Loved, hated, played-with - discussed and disgusting, adored and reviled - the penis inspires controversy and ambivalence as much as it represents the possibility of new life, the best of procreative value and the worst of patriarchal excess. From the magic wand that bestows pleasure and love, to the brutal or indifferent instrument of abuse and pain, women's experience of the penis ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the transcendent to the mundane.

But what if a woman could try one out, just for a day? To what uses could it be put? What mischief and adventures, or simple opportunities to inhabit new space? What object lessons for its everyday owners, the men we love?

Dick for A Day invites women to develop fantasies of appropriation - a chance to hijack maleness in whatever form we choose. In addition to trying out the penis as a ticket to masculine worlds, Dick For A Day explores what happens when the penis finds itself in the female realm - a place where it gets to stay after coming, goes shopping for health and beauty products, talks dirty with its girlfriends over lunch, and goes home to a pint of ice-cream and a wardrobe crisis. The result is not so much a woman's head on a male body as a huge girlie erection with great hair.

Outside of pornography, the penis is rarely rhapsodized about, philosophized upon, or made a subject of love. Within pornography, it is as often a weapon for punishment or revenge as it is a slave, provider or tool for pleasure. Although the penis has received some well-deserved bad press in its time, the absence of esthetic appreciations of the penis can only be a cultural loss.

Despite the overload of clichéd symbolism to portray phallic worship and ejaculation - superheroes scaling buildings, exploding fighter planes - the body, face and gestures of men at their moment of ecstasy are sadly missing. Beyond the assumption that this is a triumphant moment for any man, no one cares to ask if it was good for him too.

The absence of interest in the finer details of male sexual experience might be a form of neglect; but it also implies that men prefer to do the looking than be looked at - or don't like to own up to it if they do.

In Dick For A Day women get to watch - and to masquarade as themselves, as men, and whatever may lie between us.

Fiona Giles 1997 ©