of bouquet-of-flowers-on-rain-swept-misty-morn, let's accept it and go so far as to expound a bit: Vaginas do smell, and they are supposed to, and that's not bad! From a great post on BlogHer by gynecologist Lissa Rankin talkin' 'bout a woman's own special "V-pourri," we learn:
So how is the vagina supposed to smell? It depends. When you're straight out of the shower, your coochie may have no smell at all. When you've just finished running a marathon, it may have a strong musky odor from all the sweat glands. When you're menstruating or giving birth, the flinty-iron smell of blood prevails. When yeast overgrows in the vagina, you may smell like freshly baked-bread or a good malt beer. Right after you've had intercourse, you may smell faintly bleach-like, as semen has a classic odor of its own. And when certain normal bacteria overgrow, they release amines that smell — yup, you guessed it — like fish.
Every vagina has its own special smell — a combination of the normal bacteria that live in your vagina, what you eat, how you dress, your level of hygiene, your bowel habits, how much you sweat, and what your glands secrete. Remember that the glands near the vagina also secrete pheromones, meant to attract a sexual partner. So you don't want to deodorize your va-jay-jay so much that it smells like rain. Doing so thwarts the primal function of what your smell is supposed to accomplish. Plus, it interferes with the vagina's natural pH balance and can lead to a whole host of gynecological conditions.
So own your odor, girlfriends.
What's really fishy, though, is this next item from The Frisky post:
Tampons are not sexually satisfying (to most of us, anyway).
Ok, really? Someone had to be told this? I guess there's always someone who doesn't know about something we consider to be common knowledge — see any episode of Jay Leno's Tonight Show segment Jaywalk for endless examples, or any of those reddit posts on stuff doctors had to explain to patients about how anatomy works. But tampons? Sexual? And to be fair, I mean, sure, if don't have a vagina and therefore haven't put a tamp in it, and you also only think of a woman's vagina as a dick-holder, than I guess you would think anything vaguely dick-shaped going in said vagina would be a turn-on. Only it's not. Duh, there's perfunctory aspects of the vagina for the release of menstrual blood and offspring, so assuming all activity near the vagina is only sex-like would be like women assuming every time a man takes a piss, he gets turned on (I realize a man can have a boner while needing to pee).
You are capable of having cellulite, too.
A'ight, I have to admit I'd literally never thought about men having cellulite, and reading this made me realize that I'd never seen it on a man, either. Brink's post says It's just easier to cover up because it tends to be on your stomach, not your legs.
I Googled a bit further and found a post from Len Kravitz, PhD, explaining that men can get cellulite, but that "90 – 98% of cases occur in women."
The reason cellulite is rarely seen in men (obese and non-obese) is because the epidermis, dermis and uppermost part of the subcutaneous tissue is different in males. Men have thicker epidermis and dermis tissue layers in the thighs and buttocks. More distinctively dissimilar, the first layer of fat, which is slightly thinner in men, is assembled into polygonal units separated by crisscrossing connective tissue (See below).
The differences in subcutaneous fat cell structure in men and women occur during the third trimester of fetus development and are manifested at birth. Variations in hormones between genders largely explain this skin structure deviation. It has been shown that men who are born deficient in male hormones will often have a subcutaneous fat appearance similar to females.
Vaginas don't get "stretched out" from sex.
We've discussed this hotdog-in-a-hallway myth before. In a nutshell: You can't fuck yourself loose, but over time, elasticity changes from aging, not fuckin', got it?
Also I would like to add this one:
Men and women both have smegma.
To turn the tables for equality, I'm sure there's dumb stuff I have thought about how dude's parts work, like I don't know really anything about balls, so I'm always wondering if guys dip their balls into various substances, and which one is best? Like, room-temp queso, maybe? And if you don't do that, why in the fuck not?
P.S. My friend wants to know if dudes getting kicked in the balls feels just like really really bad period cramps or what.
Also boners? Like, WTF does a boner actually feel like? Discuss.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby.