Please disable your Ad Blocker to better interact with this website.

Barb Wire

A Lesbian Theory of the Penis


“Far from being ‘natural,’ phallic sexuality is a moral and political activity. . . . Men’s sexual behaviour is not caused by hormonal dictates. It is because the penis serves the ideological function of symbolizing ‘human’ status that it is so heavily charged with erotic energy, and not because it is driven by testosterone. Men must keep using it because they need to keep proving that they exist, that their ‘humanity’ is inextricably entwined with penis-possession; women must be constantly used by it to prove that men exist, that the sum total of a man is his penis. . . . Anything and everything must be subordinated to penile activity if men are to be what phallic ideology requires them to be.”
Denise Thompson, Radical Feminism Today (2001)

“That some men rape provides a sufficient threat to keep all women in a constant state of intimidation, forever conscious of the knowledge that the biological tool must be held in awe, for it may turn to weapon with sudden swiftness born of harmful intent. . . . Rather than society’s aberrants or ‘spoilers of purity,’ men who commit rape have served in effect as front-line masculine shock troops, terrorist guerrillas in the longest sustained battle the world has ever known.”
Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape (1975)

When did I first encounter the feminist claim that rape is not about sex? It was during the 1980s, I’m pretty sure, and I recall being both startled and amused by this well-known element of feminist theory. Startled, I say, because rape so obviously is about sex, and amused at the naivete of anyone who could believe otherwise.

In the nearly four decades since Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will elaborated the rape-as-violence motif, it has become increasingly difficult to criticize that ideological claim without being accused of being “pro-rape.” Men who love women — not “love” as a matter of sentimental expression, but “love” as a consistent behavior of care and support — are required to be silent in reaction to the dishonest and deliberate insult that Brownmiller and other radical cadre have promoted as feminism’s truth. As males, we are not allowed to dispute feminism’s authority to speak on behalf of our wives and mothers, sisters and daughters.

As males, we are members of a demonized group of enemies, and everything we might say in our own defense is illegitimate. So when Brownmiller speaks scornfully of “the biological tool” — i.e., the penis — as also a “weapon,” when she implies that we as males derive a benefit from rapists who serve as “front-line masculine shock troops, terrorist guerrillas” in a war of all men against all women, we cannot dispute this hatefully insulting anti-male doctrine without being Kafka trapped, where our claim of innocence becomes proof of our guilt.

Honest, decent and intelligent people rightly perceive feminism as a limitless doctrine of fanatical hatred. There can be no compromise with this totalitarian belief, nor can there be any “moderate” feminism. The problem, in the 21st century, is that the majority of Americans are neither honest nor decent nor intelligent. Barack Obama never could have been elected president twice in a nation of honest, decent, intelligent citizens. Clearly, our government now operates on behalf of the dishonest, indecent and stupid majority, and the consequences of this political reality should frighten us.

Feminism’s success in gaining hegemonic authority within academia — which the fate of Larry Summers at Harvard conclusively proved — has made it impossible to challenge the truth-making authority of these anti-male/anti-heterosexual ideologues. Every “educated” person under 40 has lived his or her entire life in a world where feminism controls our nation’s intellectual discourse about sex, so that to oppose feminism is to be “anti-intellectual,” no matter how fluent your argument or how prestigious your credentials. Deprived of intellectual prestige and institutional influence, direct opposition to feminism becomes first unfashionable and then nearly impossible.

You could probably count on one hand the number of university professors in America who have uttered a peep of criticism against feminism during the past decade, and the small number of anti-feminist books is buried amid the avalanche of feminist titles that spew forth from academic presses as commodities for taxpayer-subsidized consumption astextbooks in Women’s Studies courses.

So here we have Denise Thompson, author of the 2001 book Radical Feminism Today, a self-described “independent scholar” (meaning she never got a permanent professorship) in Australia, who worked for several years at the New South Wales Social Policy Research Centre. Now 74, Thompson could more logically be viewed as representing radical feminism yesterday, except for the fact that radical feminism is now what it has always been and must always be. While studying dozens of works of feminist theory, I have observed how the tone and terminology shift slowly over the decades. What was first termed “male chauvism” became “sexism” and more recently “misogyny.” What Adrienne Rich called “compulsory heterosexuality” in 1980 is now more commonly called “heteronormativity.” Criticism of “sex roles” or the “sex-caste system” has been superceded by talk of “gender,” and there are always little-noticed skirmishes around the periphery of feminism. What we might call “old-fashioned” radical lesbianism (e.g., Mary Daly, Julia Penelope, Marilyn Frye, Janice Raymond, Sheila Jeffreys, et al.) has for more than two decades been waging a counterattack against the insurgency of “French feminism” and poststructualism as represented by proponents of “Queer Theory” like Judith Butler (Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, 1990).

Nevertheless, feminism remains what it has always been, and Denise Thompson’s Radical Feminism Today is a clear and thorough survey of this ideology. I ordered Radical Feminism Today from Amazon after seeing her books articles repeatedly cited in the notes and bibliographies of other books, including Radically Speaking: Feminism Reclaimed, edited by Diane Bell and Renate Klein (1996) and Rethinking Sexuality by Diane Richardson (2000). I was particularly intrigued by an excerpt, in the latter title, of a 1991 book by Thompson, Reading Between the Lines: A Lesbian Feminist Critique of Feminist Accounts of Sexuality. Richardson cited Thompson while endeavoring to refute the longstanding criticism of “radical feminist analyses as biologically determinist/essentialist.”

Do I really need to wade into the eternal feminist disputes over “essentialism” here? No, it is not necessary to subject the reader to such internecine quibbling over theoretical details, except to say that in these fights among feminists, it is the radical lesbians who stand firm in defense of the idea that “female” is a matter of biology — a scientific fact involving anatomy and chromosomes — and in this particular matter, I find myself nodding in agreement.

Here I must remind readers of McCain’s Law of Feminism:

There are three kinds of feminism:

1. Feminism that is wrong;
2. Feminism that is crazy;
3. Feminism that is both wrong and crazy.

When in doubt, it’s usually Number Three.

Radical feminists are all crazy, but they are not always wrong.  The radical arguments of crazy lesbians expose the intellectual bankruptcy of so-called “pro-sex” (i.e., liberal heterosexual)  feminists.

If biological differences are irrelevant, after all, then there can be no basis for hating men and no way to identify “women” as an actual group suffering from oppression under male supremacy. Yet in order to avoid giving away the ballgame (because admitting that there are real differences between men and women undermines the androgynous egalitarian premise of feminism), radical feminists are required to tread a very narrow theoretical tightrope. With that in mind, here (from page 54 of Richardson’s Rethinking Sexuality) is the quoted excerpt of Thompson’s Reading Between the Lines:

To insist, as radical feminists do, that there are differences between the sexes, and that those ‘differences’ are the stuff of male domination, is not to appeal to ‘biology,’ nor to be pessimistic about the possibility of revolutionary change. In fact, it is to insist on that very possibility, else why would we bother? . . . Why is it not possible to argue both that female and male sexualities are different, or rather (to put it less essentialistically) that women and men have different interests, purposes, desires and needs in relation to sexuality, and that those differences are engendered by specific historical conditions, without positing any essential genesis or causality at all?

Thompson is splitting a fine red hair there, so to speak.

One gets the feeling that what Thompson wants to say is what all feminists really believe but cleverly refuse to say in so many words: Men and women are different — because men are inferior to women.

Anyone who believes feminism is about “equality” is so hopelessly stupid that I doubt they could read or comprehend this sentence.

Feminism isn’t about equality. Feminism is about hate.

As Jim Goad says, every word of feminist rhetoric is intended to “degrade, humiliate, and demoralize men,” and this is especially true as regards feminism’s deliberate demonization of male sexuality.

Thus do we return to Denise Thompson’s rant about “phallic sexuality” being “a moral and political activity.” It is certainly shocking to see a feminist speak of sexual morality, but in what sense do she mean that sexuality is political? Never mind how she might answer that question, however. Here she makes a categorical claim:

“Men’s sexual behaviour is not caused by hormonal dictates.”

The hell you say! Any teenage boy — or any man who remembers what it was like to be a teenage boy — can refute that BS. While it is certainly true that human beings are capable of rational action, and are not helpless slaves of biological urges, the hormonal influence on male sex drive is a scientific fact of biology beyond dispute.

Yet a fool believes what a fool believes, and there is no fool quite so foolish as a fanatical feminist fool. A man’s throbbing erection, according to Denise Thompson’s theory, has nothing to do with “hormonal dictates.” The boner is socially constructed, you see, and as Dr. Thompson insists “phallic sexuality” is not natural, there is neither a hormonal etiology nor a behavioral teleology to male sexuality.

C’mon, what’s the only reason any teenage boy ever learned to play guitar? Can I get a show of hands, guitar players? Rock-and-roll exists because of “phallic sexuality.” Wise parents understand this: Your daughter is never safe around a boy who plays guitar.

It’s not just guitars, either. Almost anything teenage boys do, they do as a result of “phallic sexuality.” They play football or they drive fast cars or they wear Abercrombie & Fitch — one way or another, it’s “phallic sexuality” that motivates their behavior. Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge this truth is living in an alternate universe. They certainly have never been a teenage boy or been the parent of one.

“Phallic sexuality” can be restrained and channeled toward constructive purposes, but it cannot be wished away by theoretical abstractions. Did I ever believe — has anyone with a penis ever believed — that his erection derived its “erotic energy” because it “serves the ideological function of symbolizing ‘human’ status”? Does my wife believe this? I’m afraid to ask. Her laughter would be embarrassing.

On the other hand, I must confess to being profoundly intrigued by Dr. Thompson’s Existential Theory of the Boner, whereby my humanity “‘is inextricably entwined with penis-possession,” so that I must keep using it to prove I exist: “I f**k, therefore I am.”

“Anything and everything must be subordinated to penile activity,” according to this feminist interpretation of “phallic ideology.”

Damn. If only some feminist had told me this when I was 14, it would have spared me all that time I spent learning to play guitar.

Brutal sarcasm aside, you see what results of feminism’s insistence that only feminist interpretations of sexuality are valid. Anything a man may claim to know about this own anatomy, his own beliefs and behavior, is unacceptable if it contradicts feminist theory.

Readers will excuse me if I end this article without offering any profoundly insightful conclusion. My 13-year-old son borrowed my old guitar — I have no idea why he wants to learn to play — but I think I might need to borrow it back, to serenade my wife. Maybe I’ll get lucky and my wife will let me prove my existence, IYKWIMAITYD.

This is the latest in the “Sex Trouble” series of articles about radical feminism’s war on human nature. Readers have urged me to produce a book on this topic; since July I have been publishing articles, based on my research and recent news events, as “draft chapters” of this book that I hope to finish compiling next month. Readers have generously supported this project with PayPal contributions, and it is with profound gratitude for this support that I once again remind you of the Five Most Important Words in the English Language:


First published at


Posting Policy

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.

Trending Now on

Our Privacy Policy has been updated to support the latest regulations.Click to learn more.×

Send this to a friend