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WHERE IS MY PENIS BONE? And do humans have boring sex?


Science Communicator, Kirsten Flint, has set about to answer a question in her latest FRINGE WORLD show, Where is My Penis Bone?, that perhaps you never thought about: why don’t humans have penis bones and does this mean that we have boring sex? Flint, who also works as a Customer Insights Officer at Scitech and is armed with a Masters of Science Communications, shares her fascination for penis bones and the lack thereof in homo sapiens during her adults only part stand-up comedy, part educational science talk, Where is My Penis Bone?. Conveniently it starts on Valentine’s Day, February 14, and runs till February 17 at Lazy Susan’s Comedy Den. Flint chats with CHERYL LIM about her research findings and the potential for her show to be a ‘public service’ for humans and their sex lives.

Gorillas have penis bones and chimps have them too, but homo sapiens don’t. How does the lack of a penis bone impact on human sex?

The fact that humans don’t have a bone in their penises, but other great apes do, is more of an indication that humans have (for one to two million years) been having boring sex. And that’s not based on personal anecdotes, that’s based on real scientific research. Humans used to have a penis bone but we lost it somewhere along our evolutionary journey to where we are today. Would sex be better if human penises still had their bones? I for one don’t miss it.

You work as a Customer Insights Officer at Scitech and have a Masters of Science Communications. As a science communicator, I believe you love thinking about why people behave the way they do. How did your fascination for unusual science facts begin and what fueled your fascination for the lack of penis bones in humans?

As a youngster, I suckled on the teat of the BBC. Endless hours of David Attenborough docos inspired my curiosity about the natural world. But nature becomes very weird almost as soon as you ask “why is it like that?”. Very often the answer is to do with sex. Every animal is simply preoccupied with passing its genes on to the next generation. My show looks at just some of the bizarre lengths that animals have gone to in order to come out on top. Humans get so used to our own bodies that we forget to wonder “why is it like that?”. That’s why it’s interesting to talk about the penis. It’s a marvel of evolutionary biology just dangling (mostly innocuously) in front of us.

I’m sure your knowledge of penis bones and human mating behaviour makes you an intriguing conversationalist at dinner parties. Are people generally fascinated and do they ask questions about it or do you find that they can be a little tongue tied or embarrassed to discuss the topic?

I get a range of responses. I find people tend to be more comfortable with the topic when I explain that my show looks at penises through the lens of science. I think it’s because the natural world isn’t judgemental. Evolution doesn’t care about right or wrong, decent or indecent; Morals don’t exist. There are only adaptations that work (survival of the fittest) and adaptations that don’t work.

Throughout your research of phallic evolution are there any other discoveries you have made that surprised you, and will probably surprise us too? 

Well, I never actually knew the real reason that erections work. The high school sex ed explanation doesn’t really do it justice. That’s probably been the biggest surprise, it’s definitely changed the way I look at the penis.

You’ve said that your show Where is My Penis Bone? is a ‘public service’ that you’re providing to humans and will increase their likelihood of impressing potential lovers. How do you think demystifying sex through science education can actually improve sex lives?

I certainly wouldn’t say that I’m in a position to improve the sex lives of others but I’m more than happy to provide some hot factoids that will get the ball rolling. I don’t think anything is more attractive than intelligence. So perhaps, dear reader, if your usual pick-up lines have been failing you, consider coming to Where is my Penis Bone? and learn some juicy new facts then lay them on a hottie at the bar afterwards. Worst-case scenario, you both learn new things and understand better what it means to be a human being. Best case scenario? I’ll leave that to your imagination. Of course then again, a lot of the questions I pose in the show (could you impale yourself on your own penis bone?) might serve more as a turnoff.

Would you say that science can be elitist and comedy is a good way to break down the barriers to understanding who we are?

I think science can be perceived as elitist. As a discipline, science is definitely more accessible to a certain kind of person. Whilst scientists work incredibly hard to continually discover more about their chosen field, it requires a certain level of privilege to get into the sciences in the first place. But I strongly believe that science should be for everyone and that the world would be in much better shape if everyone had equal access to it. By ‘access’ I don’t just mean getting into a laboratory. Having access to science also includes a personal feeling that science is ‘for you’, a feeling like it’s a world in which you could belong. There are many people doing much more serious work to ensure everyone has access to science. This show is my silly contribution to breaking down some of the elitist barriers between science and the real world. I believe sex and humour – two things understood well by most adult humans – can go a long way in making science feel more relatable to the general public.

In a calculated move, your adults only show, Where is My Penis Bone?, opens on Valentine’s Day. Is the show relevant to singles as well as couples and what can people expect at your Fringe offering: part stand-up comedy and part science lecture?

The show is relevant to all humankind. Come by yourself, come on a date, come in a group – whatever does it for you. You can expect some lighthearted science talk, a little adult humour and a well-curated PowerPoint (you can’t have a show about penises without a slideshow now can you?)

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