Buttocks

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Buttocks
Human buttocks.jpg
Buttocks of a female (upper) and a male (lower).
LatinClunis
Arterysuperior gluteal artery, inferior gluteal artery
Nervesuperior gluteal nerve, inferior gluteal nerve, superior cluneal nerves, medial cluneal nerves, inferior cluneal nerves
MeSHButtocks
TAA01.1.00.033
FMAFMA:76446
Anatomical terminology
 
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Buttocks
Human buttocks.jpg
Buttocks of a female (upper) and a male (lower).
LatinClunis
Arterysuperior gluteal artery, inferior gluteal artery
Nervesuperior gluteal nerve, inferior gluteal nerve, superior cluneal nerves, medial cluneal nerves, inferior cluneal nerves
MeSHButtocks
TAA01.1.00.033
FMAFMA:76446
Anatomical terminology

The buttocks (singular: buttock) are two rounded portions of the anatomy, located on the posterior of the pelvic region of apes and humans, and many other bipeds or quadrupeds, and comprise a layer of fat superimposed on the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles. Physiologically, the buttocks enable weight to be taken off the feet while sitting. In many cultures, they play a role in sexual attraction.[1] Many cultures have also used them as a safe target for corporal punishment.[2] There are several connotations of buttocks in art, fashion, culture and humor, and the English language is replete with many popular synonyms. In humans they are located between the lower back and the perineum.

Anatomy

The buttocks are formed by the masses of the gluteal muscles or "glutes" (the gluteus maximus muscle and the gluteus medius muscle) superimposed by a layer of fat. The superior aspect of the buttock ends at the iliac crest, and the lower aspect is outlined by the horizontal gluteal crease. The gluteus maximus has two insertion points: 13 superior portion of the linea aspera of the femur, and the superior portion of the iliotibial tractus. The masses of the gluteus maximus muscle are separated by an intermediate intergluteal cleft or "crack" in which the anus is situated.

The buttocks allow primates to sit upright without needing to rest their weight on their feet as four-legged animals do. Females of certain species of baboon have red buttocks that blush to attract males. In the case of humans, females tend to have proportionally wider and thicker buttocks due to higher subcutaneous fat and proportionally wider hips.

Some baboons and all gibbons, though otherwise fur-covered, have characteristic naked callosities on their buttocks. While human children generally have smooth buttocks, mature males and females have varying degrees of hair growth, as on other parts of their body. Females may have hair growth in the gluteal cleft (including around the anus), sometimes extending laterally onto the lower aspect of the cheeks. Males may have hair growth over some or all of the buttocks.

Society and culture

Connotations

Students at Stanford University conduct a "mass-mooning" in May 1995

The English word of Greek origin "callipygian" indicates someone who has beautiful buttocks. However, the qualities that make buttocks beautiful or well-formed are not fixed, as sexual aesthetics of the buttocks vary considerably from culture to culture, from one period of fashion to another and even from person to person.

Depending on the context, exposure of the buttocks in non-intimate situations can cause feelings of embarrassment or humiliation, and embarrassment or amusement in an onlooker (see pantsing).

Willfully exposing one's own bare buttocks as a protest, a provocation, or just for fun is called mooning.

In many punitive traditions, the buttocks are a common target for corporal punishment, which can be meted out with no risk of long-term physical harm compared with the dangers of applying it to other parts of the body, such as the hands, which could easily be damaged.[3] The buttocks have often been described as "the place provided by nature" for this purpose.[2]

In Western and some other cultures, many comedians, writers and others rely on the buttocks as a source of amusement, camaraderie and fun.

In American English, phrases use the buttocks or synonyms (especially "butt" and "ass") as a synecdoche or pars pro toto for a whole person, often with a negative connotation. For example, terminating an employee may be described as "firing his ass". One might say "move your ass" or "haul ass" as an exhortation to greater haste or urgency. Expressed as a function of punishment, defeat or assault becomes "kicking one's ass". Such phrases also may suggest a person's characteristics, e.g. difficult people are termed "hard asses". In America an annoying person or any source of frustration may be termed "a pain in the ass" (a synonym for "a pain in the neck"). People deemed excessively puritanical or proper may be termed "tight asses" (in Australia and New Zealand, "tight arse" refers to someone who is excessively miserly).

Certain physical dispositions of the buttocks—particularly size—are sometimes identified, controversially, as a racial characteristic (see race). The most famous intersection of racism and buttocks may be the case of Saartjie Baartman, the so-called Hottentot Venus.

Synonyms

See WikiSaurus:buttocks for a list of synonyms and slang words for buttocks in many languages. For unrelated homophones of butt(ocks), see also butt (disambiguation) and bud (disambiguation)
Seattle's naked cyclists with painted buttocks
Japanese man in a traditional swimwear Fundoshi-rokushaku

The Latin name for the buttocks is nates (modern pronunciation /ˈntz/ NAY-teez,[4] classical pronunciation nătes NAH-tayz[5]) which is plural; the singular, natis (buttock), is rarely used. There are many colloquial terms to refer to them, including:

Related terms

Fashion

The 1880s were well-known for the fashion trend among women called the bustle, which made even the smallest buttocks appear huge. The popularity of this fashion is shown in the famous Georges Seurat painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte in the two women to the far left and right. Like long underwear with the ubiquitous 'butt flap' (used to allow baring only the bottom with a simple gesture, as for hygiene), this clothing style was acknowledged in popular media such as cartoons and comics for generations afterward.

More recently, the cleavage of the buttocks is sometimes exposed by some women, deliberately or accidentally, as fashion dictated trousers be worn lower, as with hip-hugger pants.

An example of another attitude in an otherwise hardly exhibitionist culture is the Japanese fundoshi.

In popular culture

See also

References

Notes
  1. ^ Hennig, Jean-Luc (1995). The rear view: A brief and elegant history of bottoms through the ages. London: Souvenir. ISBN 0-285-63303-1. 
  2. ^ a b "Police.". The Times (London). 22 March 1894. ""Mr. Curtis Bennett deprecated caning on the hands and boxing the ears, and said they were exceedingly dangerous forms of punishment. Nature provided a special place for boys to be punished upon and it should be used." 
  3. ^ Zeno Chicarilli, M.D. et al. "Corporal Punishment to Children's Hands: A Statement by Medical Authorities as to the Risks". NoSpank.net. 3 January 2002.
  4. ^ "nates - Definitions from Dictionary.com". 
  5. ^ A New Dictionary of the Latin and English Languages, published Ward, Lock & Co., London, 1908 name="WardLock"
  6. ^ "Pétanque. La Fanny, Légende". Laboulebleue.fr. Retrieved 2011-12-18. 
  7. ^ "Hong Kong Lifestyle Brand G.O.D. Puts The "Moon" In Mooncakes". Jing Daily. 29 August 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
Sources

External links