Firstly, let’s talk about the fact that balls are literally the most fragile softest part of a man that if hurt they will keel over in deep pain… So why on earth does the saying exist, ‘grow some balls’? And, WHY does it have the connotation that when the ‘said’ balls are grown we will somehow be a stronger version of ourselves, or more badass, or more ‘manly.’

Let’s deep dive into the balls to understand this... it seems to be rooted in the idea of perceived masculinity. That men are strong and brave and because they carry this dangly appendage that this instantly gives them this braveness or courage to do lots of powerful and strong and manly things. BTW, it seems that nowhere and no one on the interwebs knows where this cute saying actually came from or started. 

Okay good, now we know that it’s rooted in the idea of what it is to be ‘manly’. We can officially unbutton our jeans like we do after a big feed and relax, because… guess what? All humans have the same heart, stomach and brain that evolved over millions of years and therefore we all have the SAME ability to think and feel equally. We all have the same ability to choose to be brave, to choose courage no matter what part of the gender spectrum we are on and no matter what shape our appendage is. So boys, just because you’re dangly doesn’t mean you’re instantly brave. And girls, just because you’re neatly tucked away doesn’t mean you’re not brave or courageous. AND, any person in between just because you’re unique, doesn’t mean your bits have anything to do with the amount of courage you have.  

Also, don’t just take it from us, Sheng Wang comedian has this to say; A friend said to me, “Hey you need to grow a pair. Grow a pair, Bro.” It’s when someone calls you weak, but they associate it with a lack of testicles. Which is weird, because testicles are the most sensitive things in the world. If you suddenly just grew a pair, you’d be a lot more vulnerable. If you want to be tough, you should lose a pair. If you want to be real tough, you should grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.

This phrase, ‘grow some balls’ is said to all people no matter gender, and when you look at the root of it, it really is all about telling someone to be brave or have courage. We all have times in our lives where we feel fear and taking action through that fear feels almost impossible but it is the human experience and it’s something we all grapple with. 

So maybe the question should be, why do we need to have courage and why do we need to be brave? 

And maybe the answer is something like; we need to be courageous and face our fears in order to grow as a person, we need to take steps forward and to take actions towards our goals and towards creating the world we want to live in. We need to be brave because that’s about being accountable for facing our fears and getting what we want out of our lives. For taking our lives into our own hands and relying on ourselves to make the one chance we’ve got here, amazing. 

Why do we need to help and tell others to be brave and courageous? 

Well, because watching other people take a leap of faith in themselves or growing as a person is incredible. Watching someone's journey to self-actualisation and understanding who they are and what they are meant for, what their purpose is, brings joy. 

Although, it’s sometimes just the acts of courage like; saying I’m sorry when you’ve screwed up or asking for help when you’re struggling. These acts are about being brave and being accountable for yourself and to the people around you. 

So here are some alternative sayings instead of ‘grow some balls’ or ‘grow a pair’ or 'that was ballsy:'

  • Have some guts
  • Be brave
  • You’ve got this
  • Just have 3 seconds of courage
  • It’s normal to feel fear but you can do this
  • You just need to take one small step

Something else interesting about this idea of bravery or courage is that often the fearful feeling we get just before we are brave sits in our stomach. The stomach is often referred to as the second brain. The stomach is the place where we feel many different emotions, thus the saying; go with our gut exists. The idea of going with your gut is about listening to your human instincts or intuition. 

So since we all mostly have the same gut, if we must refer to a body part when asking someone to be brave, maybe think about what it means to have some guts. 

So go forth and be brave… go forth and have guts!

Love your guts - ARNA women leaders

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