Terry Goldie responds to Beth Spencer

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A few random thoughts on Beth Spencer’s review, from a gay Canadian:

Whereas the logical comparison across gender should be penis=vagina or penis=clitoris but Spencer’s implication is right that the comparison in Western culture is penis=breasts.

But given this, the phallic male is not a simple position of power. In Lacanian psychology, the male’s possession of the penis is actually troubling because he can think he has a phallus, whereas he has only a penis. The woman recognizes the lack and therefore is more able productively to recognize what the phallus might be, a transcendental figure of power.

(Old joke:
Freud: Anna, although I am your father, as part of your education I must show you my penis so you understand certain fundamental concepts. Now, do you see the difference between the penis and the phallus?
Anna: Yes, father. The penis is like the phallus only much smaller.)

So to continue the analogy, does the woman having breasts improve her understanding or harm it? Secondly, the young boy has a penis but the young girl doesn’t have breasts. What does this mean? It would be interesting to pursue the issue of breast development in the fascination currently demonstrated by 6 year old girls for the Spice Girls, especially given the mammary presentations of the late lamented Ginger Spice. Girl Power indeed.

I have a number of friends who are at particular positions in the sex-gender debate. Breast development is very important to two transgendered friends, neither of whom has decided to opt for “the operation” yet. One says the “vagina-move”, if she makes it, will be to satisfy her inner being but the breasts are essential for her sense of presentation as a woman.

Another friend, a “real girl” as they say, has very large breasts and hips, although a very slim waist. She now has a straight job but used to work in a massage parlour. She says it was the only time she has felt affirmed in her body because rather than worrying about her hips she was able to enjoy men’s fascination with her breasts.

Another real girl who has very small breasts just did a short movie in which she performed with a dildo: she said she enjoyed being publicly sexual in a way which offered no focus on her chest. And by the way, Spencer’s “lifting and separating” line is brilliant.

Terry Goldie
English Department
York University
North York, Ontario
M3J 1P3

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