Things to Say Instead of 'That Takes Balls': A Definitive List

Okay. I am officially bored of this conversation about what we should say instead of "he's a pussy" or "that takes balls" if we want to talk about weakness or pluck without undermining our commitment to female empowerment. Because, YES, it is kind of sucky when lady-parts are stand-ins for wet, sloppy shittiness and man-parts are stand-ins for having the bravery of a mighty lion. (Not to mention the fact that dude lions are total Hufflepuffs who don't even DO SHIT EXCEPT BRUSH THEIR HAIR AND TAKE A NAP. Whatever.)

But Betty White clearly already handled the balls thing, and Dan Savage cornered the market on pussy, so why does this biz still come up all the goddamn time? It's one of those things that becomes a stand-in for actual conversation because people are too tired to make up new stuff to talk about—like when you want to make a joke without burning any brain-calories, so you just pretend like you misheard someone, like, "Ohhhh, you're taking your dog for a walk!? I thought you said you were going to take your BLOG for a CLOCK and I was like, what!?!?!?!?" No. (Enough of that, by the way. Unless it's a really, really good one.)

Anyway, what reminded me was this piece at the Bygone Bureau, which is actually a funny little satire on this whole conversation:


Since my heroine is a feminist, in order to avoid saying the more male-centric phrase “That takes a lot of balls,” I am considering that she should say “That takes a lot of clit.” But this substitution doesn’t ring true to me. Size doesn’t necessarily matter in terms of the clitoris’s ability to feel pleasure, or in terms of a woman’s fertility. And so, to say, for example, that “She has a ten-inch clit” doesn’t have the same gravitas as “He’s got huge cojones” or “He’s got a ten-inch penis” (although a ten-inch clitoris would be quite something to behold) . In any case, trying to find another phrase is mind-boggling – what part of the female anatomy would be the equivalent?

So ANYWAY, even though that was a joke question in a joke essay, I thought I might as well try and answer it once and for all—because what would be better than never talking about this ever again, and also avoiding the word "clit" in my work Inbox for the rest of my life? In the interests of balancing out our abundance of anti-woman colloquialisms, I've come up with a list of all the ball-substitutes you'll need for any occasion. And best of all, they're completely gender neutral! I AM NO FEMALE SUPREMACIST!

Gender-Neutral Alternatives to the Term "Balls":


Sample Sentence: "Oh man, did you hear what Mark said to Principal Gorst? That guy must have to carry his bangs around in a shopping cart!"

Skin Tags
Sample Sentence: "Charlene, you must really be covered in skin tags to show up at book club without a potluck contribution."

High Arches
Sample Sentence: "If there's one thing you can say about Napoleon, it's that he really must have had some dainty, delicate, tiny pink feet with high arches to invade Russia like that."

Sample Sentence: "You can't even show up and say it to my face? Do you even have nipples, Gordon?"

A Huge Butthole
Sample Sentence: "Did you hear Kevin standing up to Mr. Jenkins in the quarterly budget meeting today? He must have a HUUUUUUUGE BUTTHOLE!"

Use them. Run free. They're yours. Equality is achieved.