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Thomas, M. (1951). Sexual Symbolism in Industry. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 32:128-133.

(1951). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 32:128-133

Sexual Symbolism in Industry

Merlin Thomas

In this article, examples will be presented of the use of sexual terms in modern industry. The field covered will be restricted to those branches of the engineering industry of which the author has direct knowledge, namely, general engineering, steel, oil refining, and building, with a few examples from mining. It is not suggested that the examples here quoted exhaust the field under observation.

In general engineering, the male and female principles are of fundamental importance. All projections, in fact all fittings that enter into another, are male. All orifices, indents, etc., which receive a fitting or projection, are female. Threads, for instance, are either male or female: those outside are male, those inside female. As illustration we will take a bolt. This has an outside thread, and is male, its function being to go inside the nut. The nut has an inside thread; it is female. The word 'bolt' is used also of, and is perhaps derived from, something which penetrates the human body—an archer's bolt. It has a connexion with classical antiquity, being the weapon of the great god Zeus. (In this connexion it may be remembered that one of the common designations of the penis is 'weapon'.) The word 'nut' is the same as that used to denote the fruit of certain trees. Fruit of various kinds is commonly symbolic of the female genitals.

Bastardy is a pronounced theme in engineering. Threads are of various types, each with its own name, which is determined by the number of threads to the inch.

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