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The Correlation of the one-Sex Model and Penis Envy

Essay by   •  December 11, 2012  •  Essay  •  1,419 Words (6 Pages)  •  926 Views

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Throughout the years there has been one legitimate way to decide whether a person is a man or a woman, by inspecting their genitalia. If the child has a penis he is male; if the child has a vagina she is female. Everyone has been taught that there are differences between a penis and a vagina. However, prior to the eighteenth century there was a model that many believe to be true, and that some believe to be true today. This model is the One-Sex Model. In 1987 Thomas W. Laqueur and Catherine Gallagher published a book entitled The Making of the Modern Body: Sexuality and Society in the Nineteenth Century. In this book they discuss the One-Sex model and how many other philosophers believed in its existence, and whose ideas correlated with the ideas of the model. The One-Sex model presents the idea that men have a penis, and that women also have a penis, however, the women's is inverted and inside their bodies as opposed to outside. This idea proposes that the vagina is simply an internalized penis and certain parts of the male [externalized] penis act as parts of the female [internalized] penis. In the internalized penis the foreskin acts as the labia, the scrotum as the uterus, and the testicles as the ovaries. This coincided with the idea at the time that men and women were variations of the same sex, and women were the imperfect man. It was believed that if women participated in strenuous physical activity or became educated, their penis would become externalized, therefore becoming a man. Laqueur mentions in his book that many philosophers such as Galen and Aristotle believed in variations of the same idea presented by the unisex model. Galen asked the public to "think first, please, of the man's [external genitalia] turned in and extending inward between the rectum and the bladder. If this should happen, the scrotum would necessarily take the place of the uterus with the testes lying outside, next to it on either side"(Laqueur, p. 25). Galen often used the example of the eyes of the mole to describe the internalized penis, "the eyes of the mole have the same structures as the eyes of other animals except that they do not allow the mole to see. They do not open...so to do the female genitalia 'do not open' and remain an imperfect version of what they would be were they thrust out"(Laqueur, p.28). Aristotle had the idea that there are two sexes, but saw both males and females as having specific gender roles, but the roles were not necessarily tied to their bodies. He then argued "all of the male organs are similar in the female except that she has a womb, which presumably, the male does not"(Laqueur, p. 33). It was believed that men and women were variations of the same sex, and once women began trying to do the work expected from a man, and began seeking the power and dominance belonging to the role of men her penis would become externalized and she would become a man.

Sigmund Freud developed a theory that describes the development of ones personality. The theory is Psychosexual Development, in which a child goes through five different stages that impact his or her personality and growth. Not completing each stage successfully impacts the personality of the child making him or her dependent and may cause fixations. The five stages a child goes through are the oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, the latent period and the genital stage. The phallic stage ranges form three to six years old, and the erogenous zone for the child is the genitalia. In this stage the children begin to discover the differences between males and females. During the phallic stage the young boys develop an Oedipal complex and castration anxiety. The Oedipal complex they develop comes from feelings of wanting to possess their mother and their desire to replace their father. The child fears punishment form the father and develops castration anxiety when he realizes his father also has a penis and is threatened by the size. He also realizes that his mother does not have a penis and believes he can be castrated by his father, which in turn causes him to repress his desire for his mother and begins to identify himself with his father in order to vicariously possess his mother. Young girls develop similar complexes. Like the young boys develop an Oedipal complex, young girls develop an Electra complex. The Electra complex suggests the daughter develops feelings for her father and wants to possess him and replace her mother. Over time the daughter develops a fear of her mother and represses her feelings towards her father. Freud suggests that during this stage the daughter develops penis envy. The daughter realizes she has no penis and distances herself form her mother and devotes affections toward the father. She distances herself from her mother because she sees her mother as her 'creator' and blames her for the lack of the 'dominant genital.'

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