Swords and guns, skyscrapers and obelisks, cars and cigars. Poles. Freudian wisdom suggests that we are surrounded by phallic symbols—especially things that men love to buy and show off. "Silly men and their penises. Women would never be so symbolically sexual." Scoff! How many handbags do you have in your closet?? Why do you think a lot of women are into purses and men aren’t? Mm-hmm.
Purses are the opposite of a phallic symbol.
"Opposite of a phallic symbol." Already we hit the roadblock in the conversation where we don’t know what to call a lady version of a phallic symbol.
A “yonic” symbol would be the academic term, but I find it telling that this word has never entered into the vernacular, even though every teenager knows the word “phallic.” And yet vagina symbols obviously exist, and women display them as readily as men do—not only in their beloved designer handbags, but in the lip gloss they apply (widely understood to represent moist labia). Even shoes, I would argue, are yonic symbols. Sure, the heel can be phallic, but most of a shoe is a cozy enveloping hole where you insert your (kind of phallic) foot.
Why do we have a common word for phallic symbols but not for their opposite? Because phallic symbols are funny? I assure you, vaginas can be just as funny as penises. Most female comics I've seen can't go three sentences without saying ""vagina."" Perhaps it's because yonic symbols are less obvious? That makes sense. The whole point of a phallic symbol is that it’s kind of in your face. Yonic symbols, such as caves, are supposed to be more about hidden, covered things. Still, I think the same is true as with phallic symbols, Christ figures (high school English class, anyone?), and religious iconography: once you start looking for them, you find them. More likely, it’s just that darned patriarchy again. "Men are more important than women, penises are more important than vaginas, penile symbols are more deserving of attention and discussion than vaginal ones." Yep: that old misogyny thing. Nothing we haven’t seen before. Now that you know there is a word for lady symbols, and that you have a closet full of them, what are you going to do about it? Well, it’s not particularly useful information in everyday life. But maybe you could smile a bit next time you slip a purse over your shoulder, or go digging within its folds for your keys. Or maybe you could sneak it into conversation a little bit. “I was at the Grand Canyon on vacation last month. Such yonic majesty!” You know, just to see if anyone notices. Maybe someone will notice, and ask you what it means, and then start using it themselves. Who knows, it could catch on!
My favorite takeaway
Next time you are at the mall, considering buying yet another shiny new handbag, whip out your yonic wallet (yep, there’s another one) and yell, “F you, patriarchy! More vaginas!! More vaginas for EVERYONE!!!!!”
Meh, it won’t close the pay gap. It won’t elect a female president or crack the glass ceiling. But hey—I don’t know about you, but I could always use an excuse to buy a new purse!
Pippi Parnasse is a poler, #PDBloggers member and writer in the Boston area. She has over 10 years of experience both in pole and in writing professionally.