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The Invisible Penis - Tobsha Learner

Updated: Nov 28, 2019

The Lovely Hermaphrodite, Rosslynd Piggott

I have this idea that every woman carries around within her a visual idea of what kind of penis she’d have if she were a man. Call me crazy, or maybe it’s the result of having a brother who’s just a little younger in age, so I was always in competition with him, but this idea really crystallised when in my youth I modelled for a close female friend of mine, Australian painter Rosslynd Piggott, for a painting entitled 'The Lovely Hermaphrodite’ (recently part of her retrospective at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne).

After the painting was finished and I finally stood before it with my rather blunt and critical eye (I was somewhat undiplomatic back then – not much has changed) I ended up having an argument which started when I pointed out that the rather small flaccid delicate organ she’d painted on the otherwise womanly figure would have never been the penis I would have had if I were a man.

Now this was based on little else than an instinctive conviction, but it was a strong one and a little to my own surprise and certainly to poor Rosslynd’s dismay, one I felt worth defending. I’d assumed the artist had unconsciously painted a penis that might have been a projection of her own unconscious idea of one – in other words a flower-like sensitive depiction of the male penis – she was and still is a rather more sensitive soul than myself. But after bringing the subject up for this column she pointed out that she’d never carried an image or even contemplated what kind of penis she might have, she was, simply, grateful she didn’t have one!

Bang goes my theory… Nevertheless I still hold that there is probably a Freudian theory behind the notion that every woman (heterosexual and otherwise) has a kind of shadow penis buried in her psyche. A kind of visual image of the animus as Jung might put it. After all doesn't every foetus start female then turn male? Perhaps it’s just a premonition or might have been…

Tobsha Learner's latest novel is The Magick of Master Lilly (Sphere, LB UK). More info:

Tobsha Learner's short story 'Homage: an anecdote and true story' will be published in our Stories About Penises anthology. Release date 28 November 2019. Orders are now available. For updates, sign up for our newsletter.

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