Sigmund Freud identified a variety of symbols to represent the penis—towers, flagpoles, cigars, snakes. But more often as a dream interpreter I encounter dreams with straightforward representations. A penis is a penis, no phallic symbol needed. Rather than use a symbol for the penis, it is directly represented. However, it is usually symbolism for something.
A penis is obviously symbolism when a female dreams she has one, or when a female dream character has one. The most common interpretations of penis symbolism revolve around power, dominance, fertility, or masculinity. Take the next dream, for example (link to original post; this description is a summary):
I dream that a woman I used to know talks me into having sex with her. She eventually convinces me to do it. She has a penis!
When someone from your past appears in your dreams and you haven’t had contact with them in a long time, it’s a good bet that the person is symbolism for something about yourself. Dream characters generally symbolize aspects of yourself, except in rare instances when a character is a direct representation of someone you know. Interpret the symbolism by reflecting on what you know about the person, what they are like, their personality and characteristics.
The dreamer said the woman she dreamed about was someone she trained with for triathlons, and what she remembered best was she was someone who didn’t give a crap what anyone thought of her. She was vocal and assertive, symbolized by her penis. I asked the dreamer if she saw those qualities in herself and she said yes, she was vocal and assertive and worried sometimes if she acted too masculine.
Those details reveal the symbolism and message of the dream. The female acquaintance with a penis symbolizes the side of the dreamer that is vocal and assertive—in other words, she acts masculine in some respects, and the penis is the body part most closely associated with masculinity. Having sex with her old acquaintance is a way of saying that the dreamer is connecting with the side of herself that resonates with what she knows about her acquaintance. The message of the dream is to learn from that person’s example. The dreamer can be vocal and assertive and not give a crap what people think of her. Here is another example of a dream about a female dealing with her masculine, dominant side.
The next dream featuring a female with a penis also relates to exhibiting masculine traits.
In my boyfriend’s dream we are in bed together. He looks over my naked body and sees that I have a penis. I am distressed about it (in the dream), and he tries to comfort me by playing with it.
The interpretation of this dream has a few directions it can go in. One person at Reddit Dreams, the forum where it was posted, suggested that the dreamer’s boyfriend might be secretly gay. He wishes she had a penis. I initially thought it might be a sign that the dreamer exhibits traditionally masculine traits like dominance, assertiveness, and strong opinions, which is close but doesn’t tell the whole story. The dreamer said she can be dominant while having sex. Her boyfriend had never been with a female who takes control in bed like she does. She gets nervous about it, afraid she might scare him away, and her boyfriend reassures her it’s okay. In the dream it’s symbolized as playing with her penis.
Interestingly, the girlfriend also dreams with suggestive imagery:
I have a recurring dream that I rub my clit and it gets really huge, like one of those ‘roided bodybuilding-women clits. I worry that my boyfriend will break up with me and I’ll be alone forever.
One way of looking at the symbolism is it reinforces the idea of the dreamer exhibiting dominance. After all, her clit looks like a dick in the dream (an oversized clit caused by steroids is called a “clit dick” because it looks like a small dick). Her over-sized clit could also be a way of saying she has an overcharged sex drive. However, the dreamer’s reaction during the dream tells the real story. She’s afraid that her boyfriend will notice her super clit and break up with her. It expresses her fear that her boyfriend will find something about her that he doesn’t like. He is her first sexual partner and she is deeply in love with him, and she tries extra hard to please him. Beneath her desire to please him is fear that she will lose him.
In another dream featuring penis symbolism, a guy dreamed that his girlfriend had a penis and he sucked it. She wore the pants in the relationship and controlled her boyfriend. Sucking her penis is a way of saying that she dominates him, and he allows it to happen.
The same idea is expressed in the next dream about a guy sucking his girlfriend’s penis. The dreamer is male. The narrative begins with some background information:
We had been arguing. She told me I wasn’t good at reciprocating or thanking her, and that I was selfish and full of myself. I felt really horrible. The fight went on for awhile and didn’t end well. When trying to fall asleep I was still very emotional. When I finally got to sleep I had many strange dreams, most of which I can’t recall. But I vividly remember sucking my girlfriend’s penis. I am not gay or even curious, but I was going at it. Trying really hard to please her.
This dream shows that the dreamer is trying too hard to please his girlfriend. She controls him by berating him and manipulating his emotions. Sucking her penis shows that he is submissive with her.
In the next dream, sucking a penis is related to feeling compromised.
In this extremely vivid dream, my old high school bully and a couple of his friends rape me. I’m forced to perform oral sex on one of his friends. I decide I will act like I want to do it, then tell myself to bite it off. I do, and the guy doesn’t scream, he laughs, expecting I would do this. The scene transitions and I am in front of toilet, spitting out endless bits of penis, which look more like intestines.
The experience of being bullied created a sore spot in the dreamer, a young female. Even though she’s been out of high school and away from her tormentor for a few years, she still nurses dark thoughts of revenge. You can see it in her reaction of thinking she will bite off the penis, and in thinking she can deceive the bully’s friend into letting his guard down. But ultimately the trick’s on her. Nursing thoughts of revenge is keeping her tied to the past, to the experience of being bullied and humiliated. Her reaction to the scenario gives away the meaning of the symbolism.
When she spits out bits of penis it symbolizes getting the experience out of her a little at a time, like sucking venom from a wound. It’s also a way saying that she’s still chewing on it, still thinking about it. She needs to let go of the past.
Because the penis is associated with sex, dream imagery featuring the penis can be related to a person’s sex life, perceptions or sexual attitudes. Take the next dream, for example.
I find what looks like a fake, tiny penis, but when I put it on my body (for some reason) I could use it to pee, etc. (I didn’t have a penis in this dream.) Then I throw up chunky white stuff—no taste, just a grody texture—into the garbage. At the end of the dream the head of the tiny dick was gone, and the same gross white stuff was coming out of the shaft…which sounds like an STD, but I don’t have sex.
The end of the dream description clued me in to the meaning. The dreamer says he doesn’t have sex, which isn’t normal for a young man. There must be a reason for it, and it’s found in the dream imagery of the white stuff. The action of throwing it up into the garbage symbolizes his feelings about sex and body fluids. He is revolted by even the thought of it. Notice that the same white stuff comes out of the shaft. Seems pretty obvious to me what it represents, and how the dreamer feels about it.
Now what about the imagery of the tiny penis? It symbolizes the dreamer’s lack of desire to have sex. You could say he has a tiny sex drive. In the dream he has no penis, then finds the tiny, fake one and puts it on. It works to pee with, which is fine with the dreamer, but anything else that can be done with it is out of the question. He is too disgusted by the thought.
Dreams can use penis symbolism to express high sex drive too, like in the next dream.
I was naked in this field and I was using my penis as a plow. If you have ever seen a lizard walk it was kinda like that, except I used my raging boner as a plow. I’ve never set foot on a farm or touched a plow. Really confused.
This dream is expressing the dreamer’s desire to figuratively plow a field. He hasn’t had sex in a while and the urge is really building in him. Plow a field is slang for intercourse, and this dream brings the slang to life through imagery of plowing a field with a raging boner.
In the dream about the tiny penis, the size of it is a commentary about the dreamer’s sex drive. The next dream also uses size to express amount, but this time the symbolism is related to the connection between the penis and machismo.
The dreamer is an adult female, and her brother is older than her. His personality is like a character from an episode of Law & Order, a hardened criminal tough guy who has done time in prison and constantly feels the need to prove what a man he is. You could say he’s a big dick. His over-size manhood symbolizes his over-sized machismo.
Sigmund Freud’s emphasis on phallic imagery and its connection to infantile sexuality appears to be a bit misguided because it is not found that often in the general public, but it does pop up once in a while. The telltale sign is not found in symbols for the penis, but in absurd actions or reactions involving it. The dreamer will show obsessive behavior involving their penis, or the dream imagery will be completely absurd and sexual. Dream symbolism is strange anyway when compared with reality, but in dreams about obsessive or skewed sexuality the imagery is especially absurd. I find these sorts of dreams to be the most likely to use phallic imagery because the dream has to disguise the true meaning in order to present it to the conscious side of the mind.
People with obsessions or personal issues are not able to see themselves clearly. They have low capacity for self-reflection, so their dreams are especially obscure.
Sorry Dr. Freud, but phallic symbols aren’t needed to talk about the penis and what it symbolizes. A direct representation is more likely to get the attention of the dreamer. However, emphasis on phallic symbols is not a complete waste of time. Now we see them everywhere!
If you have ideas about how to interpret the meaning of penis dreams, please leave a comment