Phallic symbol

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Freud holding phallic symbol cigar

A phallic symbol (also known as a "lingam") is any cylindrical object that, by any stretch of the imagination, may be construed as representing a penis, whether flaccid or erect. One of the most famous of such symbols was the cigar that Sigmund Freud, psychoanalyst and populurizer of the "phallic stage" of male adolescent development, during which boys discover that they are different than girls and envy the opposite sex's sleek, "unobtrusive" look, kept always at hand or mouth. Freud was seldom seen without his cigar, which he said, with a wink, was "just a cigar".

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The word "phallus" is derived from the Indo-European root bhel ("swell") which indicates the esteem in which these much-maligned objects were once held, centuries ago. Naked phalli have since become vulgar except among certain relatively small groups of the population who inexplicably still have cinnamon enemas in 'em.

A phallic symbol disguised as a banana

Disguises[edit | edit source]

Because the exhibition of a phallus is considered gauche, even in a scientific or an artistic context, it is often disguised, as it were. Typical disguises in which the offensive and offending phallus has appeared include:

  • Banana
  • Cigar (see above)
  • Gun (usually a pistol, but sometimes a bazooka, depending on the size of the artist's ego)
  • Maypole
  • Monument
  • Obelisk
  • Tower (now you know the true significance of J. R. R. Tolkien's book, The Two Towers, part of his Lord of the Rings trilogy!

Famous examples[edit | edit source]

The Washington Monument, the Eiffel Tower, and church steeples everywhere are examples of architectural phallic symbols.

The phallic symbol as a religious artifact

Significance[edit | edit source]

Some historians and critics of culture contend that the phallus may have had religious significance as a fertility symbol. For example, a swami declares: "When you look at the Linga, your mind is at once elevated and you begin to think of the Lord."

Likewise, a phallic cross of two phalli and four testicles in a chewy golden center was worn as a necklace by men of high station who had no taste, possibly as a Christian fertility symbol.

However, most scholars believe that it appeared in ancient art mostly because most of the artists of antiquity were males, and men just like to show off their penises. The fondness of these exhibitionistic artists also explains why, when represented as an "art object", the phallus was often depicted as being of huge proportions.

Fun times[edit | edit source]

When ancient Greek men, most of whom were homosexual misogynists, discovered that women actually enjoyed penises they fashioned phalli (complete with testicles) out of leather, jade, ivory, and semi-precious stones (hence the expression "family jewels") and called them dildos. They hoped, in this manner, to pacify the women without actually having to have sex with them. Dildos are also popular with such men as Eldridge Cleaver, Michael Jackson, and some New Guinea tribesmen who wear them as party hats.

A phallic symbol disguised as a work of art

Art object[edit | edit source]

The phallus has also inspired artists to create sculptures and paintings of it.

Other uses[edit | edit source]

Phalli equipped with testicles can stand alone and, for this reason, are sometimes used as bowling pins.

Some phallic symbols are shaped like women’s lipstick containers.

Sometimes, a phallus is included as part of a snowman, to differentiate it from the snow eunuch.

Sherlock and Dr. Watson with phallic symbols[edit | edit source]


See also[edit | edit source]