Vagina Envy

Sarah Ellenberger
Gender in Religion
DeVega, 9/18/09
Vagina Envy

In the brilliant words of a six year old, “Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina.” It is a simple enough concept to accept, so simple that an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie was able to grasp it. Women do not have penises and therefore envy men, however, women are not alone in their envious paths. Women have penis envy, but men have vagina envy.

Women are wrought with distress their entire lives, being forced to deal with their castration complexes. Women may accept that a lack of penis and internalize their need for a penis and in doing so become a subservient being. Freud has some ideas on penis envy and the effects of the envy on women. Women grow up with the knowledge of the absence of a penis and are immediately forced to cope with their loss and their anger towards their mothers for not bestowing them with the amazing gift that is a penis. With this goes the idea that women connect their weakness and inferiority purely to their sex; a penis is all one needs to be successful (Torok, 6).

Women have penis envy. Now if that is to be accepted as fact and men not considered in this then women truly are others. Men and women are the same, according to Daly gender does not even exist except as a culturally accepted phenomenon. Men have vagina envy, that is, men want to be women.

God is shown as a male in images and linguistically in the bible and other texts. He is the perfect male. He shown as an all-powerful being and is considered beautiful while being depicted as both in various arts. God is for men what Victoria’s Secret models are for women. God is this “image of male perfection against which men measure themselves and in terms of which they fall short” (Eilberg-Schwartz, 17). God is no longer just a being of worship, he is a being to emulate. Men cannot ever be like God and are therefore always in a constant struggle with themselves to become more masculine.

God is the captain of the football team. Every man wants to be him, however, every man also wants to be with him. That metaphor breaks the stereotypes of that cliché, but it works. Freud’s Oedipus complex stated that boys wanted to be with their mothers and therefore hated their fathers. However, Freud suggests that there is such a thing as a negative Oedipus, which is exactly as its name suggests. It is the opposite of the Oedipus complex, where men secretly on an unconscious level, have homosexual feelings for other men (Ruitenbeck). When a man’s best friend gets married, he feels jealousy for the woman who is stealing the other man away from him. The man is jealous of her vagina, of the fact that she is a woman and can be with the man.
In a society where heterosexuality is the accepted norm, these feelings of jealousy and homosexuality are often hidden and ignored. Straight men are the dominant and the goal. The negative Oedipus complex states men’s unconscious desire to be castrated in order for their homoerotic feelings to be accepted. God is seen as male, and man’s desire to be with God sexually is often difficult for men. Men want to have vaginas, for if they had vaginas then their desires would no longer be a social taboo.

Men would rather wish to be women than acknowledge the idea of a female God. It would be more acceptable to have feelings towards a female God, and it is in this way that men are no longer the dominant in a sexist religion. If God was accepted to be a female, and depicted in texts and the arts as a female, then men would no longer have these Oedipal desires.

Consider further an idea of becoming a matriarchal society, where a female God is the norm. Now females would be the ones compared to this divine being. This female God is still the top of the hierarchal table, just as the male God is depicted. Women have the same jealousy and love for this female God as men did for the male God. It would all be reversed; gender roles, status, and dominance. Rather than penis envy, Freud’s wife would have concluded that men have vagina envy and others would state that it is because God is a female and men lack an absence of biology.

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