Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Penis Envy Redux

                                                                      photo of Anna Magnani by Yousuf Karsh

Courbet would have a heart attack if he saw what passes for the female genitalia today. Remember his famous painting “The Origin of the World” with its sensuous portrait of the lower half of a mysterious female’s torso (recently identified as Whistler's model Joanna Hiffernan). And what about Anna Magnani, famous for both her acting skills and the hair in her armpits? Not that every woman has to be the female equivalent of John Holmes. But what is this Brazilian waxing craze, this shaving into oblivion, this pedophilia that passes for fashion? Surely no bodily part has ever been under such concerted attack as the female genitalia. What if the Brazilians decided that the head was too obtrusive? Shaving used to be met with some degree of resistance by pregnant women who experienced castration anxiety when their obstetricians prescribed it before childbirth. As Marcel Ophuls’ The Sorrow and the Pity documented, the heads of female collaborators were shaved after the war and who knows what else was shaved? If advances in epigenetics prove that some forms of acquired characteristics are inherited, the offspring of shaved women may well suffer from the sins of their parents, looking down between their legs to find that they really have something to be envious about. With Viagra and penile enhancement, men’s genitalia are getting progressively larger while women are under continual pressure to make their genitalia smaller (through waxing and vaginoplasty). What does this say about the equality of the sexes? What about the well-hung woman?

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