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Emasculation of a human male is the removal of both the penis and the testicles, the external male sex organs. Depending on the context, this may be seen as consensual body modification, or non-consensual genital mutilation.

The term can also refer more generally to anything that renders a male less masculine.

Genital modification and mutilationEdit

In historyEdit


In Medieval Europe, emasculation was used as a form of punishment. It was sometimes done when a person was hanged, drawn and quartered, a form of execution by torture.[1] In 19th-century Russia, the Skoptsy sect of Christianity performed emasculation, which they termed the "greater seal".[2]

East AsiaEdit

In ancient China, emasculation was performed as a punishment up until the Sui dynasty and Tang dynasty. Additionally, some men underwent the procedure as means of becoming employed as an imperial servant or bureaucrat.[3][4][5][6] In English, the word eunuch is generally used to refer to these Chinese people who underwent emasculation, and they are often referred to as having been "castrated" rather than "emasculated". As of the Qing dynasty, emasculation was still performed in China. Zheng He, a Ming dynasty noted admiral of the imperial navy was castrated as a boy. In the 19th century, the surviving sons and grandson of rebel Yaqub Beg were punished by being emasculated and enslaved.[7][8] The last Imperial eunuch was Sun Yaoting, who died in 1996.[9] For more information on emasculation in China, see Castration in China.

The ancient Vietnamese adopted China's practice of emasculation and the use of eunuchs as servants and slaves for the monarchy. The procedure was reportedly very painful as both the testicles and penis were removed.[10] In 1838, Minh Mạng, Emperor of Vietnam, made a law that said only adult men of high social standing could be emasculated. In the end, most eunuchs ended up being men who had been born with genital abnormalities and then handed over to the authorities.[11][12] During the late 19th century, the French used the existence of eunuchs in Vietnam to degrade the Vietnamese.[13] For more information on emasculation in Vietnam, see Castration in Vietnam.

The Khitan people of northeast Asia also adopted the Chinese practice of emasculating slaves.[14]

Middle East and AfricaEdit

In the Arab slave trade, enslaved men and boys from East Africa were often "castrated" by removing both the penis and testicles.[15]

In the modern dayEdit

On the Indian subcontinent, some members of hijra communities reportedly undergo emasculation. It is called nirwaan and seen as a rite of passage.[16]

In the United States, males in the Nullo subculture voluntarily undergo emasculation.[17]

In the BibleEdit

In the Old Testament:

No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD.
 — Deuteronomy 23:1 (ESV)
("...shall not enter the assembly of the Lord" is claimed by rabbis to mean that he cannot marry a daughter of Israel.)[18][19]

Other meaningsEdit

By extension, the word emasculation has also come to mean rendering a male less masculine, including by humiliation. It can also mean to deprive anything of vigour or effectiveness. This figurative usage has become more common than the literal meaning. For example: "William Lewis Hughes voted for Folkestone’s amendment to Curwen’s emasculated reform bill, 12 June 1809..."[20]

In horticulture, the removal of male (pollen) parts of a plant, largely for controlled pollination and breeding purposes, is also called emasculation.[21]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Bellamy 1979, pp. 202–204
  2. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Skoptsi" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  3. ^ Vern L. Bullough (2001). "Sterilization". Encyclopedia of birth control. ABC-CLIO. p. 248. ISBN 978-1-57607-181-6. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  4. ^ "The Journal of the American Medical Association". Journal of the American Medical Association. 39 (1): 235. 1902. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  5. ^ Walter Scheidel (2009). Rome and China: Comparative Perspectives on Ancient World Empires. Oxford University Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-19-533690-0. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  6. ^ Guido Majno (1991). The Healing Hand: Man and Wound in the Ancient World. Harvard University Press. p. 254. ISBN 978-0-674-38331-9. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  7. ^ Translations of the Peking Gazette. 1880. p. 83. Retrieved 12 May 2011 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ The American annual cyclopedia and register of important events of the year ..., Volume 4. D. Appleton and Company. 1888. p. 145. Retrieved 12 May 2011 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Chatterton, Jocelyn; Bultitude, Matthew. "Castration; The eunuchs of Qing dynasty China; A Medical and Historical Review". De Historia Urologiae Europaeae. 15: 39–47. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  10. ^ Theo Ngoi (5 October 2012). "Chuyện 'tịnh thân' hãi hùng của thái giám Việt xưa" [The fear of the "pure body" of the old Vietnamese eunuch]. Việt Báo. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  11. ^ Barbara Watson Andaya (2006). The Flaming Womb: Repositioning Women in Early Modern Southeast Asia. University of Hawaii Press. p. 177. ISBN 9780824829551 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ Alexander Woodside (1988) [1971]. Vietnam and the Chinese Model: A Comparative Study of Vietnamese and Chinese Government in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century. Harvard Univ Asia Center. p. 66. ISBN 9780674937215 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ Peter N Stearns (2006). "Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China". Gender in World History. Taylor & Francis. p. 1. ISBN 9780203969892.
  14. ^ Barbara Bennett Peterson, ed. (2000). "Empress Dowager Xiao". Notable Women of China: Shang Dynasty to the Early Twentieth Century. M.E. Sharpe. p. 259. ISBN 9780765619297. Retrieved 24 April 2014 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ Murray Gordon (1989). Slavery in the Arab World. Companions to Asian Studies. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 96. ISBN 9780941533300.
  16. ^ Nanda, Serena (1996) [1994]. "Hijras: An Alternative Sex and Gender Role in India". In Gilbert Herdt (ed.). Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual Dimorphism in Culture and History. Zone Books. pp. 373–418. ISBN 9780942299823.
  17. ^ Davis, Simon (16 October 2014). ""I Still Unload": This Man Is a "Nullo" Who Removed His Penis and Balls". Gawker.
  18. ^ Shulchan Aruch, Eben ha-Ezer 5:1
  19. ^ Ben Maimon, M. (1956). Guide for the Perplexed. Translated by Michael Friedländer (2nd ed.). New York: Dover Publishers. p. 379.
  20. ^ Thorne R. (1986) History of Parliament online. Accessed 12 April 2017
  21. ^ Hedhly, A.; Hormaza, J.I.; Herrero, M. (2009). "Flower emasculation accelerates ovule degeneration and reduces fruit set in sweet cherry". Scientia Horticulturae. 119 (4): 455–457. doi:10.1016/j.scienta.2008.08.020.