Masculinity, Sex, and Dicks: New Understandings of the Phallus
Call for Papers Special Issue 2022
Journal of Bodies, Sexualities, and Masculinities
Guest Editors: Dr Andrea Waling & Dr Jennifer Power
Editorial Team: Dr Jonathan A. Allan, Dr Frank G., Karioris, & Dr Chris Haywood
The symbolism, significance and meaning of the phallus/penis has varied historically, and across disciplines. In the psychoanalytic tradition, philosophers such as Lacan suggest that “(t)he subject … can only assume its identity through the adoption of a sexed identity, and the subject can only take up a sexed identity with reference to the phallus, for ‘the phallus is the privileged signifier’” (Segal 2007, 85). Lacan’s work has inspired feminist critiques of “phallocentrism” in high and popular cultural texts since the 1970s (Segal 2007). Stephens (2007) describes the ancient Greek ideal of small penises as indexing self-control and rationality, while the Romans celebrated virility and power, which they associated with a large penis. Other scholarship has explored the racialisation of penis size, such as the myth of Black men as possessing large penises, indexing hypersexuality (Lehman 2006).
A spate of scholarship in the 1990s and early 2000s examined the representation of the penis in media and popular culture, including comedy films of this decade with their representation of anxieties about “premature ejaculation”, penis size, masturbation and a variety of other painful, vulnerable or humiliating penis-centric scenarios (Glass 2001, 546). Recent research examines “the emergence of a new aesthetic discourse of the penis, which operates at the boundaries of both the “new paradigm of health” … and “‘biomedicalisation’” (Flowers et al. 2013, 122) which further complicates this narrative. For example, biomedicalisation has provided options to enhance the appearance of penises. This new “penile discourse” has developed through shifts in sexual norms and the proliferation of pornography that “focuses upon penile appearance as much as function” (Flowers et al. 2013, 121, see also Allan 2018). Biomedicine has also re-emphasised the centrality of penis function and virility, such as in the case of Viagra (Potts 2000). More recently, research has explored the advent of the ‘Dick Pic’ and its infiltration in digital and mobile technology, raising questions about sexual violence, erotic male bodies, and sexual desire (Waling & Pym 2019; Paasonen et al. 2019).
Indeed, the penis, or the phallus, has undergone much scrutiny in academic discourse. However, with new forms of medical, digital, and mechanical technology providing transformative and new ways of understanding the penis beyond the assigned male-sex body, alongside new ways of thinking about gender, sexuality, and sexual practices, there is an urgent need to increase knowledge about the meanings, uses and applications of the penis in relation to masculinity, bodies, and sexualities.
We are seeking contributions from a range of disciplines (social sciences, visual and performing arts, humanities, medical sciences, technology studies) to explore the following questions:
- How has the meaning of the phallus, such as of weakness, masculinity, sex, and power, shifted or altered across history and cultures?
- In what ways can there be a consideration of the erotic possibility, meaning or potential of the penis?
- How can we begin to think through questions of penile aesthetics, such as the foreskin, circumcision, and body modifications (i.e. piercings, tattoos, dermal implants )?
How do technologies, including digital, medical, and mechanical technologies, shift or alter meanings and uses of the penis (i.e. Dick Pics, Viagra, Strap-On Dildos etc.)?
- In what ways has the function of the penis been framed, or can be framed, in disability studies or studies of ageing bodies? What might this mean for redefining the centrality of penis function, for example, for older men, or men with physical, cognitive, or sensory disabilities?
- How might the penis be reconceptualised, queered or challenged beyond gender, sexuality, and sexual practices binaries (i.e. non-gender binary bodies, pegging practices, Kink & BDSM practices)? What is the transformative possibility of the penis?
- What relationship does the penis have to the masculine/trans masculine body and/or mental and physical health (i.e. body image anxieties, PReP, reproduction and fertility, penile reconstruction surgeries)?
Abstract proposals will be reviewed prior to invitation to submit a full manuscript for review. Abstract proposals should be 250-300 words and are due April 28th 2020.
Abstracts should be emailed to the JBSM team at JBSM@berghahnjournals.com, with Special Issue 2022 as the subject line.
Abstract proposals will be reviewed by the guest editors and JBSM editorial team, with notification by May 22nd 2020.
If invited to submit a full paper, manuscripts should be no more than 7,500 words, including notes and references.
Manuscripts will be due November 30th 2020 and will undergo double-blind review.
For more information about submission, please visit:
Questions? email Dr Andrea Waling: firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr Jennifer Power: email@example.com
- Allan, J. A. (2018). The Foreskin Aesthetic or Ugliness Reconsidered. Men and Masculinities. [online first]. https://doi.org/10.1177/1097184X17753038
- Flowers, P., Langdridge, D., Gough, B., & Holliday, R. (2013). On the Biomedicalisation of the Penis: The Commodification of Function and Aesthetics. International Journal of Men’s Health, 12(2), 121-137.
- Lehman, P. (2006). “A ‘Strange Quirk in His Lineage.’” Men & Masculinities, 9(2), 226-235.
- Paasonen, S., Light, B., & Jarrett, K. (2019). “The Dick Pic: Harassment, Curation, and Desire.” Social Media + Society. [online first]. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305119826126
- Potts, A. (2000). “‘The Essence of the Hard On’: Hegemonic Masculinity and the Cultural Construction of ‘Erectile Dysfunction.’” Men & Masculinities, 3(1), 85-103.
- Segal, L. (2007). Slow Motion: Changing Masculinities, Changing Men. London, UK: Palgrave. Stephens, E. (2007). “The Spectacularised Penis.” Men & Masculinities, 10(1), 85-98.
- Waling, A., & Pym, T. (2019). “‘C’mon, No One Wants a Dick Pic’: Exploring the Cultural Framings of the ‘Dick Pic’ in Contemporary Online Publics.” Journal of Gender Studies, 28(1): 70-85.