The Fucking Phallus

When I fucked chicks as a dyke, I wasn’t into foreign phallic objects. But when I started stuffing one in my pants and feeling not disconnected from it, I started wanting to fuck in different ways. The chronology here is dubious. Which came first I can’t tell you. But things change. And it’s not often easy (or possibly helpful) to know why. But things change fast. 

The fact is, the ftm surgeries currently available aren’t that great. Top surgery invariably leaves visible scars and the craftsmanship involved in phalloplasty – construction of a penis – is desperately inadequate. (And biological reasoning just doesn’t cut it. Hearts and hands are transplanted: the penis is not such a complex organ.) These are hard (and expensive) body modifications. And the results don’t pass. Whether or not this is a desirable outcome is up to each guy, but the fact is, we don’t have the choice: there isn’t the opportunity for transmen to pass in all the ways it is for transwomen. This is only the beginning. All too often ftm and mtf experiences are conflated as ‘transsexuality’. There is a gender difference here (which crosses over as we do).

My (lesbian) feminist upbringing taught me to loathe the penis and its bearers. And I did. It also taught me to love the body I have. Which I also did. But is wanting to change that body in some way anti-feminist? 

The impossibility of female phallic power has been challenged explicitly by photographer Catherine Opie in her series Being and Having: a collection of brightly coloured portraits of female-bodied masculine folk who gaze (back) at the viewer with an intensity of strength and integrity that refuses to be objectified. The subversive potential of such a work and its implications is explicated by Judith Butler in Bodies That Matter: “the simultaneous acts of deprivileging the phallus and removing it from the normative heterosexual form of exchange, and recirculating and reprivileging it between women [sic – female bodies] deploys the phallus to break the signifying chain in which it conventionally operates”. That is, the enactment of the female phallus rips down the structure it is supposed to represent (patriarchy and male power). 

There is a long history of hostility and animosity between those who change their bodies and those who think such action reinforces (sexist) notions of gender conformity. Woman-identified and transboi feminists are too often quick to defend their respective positions without considering the broader political ramifications. This makes sense: our bodies are on the line and the personal is (still) political. But we can (and need to) coalesce in finding the subversive potential of transformation. We desperately need Transboi feminist ontologies and politics of the body to be theorised. 

Butler continues: “Consider that “having” the phallus can be symbolized by an arm, a tongue, a hand (or two), a knee, a thigh, a pelvic bone, an array of purposefully instrumentalized body-like things.” I think many other tranny bois and transmen do. We don’t have much of a choice but to re-contextualise and re-configure what we have into what we want it to be/mean.

Keep dreaming, 

Max xx

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under What's Queer Here?

One response to “The Fucking Phallus

  1. phalloplasties can create passable penises that can become erect and have some sensation. it’s a myth that Ftms don’t have bottom surgery options.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s