Mainsream culture dictates that bigger equals better; that the size of a man's penis foreshadows both his sexual ability and self-worth. We need penis diversity - now.
04 Septiembre 2018 16:43
By Eloise Edgington
Millennia ago, a tiny penis was a sought-after look. In ancient Greece, a small, flaccid penis was a sign of being a logical and rational man, who was in control of his desires. That’s why you’ll find tiny marble penises proudly on display in museums around the world. Rather than filling onlookers with admiration, like those of the Greek heroes and gods did, the typical response to a small penis these days is to laugh and snigger. And in the case of bringing a potential significant other home after a date, a small penis is usually less funny and often considered a hindrance to pleasure.
‘Nowadays it’s all about big dicks’, my male colleague puts it bluntly. ‘You’re the most alpha male depending on your dick size. [As if it determines] how strong you are. ‘It’s very basic, heteronormative, patriarchal masculinity. And in the end it shows how fragile masculinity is, because everything is based around a piece of meat.’
Big penises are put on a pedestal, and small ones are rendered to the bottom of the pile. ‘We have lots of jokes that we tell about small penises. It’s totally socially appropriate for someone to make a comment about small penises,’ says Dr. Alicia Walker, a sociologist at Missouri State University, who this summer made international headlines when she launched a study about how penis size affects men
Is there a correlation between the size of a man’s penis and his level of self-esteem? And how does this consequently affect his behaviour? Will he be less likely to approach partners? Use condoms? How does this affect how he perceives his own attractiveness? ‘A link has already been established between lower self-esteem and men who perceive themselves to be small. Is it possible that our social worship of size has created the circumstances that link higher self-esteem or confidence, with being more well-endowed?’
Dr. Walker completed 30 phone interviews over the space of a week-and-a-half and collected a wide range of survey data. ‘In terms of preliminary findings, I did find that men who believe themselves to be small do struggle with things like condom use, approaching new potential partners, men who are avoiding physicals, for example, because they don’t want anyone to see them naked other than their partner. Some men were convinced that no-one was ever going to love them as a result,’ she explains.
However, after conducting her preliminary research she was forced to close her study and destroy all the data she had collected. The media attention it had received had provoked a number of men to get in touch with Dr. Walker to complain about what she was doing. Her objective had been misunderstood; many thought she was trying to perpetuate the belief that the size of your dick determines your character, rather than expose the damage caused by society’s attitudes surrounding size.
Penis size worship is everywhere: underwear adverts; penis enlargement adverts; porn. Such unrealistic body standards create the well-observed notion that penises must fulfill certain criteria. Penis diversity is virtually non-existent. ‘Unfortunately, porn is so prolific, that people internalise what they’re seeing as that being the average,’ says Dr. Walker. ‘A lot of these men, in terms of what the actual averages are, are not small at all, but they believe themselves to be small, and that’s what matters: how do they see themselves?’
Representations of sex in the mainstream media place much importance on penetration being the key to satisfaction. Women who reach orgasm solely from penetration are, in fact, in the minority, yet this is constantly fed to us as the ‘right way’ to have sex. ‘I don’t think any kind of sex, be it anal, vaginal, oral, straight, queer, lesbian, has to be focused on a phallus. There’s so much else you can do,’ my male colleague tells me.
Pornography is a huge platform supplying the notion that big equals better. The male porn star is almost always well-endowed. The lack of diversity in mainstream porn has been widely criticised for its problematic representation of sex, the objectification of women, and only casting women who fit a certain ‘type’. And while there is an ever-growing feminist porn movement which sets out to champion diversity, do we still have a lot further to go before there is equal penis representation?
Sylvan, a porn performer and director who has drifted between working in the mainstream and alternative porn industry, says there is a social perception that to work in porn you have to have a big dick. But, contrary to popular opinion, ‘it will open doors for you but it’s not the main thing’. He adds: ‘There are people who don’t have huge dicks who work very well in porn... in alternative porn, it’s not only women giving pleasure to men, and it’s not focused only on penetration, so it’s not that important. It takes pressure off you. If you have problem there, they will change the position of the camera.’
Size worship and shaming also permeates language; we even refer to someone’s bravery by referencing the size of their balls. A man who buys an expensive car will become the butt of jokes about him making up for ‘something else’. In 2018, the internet is all over Big Dick Energy (BDE), and while the term isn’t directly referring to the size of someone’s dick, the name itself can still be seen as problematic. Dr. Walker argues that the concept of BDE, although an effort to try and dispel toxic masculinity, still feeds into this idea that male genitalia foreshadows social position and self-worth.
Visibility of all body types is no doubt essential to changing the way we think not just about size, but all of our differences. Whether they be physical or straddle social and cultural lines, differences should be normalised and, most importantly, accepted. Dr. Walker’s study could have opened up an important conversation about male body-shaming but it was cut short. ‘For every person who was upset and sent hate mail, there were 30-50 positive responses saying, “What you’re doing is really important, people don’t talk about this enough”. So many men said, “I don’t have anyone I can talk to about this, I can’t talk to my friends about this because they’re just going to make fun of me”.’