A wry look at what the astonishing world of animal penises can tell us about how we use our own.
The fallacy sold to many of us is that the penis signals dominance and power. But this wry and penetrating book reveals that in fact nature did not shape the penis – or the human attached to it – to have the upper... hand.
Phallacy looks closely at some of nature's more remarkable examples of penises and the many lessons to learn from them. In tracing how we ended up positioning our nondescript penis as a pulsing, awe-inspiring shaft of all masculinity and human dominance, Phallacy also shows what can we do to put that penis back where it belongs.
Emphasizing our human capacities for impulse control, Phallacy ultimately challenges the toxic message that the penis makes the man and the man can't control himself. With instructive illustrations of unusual genitalia and tales of animal mating rituals that will make you particularly happy you are not a bedbug, Phallacy shows where humans fit on the continuum from fun to fatal phalli and why the human penis is an implement for intimacy, not intimidation.
Emily Willingham is a journalist and science writer who earned a PhD in biology and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in urology, both after taking a bachelor's degree in English literature. She is coauthor of The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Resource for Your Child's First Four Years, and her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Aeon, Undark, San Francisco Chronicle, and many other outlets. She is a regular contributor to Scientific American.
"This is a hilarious tour through a menagerie of dicks, and a ferocious guide to not being a dick yourself [...] Emily Willingham's wonderful book is both a hilarious tour of many bizarre natural wonders and a ferocious corrective for many toxic cultural myths. I lost track of how often I laughed, and how much I learned."
– Ed Yong, New York Times bestselling author of I Contain Multitudes
"Phallacy is both smart and smart-ass, serious and startling – and it will make you reconsider your ideas about sexual balance of power in ways both satisfying and important."
– Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The New York Times, bestselling author of The Poison Squad
"Exuberantly witty and scathingly subversive, Willingham's Phallacy takes a long-overdue look at the myriad ways that putting the penis, and maleness in general, at center stage have skewed many fields of scientific inquiry, from the study of evolution to Freud's fulminations on psychoanalysis. An important and timely book."
– Steve Silberman, New York Times bestselling author of NeuroTribes
"As a gynecologist, I never expected a book about the penis to be so interesting or enjoyable! Phallacy is Dr. Emily Willingham's detailed, insightful, and funny cross-species biography of the penis. It's an entertaining romp that is as much about evolution as it is about emotion and egos. It shines a light on how we became so penis-centric and the resulting repercussions for science, society, and sex. You'll never look at a penis the same way again [...] and I mean that in the best of ways!"
– Dr. Jen Gunter, New York Times bestselling author of The Vagina Bible