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.
Genital modification and mutilation
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. In 19th-century Russia, the Skoptsy sect of Christianity performed emasculation, which they termed the "greater seal".
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.  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. In the 19th century, the surviving sons and grandson of rebel Yaqub Beg were punished by being emasculated and enslaved. The last Imperial eunuch was Sun Yaoting, who died in 1996. 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. 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. During the late 19th century, the French used the existence of eunuchs in Vietnam to degrade the Vietnamese. For more information on emasculation in Vietnam, see Castration in Vietnam.
Middle East and Africa
In the modern day
In the Bible
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," Explained by the Rabbis to mean that he cannot marry a daughter of Israel)
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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..."
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