Study Guide

The Female Man The Whileawayan Dingus

By Joanna Russ

The Whileawayan Dingus

Okay folks, let's get through this without snickering. If you've seen any of the ten million American Pie movies that have been made, you can certainly handle this. The Whileawayan dingus is a… vibrator. There, we said it. Not that anyone in The Female Man ever admits it—when Jeannine finds it and asks Joanna what it is, Joanna tells her that it's a communications device that will blow her up:

"What it does to your body," said I, choosing my words with extreme care, "is nothing compared to what it does to your mind, Jeannine. It will ruin your mind. It will explode in your brains and drive you crazy. You will never be the same again. You will be lost to respectability and decency and decorum and dependency and all sorts of other nice, normal things beginning with a D. It will kill you, Jeannine. you will be dead, dead, dead." (7.4.47)

Like the red, red rose that Laura Rose Wilding sews into the crotch of her jeans, the Whileawayan dingus symbolizes
women's sexual pleasure and expression as it occurs independently from men. When Joanna tells Jeannine that the dingus will blow her up, she's speaking euphemistically. What she means is that it would give her so much pleasure, she'd never again be satisfied by her hum-drum love life with her boyfriend Cal, or by any other man who valued his satisfaction more than her own.

It's also interesting to mention that back in the day, doctors actually used vibrators to treat patients who struggled with hysteria. Don't believe us? Check it out.