A Short Inquiry Into Homunculus Theory, its Untimely
Overthrow by the "Sperm-Meets-Egg" Story, And its Retro-Deconstruction
and the Subsequent Emergence of Honuncula Theory
by Angelina Potowski-Smith-Weaver-Ash
The brutality and ruthless insidiousness of the maledominated scientific
regime can be seen in stark silhouette when one comes to understand
how even theories constructed for no purpose other than to entrench
male privilege and power fall victim to the ram-rod assault of Linear
Progress. For example, the belief that the entire human organism in
miniature form -- the homunculus -- was contained in the spermatozoa,
was predicated on the assumption that the male is normative and active
-- ejaculating its will and its likeness out into a passive female world.
The female, in this view, served only as a nutritive field -- a convenient
cuntainer in which the male-generated miniature man could grow. In some
versions of the story, the father's right testicle was thought to produce
male offspring, while the left 
testicle was thought to suffer from insufficient blood flow, resulting
in defective spermatozoa, producing a substandard, or female
The fact that the scientific perspective 
has shifted on the subject of human reproduction in no way exonerates
science from its male bias. The entire scientific enterprise is at its
root an expression of the universal male lust to apprehend and gain
control over external reality. The masculine need to project maleness
ever further out into the world hints at the motivations behind the
overthrow of the homunculus as the active instrument of procreation:
plausible deniability. By seeming to involve the woman as an "equal
participant" and a contributor of substance to the procreative
process, the universal Male Agendum (rape) can be masked behind the
veil of necessary female complicity.
By this diabolical shift away from unabashed male aggressiveness, toward
the illusion of sexual equality, through the subterfuge of sperm-meets-egg,
Western, maledominated Science has simultaneously placated women and
given men a license to rape. Given the notion that women are equal participants
in the programme of heterosexual intercourse, men are free to absolve
themselves of full culpability. Further, by giving women a role in the
generative process that is seen (presumably at least by the men who
propound the sperm-meets-egg theory) to be more invested than being
merely fertile soil for sowing by men, Science has preempted the deconstruction
of homunculus theory and the development of feminist and wymynyst counterparts.
penelope ann has suggested the beginnings of just such a theory in chapter
7 of her book Fixing Our Fathers .
ann has postulated the honuncula as the mostly-formed, diminutive proto-woman
that exists within the so-called ovum. The male sperm cells, in ann's
view, serve only to break open the protective shell surrounding the
honuncula, causing an inrushing of the surrounding nutritive fluids
already present within the woman. These nutritive fluids -- long ignored
by Western, maledominated medical science, but verified in several independent
studies -- initiate the development of the honuncula into a foetus.
Slightly less than half the time, an extra sperm cell will lodge itself
in the proto-vaginal opening of the honuncula, violently injecting its
payload of testosterone. The sperm cell itself fuses with the unlucky
honuncula, developing eventually into the penis. Males are therefore
an aberrant mutation of the normative human form -- the female.
penelope ann has provided, tit for tadger, an equal and opposite story
of procreation to that of the homunculus .
Indeed, it is this vital and powerful retelling that the sperm-meets-egg
formulation was crafted to forestall. Some early microscope observers
reported "seeing" tiny homuncula in the head of sperm cells.
But these "spermists" were soon rebutted by "ovists"
who reported "seeing" the proto-humans in female egg cells.
But this tiny, helpless honunculitic precursor to full-grown honuncula
theory was so feared by the maledominated scientific establishment that
it was not permitted to come to fruition. Even the overtly patriarchal
homunculus theory was to be exposed to the elements on the mountainside
of His-story in order that the placating notion of epigenesis
could be instituted. Under the rubrics of "science," "objectivity"
and "fact" the patriarchy buried the nascent honuncula theory,
seemingly forever. But in the last years of the twentieth century, the
circumcision and unmasking of the entire programme of modernity (including
without a doubt the scientific paradigm) as irredeemably patriarchal
has opened up new womb for the birthing of alternative conceptions of
the procreative story.
Since all men are placed in a superior power position to all women
under patriarchy, all heterosexual intercourse, as we have now come
to understand, is tantamount to rape. Honuncula theory cannot change
this irrefutable truth of personal-politics. But it does lay bare the
violence inherent in the male psyche and reaffirms wymynhood as necessary
and perhaps sufficient for the growth of new life. The contribution
of the male is entirely unwitting. Desiring only to penetrate, cleave,
and infiltrate, the male clumsily fires his bullet-like sperm into the
innocent honuncula. But it is the wysdom of the wymyn that transforms
the male's clumsy attempt at violation into the nurturance of new life.
As always, the man's brutish urges and occasional misguided attempts
to provide something - anything -- of value, are redeemed only by the
sacred circle of wymyn's wysdom.
But honuncula theory opens up the intriguing possibility that some
way might be found to do away with the need for male violence entirely.
If the honuncula could be gently coaxed to come out of its protective
ovum into the nutritive environment of the womb on its own, there might
be no need any longer for the violent intrusion of penis and sperm,
the toxicity of testosterone, or even the male creature himself. According
to honuncula theory, all proto-humans are normatively female and only
become male on occasion in the presence of male toxics. If male poison
could be made unnecessary for the debut of the honuncula, then
there would necessarily be no further males produced.
Eve O has written 
that maleness, as a mutated form of Hufemity, is obsolete. It is not
merely patriarchy that is an aberration, but paternity
itself. The term "patriarchy," she contends, is redundant,
and the term "matriarchy" an oxymoron. The only way to rid
the world of patriarchy is for wymyn to refuse to bear sons. At her
ranch in Nevada, she holds feminars enclosing around the center of wymyn
learning wymyn into "non-invasive pro-generation of persons from
the unvictimized ovum." The movement for "birth without violence"
was merely the pre-nurtured form of the movement for procreation without
violence. The new rallying cry for reproductive freedom is "Reproduction
of wymyn by wymyn and for wymyn!"
One thorny question that has plagued radical feminism for decades is
nicely explained by honuncula theory. If men truly are not superior
to wymyn, and all herstory is a dialectical struggle between all men
and all wymyn, then why have men been so completely dominant for so
long? If men don't even quite make up half the population, then surely
there would have been something more like parity achieved in this struggle.
Setting aside for the moment that this is a logical argument and logic
is itself a tool of patriarchy, we have to be somewhat compelled by
this notion. We seem to come to the conclusion that some wymyn are,
in effect, in traitorous collusion with men, at least some of the time.
Ascribing such complicity purely to the socialization of little girls
doesn't solve the problem, because under patriarchy children are brought
up by their mothers, men being emotionally if not (blessedly) physically
absent. So if all wymyn are always in mortal struggle with all men,
it would seem likely that wymyn, forced into grudging servitude as baby
factories and maids, would teach their children -- both male and female
-- the truth about maledomination. Patriarchy would then be overthrown,
or at least challenged on equal footing, within a few generations.
But as wymyn's herstory of victimization shows, maledomination is deeply
rooted and until recently, seemingly secure. Learned behaviors in and
of themselves make an unsatisfying explanation of this sad situation.
Honuncula theory provides us with the missing piece of the puzzle --
a piece that the promulgators of the sperm-meets-egg story evidently
wanted to obliterate. penelope ann postulates that the presence of the
seminal-testosteronal mutagens in the early environment of the developing
foetus poisons even female embryos with some degree of latent masculinity
Thus biochemically preindoctrinated, little girls come into
the world ready to accept the degrading sex-roles forced on them by
maledominated society. All wymyn are therefore not only products
of male victimization (rape) of their mothers, but are themselves born
victimized by prenatal exposure to caustic and debilitating male hormones.
This proto-victimization inherent in all heterosexual intercourse, including
that resulting in pregnancy, is the homunculus that, when sown into
the fertile field of maledominated socialization, grows into the wretched
weed of lifelong female victimization.
Though long delayed by patriarchal "science" the story of
the Honuncula has now been born to the world. It's about time.
1. The left testicle was specified because "left"
= L. sinister. This equates femaleness with evil and worldliness,
as opposed to maleness, which was seen as transcendent or celestial.
2. The very notion of "perspective" implies male rape
of a female world. When we think of perspective in a Cartesian sense,
images of a grid, or matrix are called to mind. The matrix (meaning
mother) in perspective painting, for example, is laid out at the feet
of the viewer (who obviously assumes the upright male position) as if
in preparation for an act of copulation. [continue]
3. Fixing Our Fathers: Unliving the Toxic Masculine
Myth, penelope ann, New Rage Books, 1991. [continue]
4. Presented in expanded form in: The Honuncula
-- Harlot and Virgin in One Being as the Primordial Template for Human
Life. penelope ann, New Rage Books, 1997. [continue]
5. The End of the Line: Healing the Male Mutation
and the Restoration of the Circular Center. Eve O, East Western
Women's Press, 2000. [continue]
6. "The Biochemical Origins of Male Domination" penelope
ann, in The Journal of Feminist Knowings, Volume XVI, p. 345.
Jane Clairemore, ed. See also, "Profaning the Temple," penelope ann,
in In Your Face, June 1998, p. 28. [continue]