Posted by: cochinblogger | October 11, 2010

Why Men Have Nipples

Last week, as I was helping my younger son get into his night clothes, he pointed to his nipples and asked, “What are these called?” I was prepared, as I’d been in this position before and learned my lessons (see A Penile Conversation between Father and Son). Without hesitating, I replied that they were called nipples. However, I did add the following — perhaps cowardly — rider: “Please don’t say the word out aloud. It’s not a part of the body that’s talked about in polite society.”

He bent down to pull up his pajamas. I was floored by his next question: “But, appa, what are they for?”

My thoughts briefly went to what I knew about the developing fetus in the womb, and the onset of sexual differentiation by a biochemical switch. The basic design template is the same for both the male and the female, and the throwing of the biochemical switch triggers separate developmental trajectories for the male and the female. (In fact, the same biochemical building blocks are found in the bacterium and the human; all life-forms are related.) That was all I could recall.

But the idea was clearly beyond a 7-year-old’s mind.

I grunted once, and then again, the time-honored parental escape route. Fortunately, by then he was more interested in going to bed.


  1. Cute post. 🙂

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