5 Probably Totally Scientific Reasons Boys MUST Clutch Their Penises

I asked my nephew to get his hand out of his pants, and he replied with ill-disguised disdain, “Not yet, Auntie Beth. I’m playing hide and seek.” So, you know. My bad.

Look. Boys hold on to their penises, folks, starting at age zero, and you can complain about it all you want, but they have to do it. There’s a biological imperative at play, obviously, because no matter how many times you tell a boy child to get his hand out of his pants, it ends up back in there. And if the boy is naked? Well, then penis-holding is essential, really. Crucial. A sacred responsibility. 

If you’ve ever wondered why small boys must clutch themselves with the concentration and single-minded attention usually reserved for Secret Service agents guarding the President, I’m here to help. Here are:

hand5 Probably Totally Scientific Reasons Boys MUST Clutch Their Penises

  1. It’s magnetic. The penis is not shaped like a pole coincidentally, ladies and gentlemen. It’s an actual pole with polarity. That’s why it sproings up from time to time and points in random directions like a bobble head. The penis is the south pole and the hand is the north pole. There’s no choice; you can move the hand away for a while, but left to its own devices… wooooooop… it’s pulled right back in place.
  2. For balance. Obviously, it’s easier to walk holding onto a rail. Frankly, the surprise here isn’t the fact that little boys have to hold their penises to walk; the surprise is that girls can manage to stay upright without a grab handle at all.
  3. The TV doesn’t work unless you grab your penis. There is a serious connection between functional electronics and penis-clutching. Reference: all the boys with hands down their pants during TV shows. You know all those times the satellite dish cuts out due to “weather?” Or the internet is “on the fritz?” Or a cable line gets “cut?” It’s because some mom somewhere spitefully made a little boy stop holding his penis. It’s like the penis version of “every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings;” when the penis was released, all the TV-watching ceased.
  4. Contractual obligation. Before birth, at the gender station, God says, “You can pick Penis or No Penis, but if you choose Penis, I’m only giving it to you if you agree to hang onto it all the time, and I am not kidding. Do not test the Lord your God, kid. If you don’t hold it, it will float away like that balloon you’re going to lose at the fair.” And then God makes the little boys turn in their car keys and a major credit card and put down a hefty deposit, which they do not get back if they lose their penis.
  5. They’re explosive, like grenades, except penises are issued with the safety pins pulled, so boys have to keep one hand on them at all times. And all of us who’ve ever shared a bathroom with small boy children know the implications of penis explosions. It’s not good. Not good at all. They’re doing us a favor, really, by holding on so long and so well, like they’re saying, “Don’t worry about me. I’ve got a good grip on this thing. You run. Run to safety and DO NOT STOP ’til you’re clear. Do you hear me? SAVE YOURSELVES.” Which really should be the warning sign on my bathrooms. SAVE YOURSELVES.

Now, I am very scientifically minded, but, as we all know, science is always evolving, so I won’t pretend this is a comprehensive list. If you have any theories, therefore, please share. I think I can speak for everyone when I say this information is very, very important.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
27 comments
  1. I know that my friend still does it! There is no age limit for sure

  2. I am now lol-ing in our church cafe – and wondering when someone is going to ask me why!!!

    I can identify so much – my older 2 no longer do this in public but my youngest occasionally does. I know when it’s time for a wee when there is a dance step attached to it!

  3. As the nanny of your nephew I would also like to let you know they let me know that girls don’t have penises because they don’t listen. They will LOSE IT if they don’t listen!!! Considering their track record of listening, I’d hold on for dear life too! (I’m assuming this truth came from a certain sister as she threatened her brothers.)

  4. My son quit holding onto his penis around age 5. Ten years later I have 2 little girls I’m constantly telling to go wash their hands cause they smell like vagina.

  5. Four small boys here, and penis pride abounds. Once, when I was sitting on the floor in the living room, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I reached up, to pat the said hand, which yielded far more than an appendage with bones in it ever should. Startled, I turned to see a little package resting a few centimetres from my eyeballs. That’s how we found the ‘line’ in my house, when we crossed it!

  6. I was told by my older brother if I didn’t hold once and awhile, my butt would fall off.

  7. I announced at dinner that I’d just read an essay about 5 reason boy must keep their hand in their pants on their penises. My daughter said, “What are the reasons?”. My 5 year old son piped up, “Well, I know one reason, because sometimes your penis gets long and you have to put your hand in your pants to squish it back down.”

    There you go, reason 6, squishing long penises back down.

  8. I am a proud holder of my penis. Even as an adult he is still one of my best and most trusted friends. To add a number 6 to your scientific list, let’s dabble in psychology a bit…..sometimes your close friends need to be held to comfort them and show them that they are valuable to you. As long as a man has his penis he will never die alone.

  9. I have nothing constructive to add excepts thanks everyone for the multiple (and very real) laugh out loud’s.

    *wipes coffee splatters from screen and prays that the ‘enter’ key still works*

    🙂

  10. My 9 year son was trying on shorts last night, to see which ones still fit. The pile of acceptable ones fit the following criteria:
    1. Could button without sucking in
    2. Had room for whatever movement he deemed necessary
    3. Had sufficient room in the band for the had to reach downn for penis holding and/or butt itching.

  11. It’s not just penises. Scientifically speaking, the scrotum is stretchy and the testicles are (roughly) spherical, and therefore they must be played with, or they will disappear.

  12. You forgot the one that it WILL fall off if not held in place. If it falls off, someone may steal it. Therefore, it must be held at all times.

  13. Thank you so much for this wonderful post. Now I finally know why my 5-year-old won’t get his hand out of his pants. 😀

  14. Beth, you forgot 1 other scientific reason boys grab their penises: because they can

  15. My 5 year old was doing the whole grab thing a while back and I asked the silly question of “do you need to go potty?” To which he replied across his preschool classroom, “No, I hold my penis when I’m nervous!” (-;
    A week later while at tae Keon do (I guess another helpful time to hold ones penis) he yells out at me “I’m just nervous.” I’m hoping he picks up another nervous habit!

  16. I may have the only male child on earth who doesn’t spend his life with his hand on his penis… I don’t think he even found it until he was 3, and he almost never touches it ( even while peeing… which leaves my bathroom in an even worse state than yours I imagine!)

    1. No, you don’t have the only male child whose hand manages to stay out of his pants. My son’s does as well. Thankfully!

  17. Just like Karen above The witty reparte around here consists of “Do you have to go the bathroom or are you just playing?” It’s almost always, “just playing!” Lovely.

  18. I find myself saying “get your hand out of your pants” a lot in my house. Sometimes i’m actually talking to the children. 😉

  19. I teach middle school. A few years back there was a kid that we all referred to as “Hands-Down-The-Pants-Boy.” He was not in any special programs either–an entirely typical kid who was friends with some of the jock kids, and he ALWAYS had his hand down his pants. I didn’t even teach him, but at a meeting when his name came up and I said, “Who?” and they told me “hands-down-the-pants-boy,” I was all, “Oh yeah, HIM.”

    I spent one year transferred to the high school in budget reshuffling, and had him as a 10th grader. He no longer holds onto his penis in public. I SO wanted to tell him, “You know what your middle school teachers all called you?” but fortunately for my continued employment, managed to resist the temptation.

    My only moral here is that even the really extreme cases eventually break the habit, at least in public.

    1. I actually find this as a form of bullying, not on your part but on the middle school teachers part. Instead of putting a name on the student why didn’t the dam teachers try and help the student… This is why my autistic child will not be going to public school. You are there to teach the students, if that student needs help in any other way then the teacher should be in contact with the parents. To put a name on the student is just the same as the other students calling him names… The US needs better quality teachers,

      1. Wait…You DO realize they never told the boy they called him this, right? So how can that be considered “bullying”? You act as if you never had a private nickname for someone based on what they did or said. We all do this to some degree for whatever reason. Years ago, people used to call me “Crazy-Haired Phil”, because my hair was pretty crazy. That’s it. It was not meant to shame me, it was what it was…Believe me, I was bullied as a kid, much more than just calling me a name, and it taught me to defend myself…To be honest, it made me a stronger adult, but that’s another discussion. To apply “bully” to a nickname others used on their own time, who never made public, is simply cheapening the idea of what a bully is: Someone who physically preys upon others who are vulnerable. Besides, we both know if any of these teachers acknowledged this boy was touching his penis and tried to “help him”, they would have been labeled as “sex offenders”. What one parent feels a teacher should have done is the same reason another was fired or lost their career. One of the best teachers I ever had had a complaint filed against them by ONE parent, because the teacher played guitar and sang at an open mic night after school. They saw him having a beer and enjoying himself on his OWN TIME. I guess they thought he should be home correcting homework or something. If it weren’t for us kids defending him, the best influence in my life might have been fired because of ONE complaint. Why would quality rush to a job like that? Nothing about being a teacher means you have a quality life, so how do we expect quality to flow in that direction, or even carry over into the classroom? In your own words, a teacher needs to teach…However, most parents today expect teachers to raise their kids as well. That’s not their jobs by your own admission. Telling a child to keep his hand off of his privates is not and never has been on the syllabus of any class I have ever attended. The US doesn’t need better quality teachers…The US needs to allow teachers to do their jobs while parents play a more active role in helping them do so instead of complaining about everything they do. It is the complaining done by adults, the constant shift in the system, standardized testing, the lack of people standing in the corner of education, the lack of respect for the teaching position as a whole, THAT is what is driving quality teachers out of the classrooms. What person of quality would want it?

        And to keep with the discussion, as a boy, I loved my penis…As a man, I still do. That is all.

        1. “Telling a child to keep his hand off of his privates is not and never has been on the syllabus of any class I have ever attended.” –That was awesome. I agree with you; I have actually seen amazing “quality” teachers decide to leave education because they are no longer allowed to do their job, they are told how to do their job. If teachers were allowed to teach…and this means, teaching children how to THINK not memorize then we’d all be better off.

      2. Michelle –

        Not to gang up on you but I agree with Phil. There are teaching moments and parenting moments. Going to private school will not change the fact that ‘this’ particular moment described is a parenting moment – not a teaching moment.

        As a product of private schools I can tell you that just because you go to private school you will still have parenting moments involving hygiene and such (I am lumping this into hygiene due to genital contact).

        Private school teachers are not better or worse than public school teachers. They often get paid less – in my opinion, the benefit of private school comes from the smaller class sizes, opportunity to include religious education and MOST importantly – VERY INVOLVED parents. Aside from the religious education, some public schools have small classes and involved parents. Each school is different. My mom was a public school teacher for over 30 years and when she retired from Seattle Public School District. What did she do??? She went to work in the private school district.

        I think as parents we need a more generous spirit towards our teachers and realize that their job description does not include behavioral or emotional teaching, that is the role of parents or in extreme cases a psychologist or psychiatrist. Do teachers take on this undefined job in small doses, YES. Is it their job description, NO.

      3. Oooh, I just came across this spirited discussion I inadvertently started. All I have to add is that if you are a middle school teacher, it helps GREATLY to have a middle school sense of humor. We have to laugh, or we’d never make it. If my challenging child’s teachers have a special nickname for him, I don’t blame them on bit. If they ever mock him to his face or in front of other students, I will have their heads on a platter. To me there is a great deal of difference between the two.

  20. Most frequent conversation with one of my sons. “Do you have to go to the bathroom?” Him, “No.” Me, “Um then why are you holding your penis?” Him, “Oh.” Me, “Are you sure you don’t have to go to the bathroom?” Him, “Nope.” Me, “Then let go of your penis.” 5 minutes later, repeat conversation. Next time I just better let him be since you’ve shown me the science behind it.

  21. Oh, #3! And there is no age cutoff for that one, either.

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