I finally figured out what my feminist superpower is: I shrink the genitals of insecure men. No, really– all it takes is a few words, or sometimes just a look, without saying anything. Sometimes all it takes is not looking at them and saying nothing. And sometimes, all it takes is me existing in this world, without even being aware of their existence.
I have had this superpower since I was in high school. A few of the more insecure guys in my classes made the mistake of saying not-nice things to me, and I responded with cutting set-downs. Their genitals shrank so badly they resorted to saying those things about me to my twin sister, in hopes that would restore their former size, but <sigh> so far as I can find out, it never did.
I continued to have this superpower, and insecure men continued to respond by trying desperately to compensate for their shrinkage in various ways — aggressive sexual behavior, verbal abuse, street harassment, some of them even tried raping me! But it never worked — they all limped away, as insecure as ever, and much more frightened of me than they had been before.
I used to say such men had a condition called “egalophobia” – fear of equality – but now I realize, they have gynophobia: fear of vaginas. You can observe gynophobia in all sorts of men, both conservative and progressive, atheist and religious, straight and gay. They exhibit different but related symptoms: they become aroused by filmed rape/abuse of girls/women (porn) or by raping girls/women (prostitution or non-paid forms of rape), or they defend such predatory, misogynist industries; they insist on centering males in science, religion, politics, or their communities; they interrupt, mansplain, gaslight, tell/laugh at sexist jokes, ogle women (on TV or on the street), etc.—you know the patterns.
Sometimes, they try desperately to convince themselves that I have not actually shrunk their penises. For example, I visited a dermatologist last week about a benign mole on my back. After I had shrunk his penis by disagreeing with him about politics (though we were both left-leaning), he started flailing in terror. In desperation, he made a crude joke about how he would like to give me a breast exam. At first, I was pretty upset. But then I realized — poor guy, he must have really been attached to his former genital size, and he’s just bereft, grieving the loss of his manhood. I hope the state licensing board understands that superpowers such as mine aren’t always easy to control.
I seem to have passed my superpower on to my daughters. One poor man had the misfortune of having his genitals dramatically shrunk last week. My ten year old daughter walked down the street, and her mere proximity to his car caused grievous penal shrinkage. He must have been utterly terrified, because his response was truly pathetic: He leered lewdly at my prepubescent daughter and gave her a slow, sleazy nod of sordid lechery. At first, she was pretty upset. But then she realized — that extent of genital withering is probably excruciating, and he may simply have been grimacing in agony.
You can witness religious gynophobia in the terror men (and the women who look to them for protection) exhibit when you mention female divine symbols, pronouns, or titles. I preached a sermon once about how we should all be calling God “she” or even “Goddess,” and every man in the church suffered so much genital shriveling that they couldn’t even look me in the eye upon leaving the sanctuary. Well, except one man, who said it was the best sermon he’d ever heard. So I married him. Size does matter, wink wink.
You can witness atheist gynophobia in the gymnastics New Atheists do to insist that men are scientifically superior to women, or to prevent females from being treated with the same respect as males in atheist communities. You can see it in politics, when men call women “shrill” or “unlikeable” and when men (and the women who look to them for protection) defend creepy behavior by popular males within their party <cough> <Biden> <cough> <ahem>.
Even men who try to be allies sometimes find themselves alarmed by twinges of genital diminishing, and their alarm prompts them to respond to last week’s incidents by saying things such as, “I don’t think that warrants reporting him to the licensing board,” or “Why would she be so upset by him just looking at her and smiling?” Poor dears… it can be a tough world out there with all those scary, scary vaginas trying to bite off chunks of your penises with their vagina shark fangs.
Unfortunately for gynophobic men, not only does my superpower not appear to be diminishing with time, it seems actually to be growing. So much so that I sometimes wonder if every penis I shrink adds strength to my superpower! Not only is my own power growing, I have actually witnessed a growing number of women with my superpower! And… from what I can tell, these women’s penile-reducing power is also growing stronger with time, as well!! I have detected an actual movement of such women, a sort of… “radical feminism,” perhaps… like a Marvel Superhero team of sorts, in which each woman has unique gifts, but the same superpower. I think perhaps the power comes from utter and complete indifference to pleasing the patriarchal male gaze and all its offshoots of pandering and cozying up to terrified, flailingly aggressive men. From what I can gather, the stronger a woman’s indifference, the stronger her superpower, and the more she turns insecure gynophobes into trembling piles of jelly.
Well. I’m sure some folks will read this article and be Deeply Concerned about the Men With Actually Smallish Penises who might feel Sad that I used penis size as a symbol for patriarchal social currency, because making fun of patriarchal posturing is Unladylike and Unkind. I refer such folks to the above paragraph about how the stronger a woman’s indifference to men who try to center themselves, the stronger her superpower.
Fuck This Sexist Shit
Smash The Patriarchy
Rage On, Sisters.
*Tallessyn Grenfell-Lee came up with the phrase ‘scary, scary vaginas,’ for which the world owes her much gratitude!
Trelawney Grenfell-Muir teaches courses about Sex, Dating, Marriage, and Work in the Religion and Theological Studies Department at Merrimack College and about Cross Cultural Conflict in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A Senior Discussant at the Religion and the Practices of Peace Initiative at Harvard University, she holds an M.Div. from the Boston University School of Theology with a concentration in Religion and Conflict, and a Ph.D. in Conflict Studies and Religion with the University Professors Program at Boston University. She currently writes articles, book chapters, and liturgical resources about feminist, nature-based Christianity.