Patricia Simons; Manliness and the Visual Semiotics of Bodily Fluids in Early Modern Culture. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 May 2009; 39 (2): 331–373. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-2008-025
The ubiquity and charm of pissing putti in early modern imagery has inured us to their valence, for an important proof of masculinity in the European tradition is to be able to emit fluids from the penis, usually with some force, and significantly while standing erect. In early modern culture, the fluids were multiple and metaphoric, inviting a range of erotic wordplays and visual puns about urine, semen, water, and wine. The sexual economy was as much characterized by liquidity as it was obsessed with penile penetration. The somatics and semiotics of early modern masculinity consisted of more than sexual intromission or inhibiting anxiety, and visual metaphors presented manliness in ways that were often humorous, usually public, and always assertive.