Charisma doesn’t need a phallic rebrand | Tech News

Ariana Grande did not invent the phrase big dick energy, nor did she invent the concept, but it did start with her boyfriend, Pete Davidson, of whom she allegedly tweeted that he was endowed to the tune of 10in. That message has since been deleted, and anyway, has nothing to do with, or is at best only tangential to, big dick energy. It was discussed by the Twitter user @babyvietcong, who wrote that it does not “just apply to men, or indeed to people with penises”. “It is confidence without cockiness,” added @priya_ebooks – in the manner of a meme that speaks some pre-known truth, people acquired an instant authority around the term – “It is never misplaced and cannot be simulated. It is the sexual equivalent of writing a check for $10,000 knowing you got it in the bank.”

Except, if we want to nitpick about it, it has nothing to do with sex: Oscar the Grouch has it; “doing hard drugs, upholding capitalism, supporting ICE [US Immigration and Customs Enforcement] is not Big Dick Energy” (and that is straight from @babyvietcong). You have to take the logic of his or her position, here: if big dick energy has anything to do with upholding capitalism, then it can't be literally dick-related. You could neither uphold nor bring down capitalism with your penis, nor even provide any modest underpinning for a democratic mixed-market. If you're still struggling with the first question – who is Ariana Grande? – she is a singer and actress, but this doesn't really describe her. She's kind of a magnetic energy. Grande dick energy, if you like.

The resonance of that word, “endowment”, applied to both men and women in the possession of distinctive sexual characteristics, is ungendered and timeless: it has always been conceived as a wealth beyond imagining, to have Big Anythings, a gift of fate that, wisely invested, keeps on giving.

Just one tiny “but”; there was no real need to invent this phrase, when perfectly serviceable and demonstrably gender-neutral words already existed, indeed proliferated, for the phenomenon. “Charisma” or “mojo” would have done it. There was nothing wrong with the phrase “quiet confidence”, except maybe that it has been around too long. “Big dick energy” takes a trait without a gender, an important quality that contains elements of life chances, leadership potential and fundamental human decency, repositions it with a penis at the centre, then generously offers those of us without penises the option of joining in, on the basis that the penis is only nominal because Cate Blanchett has it. Freud's penis-envy, at the centre of so much female disorder, was oh so true if “envy” was shorthand for: “You think the what resides in the penis? The wellspring of all courage, solidarity and power? The seed of life, the enforcement of order on chaos, the energies, light and dark, of the universe? Are you guys having a laugh? Why don't you just situate all human intelligence in the Adam's apple and say what you mean?”

Simultaneously, in penis land, the heartwarming story landed of Andrew Wardle, who was born without a penis 44 years ago, and with his bladder outside his body. Pioneering medical treatment has fashioned him a member using a skin graft from his arm, with a pump to mimic an erection. “I will even be able to perform if I am drunk,” he said, sunnily, concluding “it's not the be all and end all”. Easy openness, self-deprecation rooted in self-possession – we could salute Mr Wardle's paradoxical big dick energy; but it would be just as accurate, and less phallocentric, to say: “He seems like a nice bloke, and good luck to him”.

The NHS march could be one hell of an angry birthday party

Marching used to be very simple: you didn't like a thing, you protested against the thing, with others, making up chants as you went. Some of them were very naff, and sat in your mouth like something rancid, but you chanted them anyway because this seemed like a reasonable price of entry into the warm embrace of the brother and sisterhood.

The NHS march this weekend is a celebration: 70 years of pooling resources to take care of each other, 70 years of freedom from fear, 70 years of stories so full of hope and fellowship it makes your eyes prick whenever you see an ambulance. It's like the Queen's birthday but with all the pomp and pageantry replaced with the beauty of actual lives and feelings. And yet we know this isn't a carnival: this is a demonstration, against privatisation and underfunding, against a health secretary who regularly traduces the dedication and brilliance of his million-strong army, against a cravenly dishonest government peddling a spending bonanza that is nothing more than what they should have been spending all along. It could be mass-choreographed by Danny Boyle and everyone could turn up in an apron, and we would still – I'd hope – be pretty angry.

I do not really know what to make of this angry birthday party idea. I didn't know what to make of the anti-Brexit march, where some of the people were my people, but there was a guy in front of me who'd brought along a roast chicken. I don't really know what to make of the Women's march against Trump staying non-partisan, when there's one party that is against the first wannabe dictator of the postwar developed world order and one party that manifestly is not.

I do not know what to make of modern protest in any of its forms. I'm not even remotely used to marching in the sunshine. I guess I'll just go along for the tan.

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