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A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of The Penis

Book by David M. Friedman (Out of Print)

Try to buy it here


Mom says…

The title of this book may just as well have been “The Long and Heartbreaking History of Violence and Misogyny” How could such a fascinating book be so ground breaking and also so infuriatingly mundane? Ground breaking because even ME, a soul searching, meditating, therapy-attending west coast sex worker, could have a totally unexamined relationship with Dick that this book helped revolutionize. THANK GODDESS this book proves we aren’t crazy for this blind spot either as it thoroughly and deliberately traces the history of man’s own violence against his own body (aka penis) as a way to make him feel closest to god and therefore better than all other creatures. By the logic of the god-dick, women deserve all the alternating periods of violence and overly-precious treatment for the last 4 millennia. My heart breaks to learn that at every turning point in history, from the fall of the Babylonians to the 2016 election, modern humans have chosen to believe that penises are closer to god, nobility, truth and power AND PREFERRED over the pleasure and experiences of the rest of the body. I am grateful for my new reframing of misogyny—that it is born from men taking the first step and being violent to themselves. However, this book does a huge disservice in blatantly refusing to include any history of women. It’s like writing a history of America without including anything about the native populations here first or the entire slave trade and subsequent history of racism and violence that continues to poison our culture. I was excited for Book Club to read this book because we sex workers can be real know-it-alls when in comes to dick: all of our dollars come from a relationship with dick we have mastered. After reading this book, I am disappointingly affirmed at how hard it is for us humans (like the author David M. Friedman) to take a step back and see themselves, their bodies and their contributions to violence for what it is: not at all godly and entirely human.

Discussion Prompts

  • How/why is “Demon Rod” an appropriate title for Chapter 1? Is it appropriate?

  • Make a chronological map/list of different cultures’ beliefs on the penis.

  • At what point in history did we notice that the penis became a tool for violence (as opposed to a tool for creation)?

  • Why do you think the penis became the single authority on god, losing its more nuanced and complex identity with the mystery of life?

Arts-n-Crafts Idea

Make healing penis art duh!! As unique as all the dick out there.