Monday, October 1, 2012

Top Models and Mule Orgasms

Okay, so I owe everyone an apology for not updating the blog sooner except, of course, for those of you who hate the blog and wish I'd never update it again to whom I say:  sorry, dudes!  I haven't disappeared yet.

Anyway, this is not a real blog post, but a post about why I haven't been posting.  Basically, a new book by Terry Pratchett came out and so all of my free time must be spent reading that book.  Because it's by Terry Pratchett, that's why.  Terry Pratchett, greatest living satirist in the world.

Suck on that, Garry Trudeau.

Also, I have been terribly distracted by a post on the Chronicle of Higher Education forums.  This is a place where academics (loosely defined as professors, graduate students, administrators, undergraduates and anyone else who decides to call him- or herself an academic) congregate to hold pseudonymous conversations about the profession.

Except that it's really not that boring, and every once in a while something about mule orgasms comes up.


Yes, mule orgasms.  In one thread, someone claimed to overhear another professor ask a class what happens when a mule orgasms.  Unfortunately, the listener did not overhear the answer, which is, I have to tell you, a horrific example of eavesdropping gone awry.  I mean, what does happen when a mule orgasms?  Isn't it just what happens when any other more-or-less horse-shaped entity does so?  But if that were the case, why would this unknown instructor bother to ask his or her class this question?

So far, I have received no satisfactory answer from the denizens of the Chronicle of Higher Education fora.  Therefore, I e-mailed my biologist friend and colleague, Tracie, to ask if she could possibly enlighten me.  But, wait!  Tracie is a relatively new faculty member, and what if she thinks that my question is some shamefully ineffective form of sexual harassment?  I mean, what would you think, dearest readers, if someone e-mailed you with no warning asking what happens when a mule orgasms?  You'd be worried, wouldn't you?

I'm a little worried myself, actually.

And Tracie has not yet responded to my query, even though I made sure to explain that I am not sexually harassing her, but that due to the Chronicle of Higher Education I cannot concentrate on my classes because I keep thinking of mule orgasms.

And I'm pretty sure that it was this distracting CHE thread that inspired me to show images from the Steampunk fashion shoot on Friday's America's Next Top Model episode in class today.  Okay, don't judge me too harshly.   The class is on steampunk fiction, and we're spending this week talking about art and fashion, and at least there were no mules anywhere doing anything in those photos, and showing them kept me from mentioning this mule orgasm quandary to innocent students and therefore getting fired or at least getting the head-shake-and-sigh from my dean.

In other words, ladies and gentlemen, today Tyra Banks saved my morning class from orgasmic mules.


I have received the following response from Tracie:

"For males, that’s an easy question to answer: ejaculation. Even though they are sterile, male mules can still ejaculate; they just don’t produce any offspring from these matings. It’s my understanding that there isn’t a complete agreement over whether other female animals have orgasms at all, though I feel like female mammals should at least have the capacity for such, as they have clitorises (clitori?). At any rate, I am not aware of any animals (save us) who have outward presentation of female orgasm. There are only a handful of mammals who have sex outside of a discrete breeding season (e.g. bonobos, dolphins I think).

Enjoyed your question and the opportunity to ponder orgasm on a rainy Monday morning." 

So Tracie is completely awesome, obviously.  And if anyone would like to confirm the plural of clitoris, I'm sure that we would all be grateful. 


Yet a further update!  

According to a correspondent who is far too intelligent to want even his, her or its first name on this blog: "Clitoris is from the Greek κλειτορις, which is third declension and feminine, so the plural of clitoris would be clitorides."

Don't think of this as useless information, dear readers.  Think of it as a way to finally make light conversation with the next gynecologist you meet.  You're welcome.



  1. Wait a sec, you're teaching a whole class on steampunk fiction? How awesome is that!

    Do you have any advice for such a class? My students will be reading Cherie Priest's Dreadnought at the end of the semester (as part of a class on popular fiction), and I've been ruminating about how to approach the steampunk phenomenon/genre.


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  2. I started by picking one of the last 70s novels (in this case Morlock Night) which I paired with a few excerpts from Wells' Time Machine), then I've moved on to the anthology Steampunk II, plus a section on art, fashion and music, mostly going chronologically. This is a first-year course, so it's mostly short fiction with a heavy concentration on writing and revision.

  3. So the thing that K. gleaned from the mule orgasm blog post is that you're teaching a class on Steampunk? I am impressed.

  4. Clearly, steampunk fiction is more exciting than mule orgasms. Except, possibly, to mules.