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A mind dismembered: In search of the magical penis thieves
July 8, 2008 3:46 PM   Subscribe

According to Ilechukwu, an epidemic of penis theft swept Nigeria between 1975 and 1977. Then there seemed to be a lull until 1990, when the stealing resurged. “Men could be seen in the streets of Lagos holding on to their genitalia either openly or discreetly with their hand in their pockets,” Ilechukwu wrote. “Women were also seen holding on to their breasts directly or discreetly, by crossing the hands across the chest. . . . Vigilance and anticipatory aggression were thought to be good prophylaxes. This led to further breakdown of law and order.” In a typical incident, someone would suddenly yell: Thief! My genitals are gone! Then a culprit would be identified, apprehended, and, often, killed.
posted by chunking express (71 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
*ahem* Magical penis theft.

As Ilechukwu tells it, the victim stared straight ahead during the examination, after which the doctor pronounced him normal. “Exclaiming,” Ilechukwu wrote, “the patient looked down at his groin for the first time, suggesting that the genitals had just reappeared.”

She turned me into a newt!

I got better
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:53 PM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


This Achewood comic springs immediately to mind. Indeed, what if we are actually crying out for our own dongs?
posted by Ryvar at 3:54 PM on July 8, 2008


That takes balls!

sorry
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:56 PM on July 8, 2008


The Daily Show loved this story.
posted by rooftop secrets at 4:02 PM on July 8, 2008


Are you saying the Nigerian I sent my penis to WASN'T the son of a Nigerian health official who has an enormous collection of penises acquired before the war, and simply needs assistance in getting them out of the country?

What have I done?
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:05 PM on July 8, 2008 [8 favorites]


Previously, and Previously.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:08 PM on July 8, 2008




in just two weeks, i received 17,493 penises in the mail.
posted by quonsar at 4:11 PM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


how much is that in buckets?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:17 PM on July 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


how much is that in buckets?

A guy would say seven buckets. A gal would say five.

Also re: post. WHAT?
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:21 PM on July 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is almost as funny as slitting open your chest and inserting bags of saline therein.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:23 PM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I realize that these sort of mass delusions/hysterias are common enough throughout the world (see the Satanic Panic in the US in the early 80's), but this is such a weird manifestation of this universal trope.
posted by Falconetti at 4:24 PM on July 8, 2008


Sam Kinison used to riff on penis theft when he complained that wives won't let men leave the house w/o their junk, "No man, she got the spare too."

I'm glad that the gist of the article is that each culture has it's own particular manias. I know penis theft seems weird to us in the west but I imagine that anorexia is unbelievable to someone who has to live on a few hundred calories a day. The article rightly points out that the DSM categorizes our Western maladies because we're used to seeing them and then lumps these other 'cultural' mental illnesses as "other" because they seem weird - and it's all down to a lack of familiarity.
posted by djeo at 4:24 PM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Genital retraction syndrome aka koro.
posted by beerbajay at 4:26 PM on July 8, 2008


If I were king, I'd set aside a big chunk of money to try and investigate these "supernatural panics" that creep up around the world every few years. We had witch hunts here in the US in the 17th and 18th centuries, and of course the Satanic Abuse Panic of the 80's and early 90's. Other countries have variations on the theme: omnipresent witches and penis-thiefs in Africa, similar stories in Asia and, of course, the several hundred-year history of witch hunting in Europe.

"Supernatural panics" seem to be connected in some way to political, religious and cultural turmoil, but beyond that, I can't seem to find any commonalities, except that the phenomenon seems to transcend all "normal" cultural and religious boundaries.

This is an area that needs more study, I think.
posted by Avenger at 4:33 PM on July 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is almost as funny as slitting open your chest and inserting bags of saline therein.

That would be unneccessary, since from my reasarch of watching feminine hygeine commercials, I've learned something: women are full of blue water. Boobies? Those are storage tanks, dude.
posted by jonmc at 4:50 PM on July 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


So, how many cultures are there that don't have mass hysteria events like penis theft, satanic panic, or whatnot? Are there any? Of course, proof of absence is much harder than proof of existence.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 4:52 PM on July 8, 2008


Hey, it happens in New York sometimes too.
posted by mygothlaundry at 4:57 PM on July 8, 2008


This will genitaliwell.
posted by Balisong at 4:58 PM on July 8, 2008


So, how many cultures are there that don't have mass hysteria events like penis theft, satanic panic, or whatnot? Are there any? Of course, proof of absence is much harder than proof of existence.

Would you include wars started to find non-existent WMD's?
posted by etaoin at 4:59 PM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, look, this sort of thing happens among ignorant blacks in Third World countries. It can't happen here.

(Salem witch trials, Japanese internment, Joe McCarthy and HUAC, McMartin Preschool, that Muslim is praying in his foerign jibber-jabber on my plane!)
posted by orthogonality at 5:00 PM on July 8, 2008


I don't want to interrupt the high fucking horse party, but I don't see anything in the original post that claims that this is only about Blacks, the Third World, Africans, nor do I see anything that says it couldn't happen here.
posted by proj at 5:13 PM on July 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


This is one of my favourite books-- first published in 1841. Thing haven't got much more rational in the interim.
posted by jokeefe at 5:14 PM on July 8, 2008


Best quote from the article - "The paper gave the exact address where Wasiu Karimu lived, so I decided to try and find out what exactly had transpired in his pants." I LOL'ed when I read that.
posted by Falling_Saint at 5:14 PM on July 8, 2008


Oh look! You can read the whole thing online here!
posted by jokeefe at 5:15 PM on July 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


See the excellent chapter on the 19th Century equivalents of LOLCATS, for example.

I love this book.
posted by jokeefe at 5:21 PM on July 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, look, this sort of thing happens among ignorant blacks in Third World countries. It can't happen here.

Who are you responding to? Neither the article nor the commentators here fell into that trap.
posted by Falconetti at 5:26 PM on July 8, 2008


IT COULD NEVAR HAPPEN HERE

There ya go, orth.
posted by everichon at 5:28 PM on July 8, 2008


"That would be unneccessary, since from my reasarch of watching feminine hygeine commercials, I've learned something: women are full of blue water. Boobies? Those are storage tanks, dude."

No, I'm pretty sure women are full of yogurt. That's why they're all soft and squishy. And pro-biotic.
posted by Naberius at 5:30 PM on July 8, 2008


Falconetti writes "Who are you responding to? Neither the article nor the commentators here fell into that trap."

I was snarking, dammit. Is the art of snark dead around here? ;)
posted by orthogonality at 5:31 PM on July 8, 2008


No, I'm pretty sure women are full of yogurt.

No, blue water. They pass it on the babbys. I learned that from diaper commercials.
posted by jonmc at 5:42 PM on July 8, 2008


I have to say; there are a lot of things I think could happen here, where "here" is the united states. I don't, however, think that one of those things is magical action-at-a-distance penis theft. Call me an optimist.
posted by Justinian at 5:54 PM on July 8, 2008


(sung to "Somebody Stole My Car" by The Kinks)

That's life in Nigeria
Dicks are stolen without pity
Wangs are a valuable commodity
A country of spam and depravity
A "Gimme your pecker!" mentality
Where the thieves steal the cocks
And the innocent weep
An X-rated dairy case of wee-wees:
Milk cartons askin', "Have you seen me?"

Cock thieves, cock thieves,
Cock thieves, cock thieves,

Somebody stole my wang
Somebody stole my tallywhacker
They ripped off my pants and stole my dong
And if it's happened to you
Then you know this song
Somebody stole my wang

Somebody stole my wang
I left it resting right here in my lap
I just had it cleaned and just had it waxed
And everyone's sayin' I just oughta relax
Somebody stole my wang
posted by optovox at 5:55 PM on July 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


First thing I thought of was that King Missile song, but mygothlaundry beat me to it.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:07 PM on July 8, 2008


women are full of blue water.

yes, it's a little known fact that PMS was the origin of the term "the blues"
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:27 PM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love this book.

Me too. Ain't it a beaut?
posted by Wolof at 6:37 PM on July 8, 2008


...an epidemic of penis theft swept Nigeria between 1975 and 1977. Then there seemed to be a lull until 1990.

MAN, am I glad I went there in 1980 and returned in '81, or WHAT?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:41 PM on July 8, 2008


Haven't they heard of SHRINKAGE?
posted by mike3k at 6:49 PM on July 8, 2008


I've been meaning to blog a translation of this article for a while: "1950 年华北地区的“ 割蛋” 谣言" - 'The 1950 "Bollock-chopping" rumours in North China'. Seems it was one consequence of the social anxiety attendant on the revolution. Anti-communist elements including underground Daoist sects helped fuel the rumours, claiming that Communist cadre were chopping off men's testicles and women's breasts to sent to the Soviet Union to be used to make atomic bombs (!). This lead to several party workers being lynched by understandably nervous peasants.
posted by Abiezer at 6:53 PM on July 8, 2008


You can have my penis when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:02 PM on July 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Anti-communist elements including underground Daoist sects helped fuel the rumours, claiming that Communist cadre were chopping off men's testicles and women's breasts to sent to the Soviet Union to be used to make atomic bombs (!). This lead to several party workers being lynched by understandably nervous peasants.

I can see that, According to some of the women I know, my dick is very similar to an Atom Bomb.
posted by delmoi at 7:14 PM on July 8, 2008


It only performs its function once during its entire existence and when it does it's over in a microsecond?
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:58 PM on July 8, 2008 [10 favorites]


SNAP!
posted by Falconetti at 8:00 PM on July 8, 2008


delmoi writes "According to some of the women I know, my dick is very similar to an Atom Bomb."

Compact, unwieldy explosive, cancer causing and only used a couple times a century?
posted by Mitheral at 8:06 PM on July 8, 2008 [6 favorites]


delmoi, perhaps you should have said "spent fuel rod".
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:36 PM on July 8, 2008


posted by delmoi According to some of the women I know, my dick is very similar to an Atom Bomb.

Depending on where you release it, people call it "Fat Man" or "Little Boy"?
posted by optovox at 9:08 PM on July 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


Warning ladies: delmoi's penis is extremely dangerous. Do not handle without wearing proper protective gear, like a lead-plated suit and 20,000 feet of separation.
posted by tehloki at 9:18 PM on July 8, 2008


A blinding flash! It's delmoi's penis! Duck, and COVER!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:31 PM on July 8, 2008


No, I'm pretty sure women are full of yogurt. That's why they're all soft and squishy. And pro-biotic.

And why they help make you poop.

wait, am I on a different page here?
posted by davejay at 9:37 PM on July 8, 2008


that smoking gun in delmoi's pocket could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:40 PM on July 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


I can see that, According to some of the women I know, my dick is very similar to an Atom Bomb.

They invaded your pants, but, after a lengthy search, it was never found?
posted by Krrrlson at 9:53 PM on July 8, 2008 [6 favorites]


You guys made my day.
posted by c13 at 10:12 PM on July 8, 2008


after a lengthy search, it was never found

Maybe the Nigerians pulled off a pre-emptive strike, to save the ladies from mutually assured destruction?
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:21 PM on July 8, 2008


Delmoi, we appreciate your sacrifice here in straight-man's land. Take a breather, soldier.
posted by maxwelton at 10:22 PM on July 8, 2008


Atom Bomb

Took several of humanity's greatest minds to figure out how to get it working the first time?
posted by breath at 10:56 PM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yoink!
posted by aubilenon at 11:01 PM on July 8, 2008


posted by delmoi According to some of the women I know, my dick is very similar to an Atom Bomb.

It's only been used on unsuspecting Japanese men, women, children, and animals?
posted by optovox at 11:46 PM on July 8, 2008 [6 favorites]


It was developed in total secrecy by an international team of genius physicists working around the cock.
posted by Wolof at 12:31 AM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's just lucky that Hitler didn't win the race to use it against innocent civilians.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:43 AM on July 9, 2008


Am I too late to say Delmoi's penis is widely considered minute, man?

Thanks for the opportunity, Delmoi.
posted by davemee at 1:19 AM on July 9, 2008


(it's well known that Hitler desperately wanted to get his hands on it before anybody else did)

damned esprit de l'escalier!
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:32 AM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love you motherfuckers. You too Delmoi, you took one for the team.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:05 AM on July 9, 2008


> I don't want to interrupt the high fucking horse party, but I don't see anything in the original post that claims
> that this is only about Blacks, the Third World, Africans, nor do I see anything that says it couldn't happen here.

Put on your shit-colored glasses like everybody else, man. You'll see nasty shit everywhere you look.
posted by jfuller at 5:28 AM on July 9, 2008


*looks at screen*

OMG!! It's happened to me now!

*looks down at crotch*

Oh, thank goodness I got it back!

*looks back at screen*

OMG!!! Thief! Someone stole my johnson!
posted by Pollomacho at 5:49 AM on July 9, 2008


after a lengthy search, it was never found

Maybe the Nigerians pulled off a pre-emptive strike, to save the ladies from mutually assured destruction?
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:21 AM on July 9 [+] [!]


I heard from a little bird (NOT DICK CHENEY) that UbuRoivas's s-o is an undercover CIA operative and that's where the information about the Nigerians came from, but you didn't hear that from me.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:54 AM on July 9, 2008


I can see that, According to some of the women I know, my dick is very similar to an Atom Bomb.

fat man or little boy ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:45 AM on July 9, 2008


sgt.serenity, take a look upthread. You've just paid a visit to the Department of Redundancy Department, Jokes Division.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:29 AM on July 9, 2008


Stolen Atomic Penis would be a great album title.

...or a name for a pet, because as I say it, I realize how much fun it would be to shout that across a dog park.
posted by quin at 7:54 AM on July 9, 2008


Yeah, I really can't see any reason this should be considered more bizarre or less real than bi-polar disorder or major depression. Why exactly is "I have a chemical imbalance in my brain" and more rational or verifiable than "The woman on the bus stole my penis"? Both rest on entirely untested assumptions and produce symptoms which are difficult to observe. I've never put much stock in the DSM-IV ideology, and I put less in it now.

Granted, there are people who are just no-foolin' crazy, but every culture seems to have those, e.g. the village idiot. That's less bizarre than it is pathetic, but it's definitely more universal. It's also pretty easy to tell what went wrong: congenital defect, head trauma, chemical poisoning, etc. But these "emotional disorders"? Yeah, something's definitely wrong with you, but hey, join the club. That doesn't make it a medical problem. Get your shit together.
posted by valkyryn at 8:56 AM on July 9, 2008


According to some of the women I know, my dick is very similar to an Atom Bomb.

Its aftermath is feared throughout the Marshall Islands?
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:41 AM on July 9, 2008


I'm just in the middle of reading Mary Roach's latest, Bonk, (and loving it) and she has a few paragraphs on the parts of the Malleus Maleficarum dealing with penis theft.
Authorities quoted in Malleus Maleficarum disagree as to whether the organ is truly gone or the bewitched individual is simply under the sway of a perceptual illusion that causes him to believe it's gone. The author quotes an unnamed venerable Dominican father who, during a confession, hears a parishioner confide that he has "lost his member" to withcraft. The priest relates that he asked the lad to remove his clothes, so that he might, likely story, check for the missing part.
The author of Malleus brings up the strange matter of penises stockpiled in bird's nests, which he presents as proof of a literal disappearance. "What then is to be thought of those witches who...sometimes collect male organs in great numbers, as many as twenty or thirty members together, and put them in a bird's nest or shut them up in a box, where they move themselves like living members, and eat oats and corn...
Hmmm 20 0r 30 penises moving around in a box eating corn. Oh those wacky, medieval witches-- they sure knew how to have fun!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:08 PM on July 9, 2008


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