What makes the textual image of a woman with a penis so compelling, malleable, and persistent? Although the figure of the phallic woman is in no sense unique to our age, Every Inch a Woman takes note of a proliferation of phallic feminine figures in disparate North American and European texts from the end of the nineteenth century onward. This multiplication, which continues today, admits of a corresponding multiplicity of motives. The phallic woman can be a ribald joke, a fantastical impossibility, a masculine usurper, an ultimately unthreatening sexual style, an interrogation into the I of the author, or an examination of female culpability.
Carellin Brooks takes up the textual figure of the phallic woman where Freud locates it, in the imagined mother that the little boy, in fantasy, credits with a penis of her own. It traces this phallic-woman motif backward to the sexological case study, and forward to newspaper accounts of testosterone-taking third-sexers. Brooks examines both high and low literature, pornography, postmodern theory, and writing that would seem to answer Lacan’s injunction to move "beyond the phallus." Witty and engaging, Every Inch a Woman makes an innovative contribution to sexuality, gender, and women's studies, as well as psychoanalytic theory and criticism.
And you thought all academic books were dull? ... [a] penetrating study of gender-bending penetration.
Brooks could have easily called this project ‘every inch a winner’! This is a smart, and sexy investigation of the compelling and very queer figure of ‘phallic femininity,’ and unrelentingly seductive and contradictory twentieth-century trope. A must read for anyone working in gender studies, queer theory, feminist theory and studies in the social construction of the body.
1 In Freud’s Case: Mothering the Phallus
2 Literally Male: The Case Study
3 The Body in the Text: All-seeing 'I's
4 Mysterious, Solitary Women: The Butch Cipher
5 Girl Cock: The Literalized Phallus
6 Avalanche of Dildos: The Transferable Phallus
7 The Power of the (W)hole
Receive the latest UBC Press news, including events, catalogues, and announcements.Subscribe to our newsletter now
Read past newsletters