SierraGuy English1102-62Dr.Antiwan WalkerJanuary29, 2018Susan Bordo’s what is a phallus?Before reading Susan Bordo’s workwhenever I heard the word phallus I would automatically think of the anatomicalpenis. However, I have learned that thephallus is actually a social construct. Phallus pertains to a male’s dominanceand superiority.
In today’s society it feels as though males are trying toachieve this unattainable goal of manhood. Trying to reach this goal has causeda lot of men to exhibit toxic masculinity. I feel as though the idea of thephallus plays into the construct of toxic masculinity. “…The phallus stands forthe a superiority that is distinctively connected with maleness. But unlikethem, the phallus stands, not for the superior fitness of an individual maleover other men, but for generic male superiority- not only over females butalso over other species.
” (Bordo, p89) This goes to show that the phallus is incompetition with everyone, in order to feel superior or good about oneself themale must exert their dominance over all sexes. Men are not born with this phallusworship thinking they are taught it if not by their fathers then by society.Phallic worshipping is evident in ads, books, movies, television, etc. When itcomes to advertising they are not showing off the anatomical penis but theconcept of the phallus, something that is big, curious, and exciting. Bordogoes on to say that this type of advertising is damaging to men because itholds their manhood to an impossible ideal.
I found this interesting becausewhen we think of ads and models we generally think of the impossible standardsthat they bring on women but not men. Before this reading I just looked at anof a male model as hot, but now I can look at it and think about what this adis saying to men who may not have the abs or the bulge that the model isdisplaying. A portion of the reading that I foundinteresting is how women can adopt a phallus mentality as well as men. Women inthe gay community who may use dildos can experience a sense of dominance orwomen who have proven themselves in a male dominated setting can find theirphallus. For example, in G.I.
Janewhen Demi Moore’s character says “Suck my dick!” to her superior after taking abeating. She knew she was not wanted, but she stood her ground and took abeating “like a man” and because of that she felt as though she earned herphallus, in that moment she was the dominant one. Bordo goes on to speak aboutone of her students who cross-dressed and how it changed her personality. Thinkingback to my senior year of high school when we had gender bender day, I dressedup as a male. Realizing that my actions were completely different than when Idressed as myself. I walked differently, sat differently, I was quieter andwhen I did talk it was at a slower pace, my whole demeanor was opposite to myfemme self. Mainpoint: The Phallus is a social construct. It’s an impossible standard thatmales try to live up to, in order to show their superiority and dominance.
Butthe phallus is not real TopicSentences:1) Males use their bodies as advertisement 2) In the beginning construct of the phallusis was worshipped for its “bio” qualities 3) The anatomical penis is hidden away inour culture, but phallic symbolism is everywhere.4) Phallic symbolism is subjective. 5) The phallus and penis work against eachother.6) The penis is considered a phallus once itbecomes an object of respect or awe.7) When one tries to over display theirmasculinity they are no longer taken seriously, they become a joke. Which isironic because that is the opposite reaction they are trying to receive. 8) The “masculinist phallus” isself-absorbed and narcissistic.
9) The “butch phallus” considers the otherpersons needs and feelings. 10) You don’t need to have a penis in orderto possess phallic authority. It requires cultural acceptance and the exerciseof attitude. Examples:1) Males use their bodies as advertisement.For instance, “unless one is a manual laborer, muscles have little use value inour management and service-oriented culture, the potency of muscles resideslargely in their cultural meanings.” (Bordo, p88)2) In the beginning construct of the phalluswas worshipped for its “bio” qualities.
For example, the ancient meaning of thephallus by the American Heritage Dictionary is “representation of the penis andtestes as an embodiment of generative power.” (Bordo, p89)3) The anatomical penis is hidden away inour culture, but phallic symbolism is everywhere. For instance, when grown menbuild skyscrapers or rockets that closely resemble erect penises. Also,scientists and defense intellectuals speaking in penile metaphors whendescribing bombs and rockets.
“…The mushroom top was even more alive than hepillar, seething and boiling white fury of creamy foam, sizzling upward andthen descending downward…” (Bordo,p91-92)4) Phallic symbolism is subjective. Forinstance, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. To others the cigar is a symbol ofmasculinity. 5) The phallus and penis work against eachother. For example, the phallus is ” a majestic imaginary member, against whichno man’s penis can ever measure up.” “Paradoxically, at the same time thepenis- is capable of being soft as well as hard, helpless as well as proud,emotionally needy as well as masterful sexual performer- also haunts phallicauthority, threatens its undoing.” (Bordo, p95) Terms:Jargon- “special words or expressions that are used by aparticular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand”Reverence- “deep respect for something or someone”Ostentatious- “characterized by vulgar or pretentiousdisplay; designed to impress or attract notice”Banal- “lacking in originality as to be obvious andboring”Omnipotent- “having unlimited power; able to doanything”