April 01, 2014

As a teenager trolling for role models, I latched onto all the female performers in the punk and New Wave camps: Nina Hagen, The Slits, Siouxsie Sioux”€”even, God help me, Lene Lovich.

“€œAll,”€ that is, except Chrissie Hynde. My indifference was irrational, and bordered on outright hostility. On paper, the leader of The Pretenders was practically perfect. Unlike many of her punkish peers (male and female), Hynde was a serious musician. She didn”€™t dress like a slut or even smile for pictures.

So why did her breakout single, “€œBrass in Pocket”€ (and its accompanying heavy-rotation video), present her as a neurotic bimbo? The song’s protagonist vows to use every tool at her disposal to attract the object of her desire”€”her “€œarms,”€ “€œlegs,”€ and “€œfingers”€”€”but each weird affirmation of self-confidence (“€œI got brass”€”€”that is, cash”€””€œin pocket”€) makes her seem more desperate and therefore less attractive.

Maybe, instead of brass, Chrissie should have gone with bronze”€”a little bronze penis, to be precise.

This isn’t an April Fools”€™ gag, by the way. Sculptor Holly Wilson really has launched a Kickstarter crowdsourcing campaign called “€œBring Your Dick to the Table.”€ Here’s the backstory:

“Would I purchase one, though? Nope. Contra Freud, I’ve never, even briefly, wished I’d been born with a penis.”

After a male gallery owner screwed her over on a commission agreement, Wilson concluded that, “€œIf I only had a dick, the gallery wouldn”€™t be doing this to me.”€

That she then called her husband and asked him what to do adds a dash of accidental hilarity to the situation. But unlike most (post-) modern artists, Wilson’s sense of humor is not only intact but (mostly) intentional. Plus she has a head for business.

Wishing for “€œa little bronze dick that I could put in my pocket, so I could hold on to the little dick whenever I had trouble,”€ Wilson designed and cast a one and a half-inch prototype for herself. Now she’s hoping to fund an initial production run of 100 wee wee-wees, available in bronze, silver or gold, “€œleaning “€˜Left”€™ or “€˜Right”€™ depending on your personal or political preferences.”€

Kudos to Wilson for making lemonade out of molten metal or whatever, but peevish objections immediately arise.

This prickly crank at formerly great Bust Magazine is pretty typical:

“€œWilson is a cis-woman, which gives her a certain kind of privilege,”€ tsks human toothache Kelsey Haight. After spouting a metric ton of this trendy, twisted jargon, Haight sounds almost human when s/he whimpers, “€œIt scares me.”€

Wilson has a response at the ready:

“€œ[…S]ome people say, “€˜This shouldn”€™t be the image of women’s liberation.”€™ I want to clarify that this isn”€™t my symbol of womanhood. It’s just a humorous talisman to remind us that this is what our detractors are basing their judgments on, and that’s ridiculous.”€

I hate to say it, but I see her critics”€™ point, even if I hate the way they express it. On the topic of fashionable, faddish social science, didn”€™t we all decide that Freud was bunk long ago? Yet Wilson’s endeavor suggests that the old Viennese putz was actually onto something with his “€œpenis envy”€ stuff.


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