Tuesday, September 06, 2005

My Horn doesn't stink, does yours? (Alternative title: Figs versus Fungi)

It's all well and good getting tied up with the historical, literary and taste associations of figs but you have to wonder why a gay man would get too hung up on the female sensuousness of anything, let alone a fig. We can convince ourselves about our appreciation of the aesthetic quality of anything, including the female form and anything that approximates it or parts of it, but when you get down to brass tacks, we are driven by much baser instincts, instincts that are largely phallocentric. Ok, enough with the clever words - gay men like cock!

Over the past 50 years, the role of women in society, particularly Western society, has changed beyond the wildest dreams of the likes of Emily Pankhurst. Women are thrusting forth in all spheres of life and, in most (all?) respects, society has improved as a result. But, there is one area in which things will never change, the dominance of the visual representation of the male genitalia. Something that enlarges and erects itself, forcing its presence to be acknowledged, has to be more visually dominant than something that is largely hidden from view, whether aroused or not. This is not to say that one is better than the other (but you know what gay men think about that!) but, visually, one is 'out there', the other, 'in there'.

So, whether you agree or not that society is male-dominated, phallic symbols dominate our environment, symbols of female genitalia being much less obvious.

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, we see cocks in carrots, bananas, courgettes, cucumbers, parsnips, etc. Besides the fig, can you think of any other fruit that looks like a fanny? But, having listed how many things look like a cock, simply because they are long and hard, I can't think of anything more phallic-like in nature than a type of mushroom commonly known as the stinkhorn. The fact that the botanical family for these mushrooms is called Phallaceae says it all.

phallus impudicus I had never heard of these mushrooms before I saw them for the first time in some woods on the Surrey downs about 15 years ago. It was autumn, the best time of the year for seeing mushrooms, and many of the trees had lost their leaves. Different types of mushrooms could be seen everywhere and, as I walked along, I started to train my eyes on the ground to see how many different types I could find.

On one side of the path, the trees suddenly changed - the indigenous trees were replaced by the darkness of planted, densely evergreen pine trees. phallus in forestThe dense layer of pine needles covering the ground beneath them ensured that hardly anything grew there. But, here and there, a few mushrooms could be seen dotting the ground. Because nothing else grew there, the mushrooms were easier to spot than in other parts of the woods - they stood out like sore, um, thumbs, so to speak. So, when I stumbled on my first stinkhorns, they were easy to spot and no stretch of the imagination was necessary to know what they resembled.

But, if those weren't suggestive enough, this one drives the point home with absolutely no room for doubt about what it looks like.

phallus hadriani

Ok, I know that this one seems to have been photographed in a laboratory or studio rather than outdoors, but you'll have to agree that you've seen something like that attached to a man before.

another phallus

There is, however, one downside to this perfect, natural symbol of the phallus especially when contrasted with the fig-fanny. You haven't wondered why it's called a stinkhorn? It stinks, that's why! The stinkhorn releases a really foul smell that attracts flies to land on its slimy (!) surface so that they can pick up its spores and carry them off elsewhere to reproduce. The smell is much like that of putrefying flesh. So, there's nothing deliciously edible about this member of the plant kingdom.

Perhaps, after all, women got the better deal when Nature went about creating 'genital symbols'!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And now I'm feeling horny...or hungry?!?!?

3:52 pm  
Blogger Miss Mish said...

There's a rude comment in here about wanting to get my mouth around that but I feel your current readership will find that offensive......

BTW Look out for parcel tomorrow.

3:31 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

My current readership needs to be expanded by more people like you who feel that their mouths need to be got around something!

Will keep my eyes firmly on the frontdoor tomorrow morning! Thanks xx

3:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have to go into the woods to see these mushrooms 'cause I have my own pecker patch growin' in my front yard!

9:13 pm  
Anonymous Melissa H. (New Jersey) said...

I moved into my new home last fall and was shocked at my first view of one of these mushrooms! I took some interesting photos myself, and loved to see people's reactions when I showed them the pics. Is it just me, or does the smell remind anyone of a day-old condom in the trash bin?

6:18 am  

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