Recently, I wrote a short piece on the fragrant anal glands of beavers. Who would have thought that this topic would get such attention; yet, it did. Anyway, questions were emailed–some that would make my 81-year-old mother gasp in horror (or someone else’s mother as mine had no problem reading the three volumes of 50 Shades of Grey).
The most popular question posed to me, as if I were some kind of expert on this stuff, was “How did the word beaver become associated with lady parts?”
I paraphrased that question as some people were not so gentle in how they asked it. Despite the graphic nature of the inquiries, I decided to do research. After all, I am a journalist by training and while I was neither a sex journalist nor an investigative journalist, I did cover the rural woods and farm beat which put me in touch with a lot of beavers – AND I MEAN THE ANIMAL IN THE FOREST.
Originally, I thought that the lady parts term had to be established in the 1970s. Why? Well, that was the era of sex, drugs and anything goes, but the real reason I thought it originated in the 70s was because they made a show in the 50s and 60s called Leave it to Beaver. Who writes a wholesome family sitcom with the main character named Beaver if that name has a smutty connotation to it? As it turns out, someone in Hollywood has a dirty mind (go figure) because the smutty term beaver has been around a lot longer than the 1950s.
Get ready to take notes because as I am only teaching this once:
In the 17th century, women of ill-repute would shave their nether regions to rid themselves of lice and other vermin. (I know I went to catholic school my entire life but how many vermin can live in that little area?) Many of these women were also affected with Syphilis. To hide the signs of said disease, they would have a Merkin made for them which was a pubic wig made out of beaver pelts. I am not making this up. Here is a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merkin.
The second theory proposed through the years originates in the 1920s in England, where bearded men – who were a rare breed–were called Beavers. I don’t know how it jumped from a man’s face to…well, you know… but it did and thus the term stuck.
You can believe either theory or none at all. All I know is that the poor little animal that does nothing but build his dams and frolic in the woods is now tainted. Anything that was ever named for him takes abuse too. How unfair is that? I say, we come up with a new word, and for once can it have a positive and not dehumanizing tone to it? Let’s free the beaver and women from this embarrassing moniker.
I am not sure if this is a suitable platform for a congressional race, but my gut says it would fit in well with politics today. I wonder if we found a candidate to take on this cause, if we could propel said candidate to Capitol Hill and beyond. If no one has a suggestion might I toss the name Jerry Mathers of Leave it to Beaver fame around. If anyone understands the beaver’s plight, it would be him.