Ever wonder why Mickey Mouse never had any kids? Maybe it was those silly pants.
Let’s not even consider whether his lack of style turned Minnie off. Mickey may have failed to score because of the fabric of his red shorts.
Sound goofy? Well, that’s the finding of a 1993 study on the effect of textiles on the sexual activity of rats, Mickey’s fellow rodents.
Sexologist Ahmed Shafik of Cairo made 60 lab rats wear pants for a year, and he determined that they saw less action when wearing polyester shorts. Shafik passed away in 2007, but his findings are garnering attention this week after they earned a posthumous Ig Nobel Prize on Thursday night.
The Ig Nobels, a tradition at Harvard University, honor some of the strangest academic research in the world ― or as the award’s founders put it, “discoveries that cannot, or should not, be reproduced.”
“Shafik perfectly fulfilled the requirements to win an Ig Nobel Prize: his experiments make people first laugh, then think,” said Marc Abrahams, editor of The Annals of Improbable Research, the organization that hands out the awards.
To determine how pants affect male rats, Shafik actually dressed 60 of his subjects in special rat underwear made out of either 100 percent polyester, 100 percent cotton, 100 percent wool or a 50/50 polyester-cotton blend.
This illustration from the original paper shows how the pants looked on the rats, though it doesn’t show the opening in the back that allowed them to poop without dropping their shorts.
The lab rats wore these bun huggers for a year ― they were only changed when the pants became soiled.
It turned out different textiles had an effect on how much the rats catted around. The rats in 100 percent polyester mounted and ejaculated less than those wearing cotton, wool or the poly blend.
That makes sense to anyone who came of age in the 1970s and saw all the lounge lizards in polyester suits at the singles bars. They had a lot less sex as well.
But Shafik didn’t blame the rats’ style for their lack of animal magnetism.
He hypothesized that the polyester created electrostatic fields that negatively affected germ cells in the testicles and in the epididymis, the duct that connects the testicles to the vas deferens. Rats, and many other males, need germ cells to produce sperm.
“A negative charge is created on the inner surface of the pants and a positive one on the outer surface of the penile skin in contact with the pants.”
Luckily, those effects can be reversed within a year by simply not wearing polyester or polyester blends.
Shafik believed these findings could be important to his fellow Egyptian men, many of them apparently wore polyester clothing commando-style.
Shafik didn’t drop the research after he tested it on rats, according to Pacific Standard. Three years later, he tested the hypothesis on 50 men and concluded that “polyester underpants could have an injurious effect on human sexual activity.”
The complete study appears below: