From the pornographic penis to the biotechnical phallus

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Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Lingnan University

Event Title

Cultural Magazine Series, 2003-04

Document Type

Public Seminar




5:30 p.m. -- 7:00 p.m.


G06, General Education Building, Lingnan University


Penis enhancement, encompassing legitimate medical treatment of erectile dysfunction as well as the pumps, pills, creams, and sprays of the non-medical sector and the recreational use of medical treatments such as Viagra and others, as well as surgery (penis enlargement surgery is the fastest growing sector of the cosmetic surgery industry), is big business. There has been a significant shift in recent years in the way in which medical treatment discourses have constituted the deflated penis, which we could characterise as a move from the notion of impotence to the concept of erectile dysfunction. This is a shift from a sexual, emotional or psychological understanding of men to one in which gaining an erection is a mechanical performance, where the penis is a biotechnological device, rather than an organ of desire, pleasure or sexual intimacy.

In this presentation, I situate this shift in the context of the pornographication of Anglo-American culture, and make connections between the consumption of pornography by heterosexual men, and the discourses that are shaping the biotech industry.



Additional Information


Stephen Maddison is a senior lecturer in the School of Cultural and Innovation Studies at the University of East London, where he works as Subject Co-ordinator for Cultural Studies, and teaches units on Cultural Politics, Representation, Sexual Cultures and Lesbian and Gay Cultures. He completed his doctorate at Sussex University with Alan Sinfield in1997, which was subsequently rewritten and published by Macmillan (UK) and St. Martins Press (US) as Fags, Hags and Queer Sisters: Gender Dissent and Heterosocial Bonds in Gay Culture (2000). His publications include, “Gay Men and Female Identification: Pathology or Cultural Dissent?” (Psycho-Politics and Cultural Desires , 1998), “All About Women: Pedro Almodovar and the Heterosocial Dynamic” (Textual Practice, 2000), Author: “Small Towns, Boys and Ivory Towers: A Naked Academic” (Temporalities: Autobiography in a Postmodern Age, 2002), “From Porno-topia to Total Information Awareness. Or, what forces really govern access to porn?” (New Formations, forthcoming May 2004) and “The Edge of Reason: The Myth of Bridget Jones” (with Merl Storr, Transformations in Culture and Society, Spring 2004). He is currently working on a new book on the new politics of pornography.

Recommended Citation

Maddison, S. (2004, March 29). From the pornographic penis to the biotechnical phallus [Video podcast]. Retrieved from http://commons.ln.edu.hk/videos/222