Thinking With Our Dicks

After the tropes of men allegedly consumed with fear of losing their penises and envying larger ones comes the trope of men “thinking with their penises”. In addition to all the jokes, this is meant quite seriously as an analysis of male behaviour, even as an overarching social, economic and political Theory of Everything.

The “thinking with their dicks” trope suggests that when men are horny, they get tunnel vision and become blind to consequences. That is most certainly true, but it is hardly less true for women. Do not women also make extremely poor decisions when their bodies are asking for sex? Of course they do. The difference, however, is that when they wake up the next day and look in horror at what they brought home from the disco, they are not obliged to blame themselves. They have at their disposal, if they care to use it, a conceptual framework that informs them that they were the helpless victims of male predation. This framework may even define rape in terms of any sexual encounter that is subsequently regretted, which covers the situation nicely. Men are less ideological, they just blame the beer goggles.

Whereas men are not only accustomed to being told that they are thinking with their dicks, but even accuse one another of this behaviour, women are protected by the social rules we call “respect for women” from similar insight. For centuries women have been refining the techniques of responding with moral outrage to anything they do not wish to hear, and have defined linguistic decency largely in terms of taboos on the mention of their biological functions and the analysis of their sexual strategies. Nowadays, however, one half of the laws of courtesy have been abolished, allowing women to say whatever they like to men, but not contrariwise. Moreover, whenever a woman feels sexual desire, it can always be sacralised under the rubric of “love”, which is immune to reproach. For these two reasons it is not socially possible to tell a woman that “she is thinking with her cunt”.

We also meet the trope outside the sexual arena, for example in all disagreement over political or economic issues, and by no means limited to war-mongering. One Norwegian party leader tended to invalidate male argument by claiming detection of the smell of testosterone, which is of course a bio-essentialist variant on “thinking with their dicks”. The real meaning of this trope is as follows: when a woman starts talking about how a man is thinking with his dick, or is suffering from testosterone poisoning, it means that she wants something from him – for instance victory in television debate or domestic argument – and that she’ll stop as soon as he hands it to her.

It is, however, possible to overplay this hand. If “thinking with his dick” is held to be an existentially necessary state from which a man cannot escape – if there is nothing he can do to avert this primal guilt – then the accusation loses all meaning. It then becomes irrelevant to his actual behaviour, a mere synonym of “male” and therefore “wrong”. When men finally realise that there is simply no point trying to behave virtuously enough to be awarded the accolade of not thinking with their dicks, because they never will be, then the manipulation may lose all its power. If and when men who have hitherto striven to be civilised flip over and really do start thinking with their dicks, it may well be that women will notice the difference and fail to like it.

4 Responses

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  1. Written by urban
    on September 4, 2011 at 08:32

    “Do not women also make extremely poor decisions when their bodies are asking for sex?”

    Asking for sex? What about the time bomb? What about when they want a baby? The brain goes completely out of the window.

    I have known extremely intelligent, very well educated women who got knocked up–to cite but one example–by a blues musicians with ten children by seven different women and actually believed that he was going to live with her to raise the child. How stupid can you get, girl? My cock couldn’t possibly be that dense. Compared to that level of brain-death my cock deserves a Nobel Physics Prize.

  2. Written by Mick Whitehead
    on September 4, 2011 at 10:30


    Excellent point. In agriculture the term ‘bolting’ is used to describe a plant that suddenly, sensing an imminent threat to its existence, stops leaf production and starts flowering. A particular example is spinach. Spinach likes cool weather. A sudden heatwave will trigger ‘bolting.’ The plant ‘senses’ the approach of death and throws everything it has into flowers. The reason is the flowers contain the DNA and the ability to spread it.

    Remember that plants can’t go off to nightclubs, so they flower and rely on wind or other organisms to move their DNA. It’s like abandoning ship.

    Now I hold the same is true of the female ‘time bomb.’ Women ‘bolt’ too. This usually occurs in the thirties. Again, the DNA picks up a hint of death. A body is just a tomb for the DNA. It must move into a new storage unit at all costs.

    I too have observed the nutty behaviour, the panic once ‘bolting’ occurs. The threat to the DNA triggers a massive hormone dump in the female. This results in powerful ‘feelings’ which become thoughts and then convictions. In short, a mental mess.

    It’s at this stage we will see that, ‘almost anyone will do.’ Women who are ‘bolting’ are sure to ask you in the first ten minutes of conversation if you want kids (new storage units but of course they won’t say that). If not, you’re out. No time to waste.

    I should also say that once spinach ‘bolts’ it becomes bitter, and in a theory that may verge on the prophetic, I suggest this accounts for the bitterness we see in older females who have not replicated their genetic material.

  3. Written by urban
    on September 4, 2011 at 16:07

    As a long time gardener I’m familiar with bolting, but thank you Mick for pointing out the isomorphism. Never occurred to me. It’s a much better analogy than the more conventional ‘time bomb’.

    As much as I like your extending the analogy to bitterness, (bitterfitter, anyone?), and have known many examples to support your point, I have known counter examples as well. Delightful older women who did fascinating things with their lives precisely because they didn’t replicate. But they just might be exceptions that validate the general rule by dint of scant numbers. I can only think of a few.

    As long as we’re going wild kingdom here, I know this sounds like a locker-room joke, but there are animals that have two brains, one for reproduction and the other for everything else. The mantis comes to mind. Even after his head has been eaten by his beloved the male mantis’ other brain keeps the nads pumping out sperm.

  4. Written by urban
    on September 4, 2011 at 16:23

    If I may dilate a bit on bolting….

    The causes of human bitterness are many and complex. There are plenty of older women who are bitter towards their children for failing as parental-status-technology units. The woods are thick with ’em. And there sure are a lot of bitter old men. I hope not; I aim higher, but I can see myself becoming one of them.

    All that said and all that true, I still want to save Mick’s point. It requires nuance, but then, most deep insights do. I’m curious about the soi-disant ‘bitterfitter’. Is a woman who self-describes as a ‘bitter cunt’ typically childless? Hmmmm….

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