Penvy Is A Bad Word, I Swear I Know
December 4, 2008 1 Comment
In a surprising gesture of affection, my cat has decided to take a nap on my back while I type. It is really a gesture for warmth, but I am interpreting it as affection, and that she thinks of me as a really big cat. Queen cat.
Onwards! As the wise have said since the early nineties, let’s talk about sex. Speaking of sex, I was perusing Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint today, and there is an early scene in the sex-addled book where the narrator is constantly masturbating, even jumping up from dinner complaining of a stomachache in order to go masturbate. He’s thirteen, his parents’ are banging down the door of the bathroom, and his mother is desperately worried about the state of his “poopie,” because diarrhea has been his reason for locking the bathroom door. The moment that grabbed my attention (by the way, all the verbs available to me seem overactive in this paragraph–I guess erections have that effect) was that he furiously finishes himself off mostly to prove to himself that while the rest of his life is controlled by his mother, he and his cock can do whatever they want.
And then I was reading on Jezebel today about how there is an argument that men suffer in marriage because they have to stifle their inner douchbaggyness. That they cheat and go to titty bars because their wives control the rest of their world. This again seemed to be refuge in the autonomy of being able to stick a dick somewhere, or as jezebel so aptly says:
That cure, in fact, is to rebel against one’s wife or girlfriend as though she is his mother, lying and doing things that he himself knows are wrong and self-destructive, in order to prove that he is not ruled by anyone but his own penis and sense of self-entitlement.
And so, I realized how novel that idea was to me…the idea of the freedom and self assertion through the actual assertion (dare I say insertion) and pleasuring of a body part–that men feel their are in touch with their power through their prowess of penis (I know, I’m getting carried away). What surprised me about this idea is that I couldn’t quite think of an equivalent as a lady. My interpretation of my sexuality has usually been about granting access (even with oral sex), but never any power in what I could stick and where–never in what I could do to other people as much as what I could allow to be done to me. Which has also led to much more worry about what could be done to me (part of the typical stance of caution and protection). This sounds darker than I mean, but I have to say that it showed me a possible difference in ideas of male and female sexuality that I have accepted as normal. Men might have anxiety about performance, and have to hide erections, but their joy in their body is power and immediate identity. For women, it might be more about growth and acceptance, the joy in the body comes from exploration and a kind of self love (oh! how silly all language gets when masturbation is the topic!)…which seems like it is leading me to a little bit of penis envy…which I think is sloppy logic on my part. What it comes down to is, I don’t think masturbation or rampant doing it is an ultimate “fuck you” to my lack of control. A distraction, yes, but an empowering bordering of my selfhood…not so much.
Speaking of penis envy, I was reading recently about somebody famous going on and on about how men are jealous of women because they can have babies, give life, all that stuff. And yes, women can do those things, but it seemed hilarious to me that nobody famous ever said that men were jealous of women’s menstrual cycles (really, quite an important part of the whole power to give life thing). Which is maybe why I find the ladyparts a less symbolic place for identity and sovereignty. Is it because women are intimate with their bodies on a monthly basis at the unpleasurable demands of menstruation that we accept its vitality and work involved without making it the fulcrum of what we can do in the world? It’s difficult to imagine a girl gleefully unwrapping a tampon and reveling in what she and her vagina are gonna do one day. She can do things, and with her vagina, but the two just aren’t as hand in hand as boys and their pizzles. That’s right, I said it. Pizzle.
More thoughts shortly (all adjectives are also cracking me up in such close proximity to penis talk),