This evening, while walking home I was writing a blog post in my head (I do this a lot–most of them never make it to the computer because I don’t have the time to type them up) (that is probably weird, perhaps I shouldn’t have admitted to that) and I got to the point where the following phrase would be perfect:
“But I don’t possess the balls to go up to some famous, important person….”
At this point, that blog post stopped and turned into this blog post (maybe I’ll write that post some other day) because I started trying to come up with a way to say the above without using the word “balls.” It is the perfect word for that phrase except for one small problem.
I don’t have balls.
(Unless, of course, you count balls of yarn of which I have many, some of which are quite large and all of which are pretty hairy.)
(I can’t wait to see the trackbacks I get from this post.)
Now, I realize that a person is speaking figuratively when they say that they don’t have the balls for X thing. And, there’s no reason I can’t use the same phrase figuratively. Except that it feels wrong somehow. It doesn’t ring true. It doesn’t have the same bite to it as it would if a man were saying it. And there’s no good female equivalent. “Ovaries” might be the the biological equivalent, but it just doesn’t work as well. It’s too clinical. Too nerdy. It has too many syllables. Other words for female genitalia are no better (and besides which, it makes me uncomfortable to use the more vulgar ones).
(At this point, Zuska would probably say something very clever and profound about gender and society and how the slang for testicles is associated with courage, but that slang for female genitalia is associated with dirtiness and foulness and how this provides insight into how society views men and women and their purposes and worth and so on, but I don’t really feel like I can do that justice, so I’m just going to continue on with my search for the perfect euphemism.)
So, what are the alternatives?
Like I said, “ovaries” just doesn’t have the same zing to it, though I often use it when I’m talking to other women. I’m fond of the word “chutzpah” (Yiddish words are very satisfying to say; I think it has something to do with the way they often start in the back of the throat and get spat out). Yet, it doesn’t have the same impact as “balls” which has a certain amount of vulgarity associated with it, leaving you with the impression that the speaker has a certain amount of chutzpah just for using the word. Other words that are commonly used in that particular phrase are simply other euphemisms for testicles (kahunas for instance).
“Nerve,” “daring,” “arrogance,” are all boring and unsatisfying.
I want something clever, something with pizazz, something with impact factor. Something that gives people the same feeling as “balls” but not so, you know, masculine.
Does such a word even exist?