My mind wanders, and to very odd places sometimes. Maybe it’s because I’m an author; or perhaps it’s why I’m an author … I’m not even sure if there’s a difference.
This time it wandered to the notions of male power and phallic symbolism.
Certain people see phalluses everywhere they look and decide this is signs of male dominance. If that’s the case, then perhaps it’s also a sign of God‘s gender, because the criterion I’ve encountered in scholarly attempts at these kinds of arguments really seem to amount to “anything even vaguely cylindrical is a phallus”.
Case in point: A critique of the Little House books that I don’t recall terribly well, but it relied on the idea that Pa’s rifle was, in some way, symbolic of both his penis and his power. Funnily enough, I strongly suspect that it was a symbol of nothing at all, and was a factual hollowed tube of metal which lobbed high velocity chunks of lead for the purposes of self-defence and obtaining of meats.
Really, by this same reasoning, dolphins are phallic symbols, elephants’ trunks are …
Thing is, some things just need to be cylinders or approximately so. A streamlined shape for going through water? Phallic. A streamlined way to fill something up with high explosives so that it can reach escape velocity in a vertical orientation? Phallic. What other shape would you have them be?
I saw an image of a woman standing beside a taxi she’d made up to look like a vagina — it was interesting, but you must admit, not terribly aerodynamic.
True, yes, we are in a patriarchal society; true, yes, men do hold greater power than women (at least in Western culture, there are exceptions on some of the non-Western societies as I understand them); true, yes, symbolism can exist in certain things. I just find it so amusing that so many feminists have penises on the mind to such extent that when they see a portabello they see a man’s genitals.
This isn’t to say that, at times, penises are’t hiding places; either by design, mistake, or a bit of both. Whether or not they’re symbolic of anything, I’m sure, varies. Some fantasy book covers of a few decades ago? Those towers and castles that look like towers and castles, nah; some of the more creative ones that … maybe at first glance might be modelled after mushrooms … look again, few mushrooms have a small slit at the point — that’s a penis. A gun, no — a projectile weapon of that sort can’t help its shape; until we have particle beam weapons there’s no other pragmatic form, after that we can start maybe shaping them like trumpets since we may want to accelerate the particles or beams before ejecting them … still a ray-gun modelled after a pistol or rifle is just to keep it recognisable … the rayguns of more than a few 50s pulp SF mags and novels which had that odd little, shall we say ‘knob’ on the end? Mmm-hmmm …
I honestly believe, especially in the case of the book covers, that a lot more of it is sophomoric silliness than any malicious anti-feminism. I might be wrong, certainly wouldn’t be the first time; but such is life. I just think that in the case of being taken seriously in a matter it is wise to think over the arguments in question. That needless phallic symbols are places is undeniable, but are they malicious or childish? The former is certainly a terrible thing, the latter is certainly foolish and rude, but hardly a statement against anyone’s rights. It’s a reversable thing — making vaginal symbolism for malicious purposes makes you no better than the penis-mongers, making it to be sophomoric makes you no more clever, but it can also be used to make a positive and important statement — it all comes down to intent combined with reasonable interpretation. But first you just have to relax and ask yourself: is this a cigar or a big brown dick, to paraphrase George Carlin.
- Is it a crime to text a picture of your penis tattoo that reads “STRONG E nuf 4 A MAN BUT Made 4 A WOMAN.” (althouse.blogspot.com)
- Psychoanalysis is Abundant in our Advertisements (lisztomanium.wordpress.com)
- Recommended reading for April, from Natalia, the children’s book expert, Blackwell bookshops (gltc.co.uk)
- In Bhutan, Phallus Worship Revives Among New Generation Of Religious Followers (PHOTOS) (scooprocket.com)
- Penis fascination. (batemate.wordpress.com)