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The term 'phallocentrism' refers to the tendency to focus all discussion of sexual difference on the primacy of the phallus. The adjective 'phallo-centric' was coined by the British psychoanalyst Ernest Jones in a discussion of the early development of female sexuality that brought him into conflict with Freud over the question of the phallic phase, in which children believe that the penis is the sole sexual organ and that femininity is the result of castration.[1] Jones argues that the girl does have an awareness of her own sexual organs, but alos that masculinity and femininity are innate and absolute polarities. He contends that discussions of the development of sexuality have been dominated by the 'unduly phallo-centric views' of male analysts and that the importance of the female organs has been 'correspondingly underestimated.' The possible protofeminist implications of his claims are immediately undermined when Jones goes on to add that women have compounded the problem by adopting what he calls 'a secretive attitude towards their own genitals' and by showing 'a hardly disguised preference for interest in the male organ.'

In contemporary usage, 'phallocentrism' tends to refer to the Lacanian theory of the phallus. The accussation of phallocentrism is crucial to Irigaray's critique of psychoanalysis.

See Also


  1. 1927

PAGES 98, 105, 116-118, 120 HOMER PHALLOCENTIRISM (295-6) CD