It is my informal observation that the majority of our existence revolves around male genitalia, or the lack there of. I am not inserting any personal sentiment here…just telling it like it is. My pondering on the topic was prompted by the comment made by “David Dwight,” the antagonist, if you will, in Faith Baldwin’s 1931 novel Skyscraper:
‘A skyscraper is a little city, it is a little world, it is a strange planet,’ he went on smoothly. ‘A phallic symbol. Yet it is also a new pattern against the sky; it is all of ordered beauty and upward growth that many of the workers within shall never know. And it must influence them, whether they are aware of it or not.” (70)
Not only does this quote serve a the inspiration for this post with its “phallic” symbolism, but it also reflects the degree in which this analogy applies to various other cultural aspects–not just the skyscraper. Actually, for me, it was harder find things that didn’t relate somehow to this notion of phallocentrism.
Over the past few weeks we have debated, analyzed, contemplated, and criticized various aspects of city life and culture. With that being said, it with confidence that I make this claim: This is a penes’ world–vaginas just live in.
I should probably clarify that, by “penes’ world,” I’m speaking primarily in a figurative sense: It’s not the penis, per se, that penetrates (pun intended…I couldn’t resist) society, but rather the implications and/or influences associated with it.
In 1931, the year Skyscraper was published, women in literature were often vessels for vicarious indulgences, examples of how/how not to behave, and/ or phallic targets of carnal desire…Has this changed? My immediate response is: Maybe, in some aspects.
In the media they were, for the most part, either fetishized or punished…
Women in reality were essentially glorified nannies or selfish social deviants who chose a career over domestic servitude.
Today, while women are still preferred to be aesthetically pleasing, their virtue is more of a bonus than a requirement, and pursuing a career is now a natural progression, not a social taboo. However! while the standards may have changed, the phallus remains.
Here’s a small bit evidence:
This is (still) not ok…