Penis envy refers to the envy the female feels toward the male because the male possesses a penis; this is accompanied by a sense of loss because the female does not have a penis.

Penis e nvy is a Freudian term describing the disappointment of girls when they discover they do not have a male appendage and resulting in the limitations of women's superego development. Horney countered the sexist concept by suggesting womb envy for men.

According to Freud, the girl's phallic stage is focused on the absence of a penis and the desire to have one , thus the emergence of the term penis envy which is used to describe girls' supposed desire to have a penis. The girl decides that the mother is responsible for this lack, so she begins to hate her mother and desire her father (who could provide her with a penis). Just as with boys, girls resolve the conflict between their desires and socially-accepted behavior by identifying with the same-sex parent and adopting their values.

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