No man is ever born with a sense of insecurity about his penis – ever. It’s something he’s taught.
Fortunately, once you understand this, you can ‘un-learn’ the toxic myth that size is king and finally be at peace with your penis. Not only is this psychologically healthy, but it also sets you free from a lifetime of put-downs, painful operations and expensive scams which never, ever work.
Best of all, it also makes you bulletproof in the face of size slurs which are part of everyday life for all men, regardless of how big they actually are.
It hasn’t always been this way. In ancient Europe, less was considered more – see Michelangelo’s Renaissance masterpiece David if you need a visual aid. Today, however, it’s a little different – and not just in art. Now, men are rated, denigrated and humiliated by their penises in every facet of life.
For most of us, this is a universal experience. One which every bloke, every boy, will have a memory of, neatly tucked away and rarely – if ever – referenced. But it sits there, smirking. I’ve seen it myself. In some of the most prolific media operations in the country, I’ve watched smart, clever colleagues in positions of power sell out to stiletto sexism with a hooked little finger at the most inappropriate time, even though any man would be fired if he claimed a female CEO was rude because of her roomy vulva.
Thankfully, the unspoken truth is that every penis is perfectly fine exactly as it is – including yours. It does not need enlarging, pumping, piercing, widening, trimming, straightening or stiffening. You wouldn’t be loved more, better in bed or more popular if it were the size of a fire hose. You’d simply walk funny. Besides, cock-mocking isn’t really about rating length or girth anyway but about the power that can be gained simply by doing it.
Thankfully, your masculinity, your dignity, your credibility is bigger than that. Chances are, so is your penis. And, even if you think it isn’t, your best sexual organ is your brain. Read that all again.
In a world where belittling men’s bodies is often confused with women’s sexual literacy, this is all important to remember. Despite their life-creating brilliance, our dicks face regular ridicule in everything from song lyrics to government road safety campaigns. (No, really – thank Australia for that one. In 2007 Sydney’s Road and Traffic Authority ran the ‘Pinkie’ ad ‘Speeding: No One Thinks Big of You’, which showed women equating reckless driving with smaller genitalia.)
Here in Britain, we have Lily Allen doing it for them. She spends hours slagging off MailOnline for ‘judging’ women’s bodies and putting pressure on the sisterhood to be a certain size and shape (even though it’s mostly female journalists who write these articles, and female readers, including her, who consume them) but doesn’t extend the same courtesy to lads.
The first was ‘Not Big’, in which she muses about her classy size demands by singing: ‘You’re not big, you’re not clever, No, you ain’t ya big brother. I’m gonna tell the world you’re rubbish in bed. And that you’re small in the game.’ Lovely. Then, Goldicock’s second family-friendly offering is the ironically titled ‘It’s Not Fair’, which sees her deride a boyfriend for not giving her an orgasm when, where and how she demands it. The lyrics go: ‘Oh, he treats me with respect, he says he loves me all the time.… There’s just one thing that’s getting in the way. When we go up to bed, you’re just no good.… It’s not fair and I think you’re really mean.’
Now, I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty of Lily’s sex life – in fact, I can’t think of anything worse – but, wow: isn’t this the pot calling the kettle black? Here we have a prime example of a woman who says making people feel bad about their bodies is cruel and harmful, sexist even, yet she does exactly that.
So when I call her out about this on Twitter it instantly hit a nerve. She responds within seconds, arguing the songs are about ‘specific men, not all men’, so she’s ‘not a hypocrite’. I can only imagine how comforting that is for her ex-boyfriends, not to mention her son. But let’s turn the tables. What would happen if a singer like Ed Sheeran or Paolo Nutini released a track about the equivalent – a woman who needed to do more Kegel exercises at the bus stop? Or an ex who was dumped because it was like throwing a sausage down Oxford Street?
We all enjoy a bit of good-natured, self-deprecating humour – after all, none of us are perfect and the human form exerts a fascination with all its quirks – but it wouldn’t get airplay and it certainly wouldn’t be considered funny. Christ, it wouldn’t even get released.
So what’s the difference?
Well, while dick-dissing is portrayed as good fun for girls, the reality is considerably darker because, actually, Ms Allen is spot on. All this negativity does coalesce in people’s minds and, if they’re not thick-skinned enough to handle it, it damages them. It sparks a chain reaction. Boys start worrying about their dicks, then start acting like dicks. They strap on ‘elongating’ devices which promise to stretch them if they wear it for ten hours, every day, at the bargain price of £1,000. Or they try the Middle Eastern technique ‘jelqing’, which can only be described as trying to stretch a jumper after you’ve put it in the dryer.
Not only does this make me wince with sympathy pains, but I dread to think what happens when these guys invest all their time and see absolutely no difference at the end of it. One thing’s for sure, they wouldn’t get any sympathy from the outside world. We are fair game.
When Jude Law was photographed naked on holiday at his private villa, the media couldn’t resist printing the shots. In doing so, they implied that every redeeming quality about him – his talent, his good looks, his success, his intelligence, his skills as a father – had been deleted in one go because in his trousers was an utterly NORMAL penis. In an article entitled ‘Nude Jude’s Not A Huge Issue,’ the New York Post wrote: ‘In snapshots that recall George Costanza’s infamous ‘shrinkage’ episode on Seinfeld, the love-rat actor’s meager manhood is on full display as he changes into a swimsuit outside his mother Maggie Law’s house in Vaudelnay, France.’ Meanwhile, Gawker (check out the hypocrisy of their strict, moral code in the Sex chapter) chimed in: ‘Photos of Jude Law’s peniwinkle [time in France] have been circulating. It’d be cruel for us not to share them with you. So, make sure your boss isn’t looking, click here to see the itty bitty fella, roll eyes, take [a] shower [and] get circumcision.’
Then again, even Napoleon’s penis wasn’t sacred. After it was removed during his autopsy, it went on display in a New York exhibition in 1927 whereby Time magazine claimed it resembled a ‘shrivelled eel’. Half a century later and the staff at Elle, who collectively couldn’t achieve half of what he did – despite their advantage of all the amazing things men have created, are still banging on about his alleged ‘tiny sceptre’.
Yet when Kate Middleton was papped sunbathing topless, everyone was furious. Violation! Sexist! Rude!
I wanted to weep. Not because of Jude’s genitals, which were perfectly fine, but because our private parts are forever ridiculed in a way women’s aren’t. OK, breasts adorn Page 3, but at least they’re celebrated. They’re not put up to be laughed at. Ours are. Even multinational companies like Pepsi, who sell their soft drinks to children and teenagers, for God’s sake, use slogans such as ‘Size Does Matter’, which isn’t just offensive but really shit copywriting. I can do better on the back of a fag packet. Drunk.
Most people justify this stuff by saying it only affects arrogant men who somehow deserve it. On the contrary, I’d bet a small fortune that the blokes taking the biggest blows are those battling a depressing size neurosis.
Once, a seventeen-year-old boy emailed me via my website. He’d quit his rugby team, stopped going out and refused to date girls – all because he thought his penis wasn’t ‘good enough’. He also refused to use urinals, only ever cubicles, because the risk of being seen was too daunting. This boy (who actually had nothing to worry about – then again, none of us do) had been conditioned to hate his body from everything he’d seen and heard over the years. Yet the issue wasn’t his penis, it was his perspective.
Worryingly, it’s a view shared by millions of men everywhere. It hides in teenage bedrooms up and down the country, regularly reinforced by pop culture of every form and calibre. Even Sam Mendes’s recent production of King Lear at the National Theatre featured three, yes THREE, references to men’s ‘small’ dicks. Integral to the plot and tastefully done? I don’t think so.
Together, this all feeds a multi-million-pound juggernaut of fear, which invades every spam inbox on a daily basis with the promise of lotions, potions and Perspex pumps which do more harm than good. Worse of all, it becomes acceptable. The new normal.
When I first started writing at the Mail, I saw a man on This Morning discussing his decision to undergo a penis enlargement operation. A conversation which brought a tear to my eye (for all the right reasons). The nine-minute feature peaked when before-and-after photos flashed up on screen, no doubt to cackles of laughter in the production office and across the country.
And while the end result wasn’t awful, it wasn’t the difference in this man’s size that impressed me. Far from it. I was more amazed that this brave chap coined a phrase which totally nailed our obsession with size: penile dysmorphia. Borrowing terminology from body dysmorphia, which sees patients clinically preoccupied with non-existent physical faults in themselves, this bloke summed up an endemic – and encouraged – bloke problem with just two words.
It was this – not the gory footage of the operation – which brought a tear to my eye. See, he hadn’t undergone surgery for vanity or to outdo his mates in the changing room. Why would he? None of them really care. Nor had he done it to correct a medical problem which was blighting his life (one that wouldn’t have been taken seriously, even if he had). Instead, he was simply trying to undo years of taunts from women and the media which had left him psychologically scarred. The very messages that affect all males, from young boys and teenagers to war veterans.
So I track down his surgeon, Dr Roberto Viel, to get an idea of what motivates his patients – and if there’s a trend. ‘I started doing penoplastys in 1991 after a woman asked me if we’d operate on her boyfriend, who has getting very depressed about his size,’ he says from his Harley Street office, wearing Day-Glo scrubs as he sits under a portrait of himself and his twin brother, also a surgeon.
‘She’d heard about a doctor in America who was already doing the procedure and wondered if it was available here. We researched it and, after realising it was safe, trialled it here. That was twenty-three years ago.’
Now, he says, it’s their biggest seller amongst men. ‘Liposuction is common and so is gynocomastia [surgery to correct ‘man boobs’], but penis enlargement tops the lot. I do at least two or three cases per week. Even when the recession hit and people stopped spending money, the demand for every other procedure suffered a dip – except the penoplasty.’
Big business indeed. So, come on, how many of his patients are genuinely small? And by that I mean medically defined small.
‘It’s very, very rare to see a real micropenis, which affects less than one per cent of the male population,’ he assures me. ‘I’ve operated on a few, but the overwhelming majority of my patients have a penis which we consider average by textbook standards. Unfortunately, what we consider normal isn’t necessarily what everybody else thinks is normal, but it’s understandable: everything tells men they’re below average.
‘My patients don’t come to me wanting to be porn stars, they want their lives back. They’re refusing to take their sons to the swimming pool because they’ve focused all their anxieties and self-hate onto their penis. We consider it a psychosexual treatment. By changing a person physically we are changing them mentally. Yes, they end up with a larger penis, but ultimately they leave with a bigger sense of confidence. A better quality of life.’
That sounds very philanthropic (although the surgeries cost about £7,000 combined), but surely all this added size also improves sex, right? ‘Length isn’t important, nor girth,’ he says. ‘It all relative when combined with the size of the vagina. Increasing numbers of women are having surgeries to tighten the vaginal wall [commonly referred to as ‘designer vaginas’] because they consider themselves too big, especially after childbirth.’
Which brings me to my next point. Because if size does matter – as women often say it does – then surely it matters on them too. After all, friction is friction and their bits vary as much as ours. This reminds me of an episode from the US television show Curb Your Enthusiasm called ‘Big Vagina’, which flips the issue and offers a new gesture for men to adopt in response to women’s use of the ‘inch’ gesture with their thumb and forefinger.
In this sketch, the show’s protagonist, Larry David, meets a nurse, Lisa, who claims she stopped dating his best friend, Jeff, because he has a small penis. When Larry later confronts him about this, it transpires that it’s her who has the anatomical anomaly. I won’t ruin the punchline, but it’s better than ten years of therapy. Not least because the moral of the story is this: if she thinks you’re too small, chances are it’s because she’s too big. After all, men can put a master key in a door, but if the lock’s too big then it won’t open. And that’s not our fault.
A 2006 study by Barnhart, Izquierdo & Pretorius for the Kinsey Institute found the average vagina measures 62.7 mm, with a relatively large range (40.8–95 mm). The position of the cervix, marking the end of the vagina, can also vary at different points in a woman’s cycle, making them all shapes and sizes.
The difference between this and penis size variation? Young lads are forever told size matters, while girls are counselled over skinny models in magazines. Women scorn the fashion industry for putting pressure on them, but – while I sympathise – it’s these women who trash a guy because his body isn’t to their liking. Even though his body is his, not theirs.
Rarely is a penis respected for simply being the amazing, life-creating body part it actually is.
I was once at a friend’s 21st birthday party, which was festooned with pictures of him at various stages in his life, including some as a child in the bath. Even here, while celebrating his passage into adulthood, there were women whom I overheard say: ‘Hmm, he hasn’t changed much … if you know what I mean.’
Another time, during a man’s speech about prostate cancer at a major health seminar, two women in the row ahead of me leaned in to each other and made an inch gesture between their thumb and forefinger. Both times, my heart sank – not for me or my body. I’m happy. But for the death of basic manners.
So let me take this opportunity to make a point: the very inference that small penises are bad puts all penises on a spectrum of judgement, which is just BLOODY RUDE. Small does not equate to bad. On top of all this, the sense of female entitlement is staggering because it assumes all penises are primarily there for their pleasure – when, actually, they have a whole gamut of functions for their owners before women even enter the room.
More importantly, the entire size debate is … well, bollocks. Biology proves it. If male size did matter, it would affect our ability to urinate, father children and get an erection from the moment we reached puberty. Which it doesn’t. Even the Kama Sutra explains that there are three sizes of penis and three sizes of vagina, the perfect combination of which depends on personal preference.
Instead, small is a shame we’re taught about, then taunted with. Advertisers use it as a foundation on which to sell their ‘remedy’ products, whereas women broker it as an insecurity only they have the power to relieve us of. Influential German psychoanalyst Karl Abraham, workmate of Sigmund Freud, suggested this was a vindictive form of penis envy – and, who knows, he might just be right. After all, why else would people – well, let’s be honest here: women – be so vile about something so amazing? If he’s wrong, then said women are just sexist.
Either way, it doesn’t tickle. So trust me when I say that making a mental leap into healthy thinking is the cheapest, safest and most satisfying solution there is.
I once knew a guy at university who thought buying herbal growth pills from Japan would cause him to wake up with a penis like porn actor Jeff Stryker, solving all his problems. It didn’t. It just cost him £45 plus import fees, one awkward trip to the Post Office and, later, embarrassing diarrhoea. He’d spend hours devising ways to pimp his penis (because of a throwaway comment an ex had made when he was fifteen), which essentially meant trawling websites for a whole manner of gadgets and tricks, including shaving his pubic hair off to give the smoke-and-mirrors effect of an extra inch.
The rule of thumb was: don’t ever open his post.
Thankfully, he eventually met somebody on a night out and, from that moment on, changed. Turns out the sex was mutually their best ever and, naturally, his penis was an integral part of that. They’re now married with kids – and he’s never doubted his dick since. Even though it’s exactly the same as it was before.
He got off lightly, though. In recent years I’ve spoken with countless urologists who’ve seen horrifying home enlargement jobs that would cause even the toughest man to faint. There was one who used chip fat in an old glue gun to give himself bigger girth (it didn’t work), another who tried to release his own suspensory ligament with a pair of kitchen scissors (don’t even think about it – it didn’t work) and the man who, quite literally, used Poly Filla to fill out his phallus (seriously, don’t do it – it didn’t work. And I think he died).
Instead, we should learn from these men. They weren’t home alone looking for something to do because the football season hadn’t started; they were searching for solutions to their anxieties, which had completely spun out of control. OK, the above cases are extreme ones, but men everywhere are wasting hours, days, weeks and months worrying about something they can’t do much about anyway. Forget worrying if your penis is short; LIFE is short.
Author and comedian Richard Herring wrote 2003’s Talking Cock – the male equivalent to The Vagina Monologues. In it he noted that men’s paranoia about their size is so deeply ingrained (and encouraged) by society that we don’t question it:
‘Few of us are going to be prepared to rock the boat and look at the positive things that men do – to focus on all the men who are being good fathers, good lovers, good friends … for fear of appearing un-manly.… Rather than making the obvious mental leap and concluding that the male stereotype was wrong, I had decided there was something wrong with me.’
One easy, immediate and fun way to do this is by viewing porn with reality glasses. Not literally, of course, but by simply understanding that the actors in them are no more atypical than the pneumatic blondes they’re with.
‘I was always careful to point out the actual rarity of penises over eight inches,’ says publishing editor Dian Hanson, referring to her work on Taschen’s The Big Penis Book.
‘Seriously, I can’t tell you how many thousands of photographs I had to examine to find ones of that size.’
Interestingly, proportionate to body scale, man already has the biggest penis of all the primates – but does bigger always mean better? I enter the online world of Craigslist to find out.
In the personals section I find a man who’s advertising his eleven-inch penis to women with pride, which thus begins a very unusual email exchange. When he eventually agrees to speak with me, he admits that he frequently fails to get it completely up because a bigger dick requires so much more blood flow than normal. Even then, its heaviness means it often fails to stand at the optimum erect angle.
Still envious? Thought not.
In 2012 a man called Patrick Moote learned self-acceptance the hard way. He got down on one knee and proposed to his then-girlfriend at a UCLA basketball game in Los Angeles. Crushingly, before an audience of thousands, she said no – later telling Moote privately that it was because his penis wasn’t big enough for her. Gutted, as any man would be, he then became an overnight phenomenon when the clip of her rejection went viral, being watched more than 10 million times in four days.
Already on the world stage, penis in hand, he pragmatically decided to answer the size question in a documentary – or is it cockumentary? – called Unhung Hero. According to the film, which was endorsed by Fahrenheit 9/11 director Michael Moore, the US penis size industry is worth a whopping $5 billion. Gentlemen, that’s $5 BILLION WORTH OF SELF-LOATHING AND SHAME which could be spent on so many better things. Specifically, things that work. DO NOT GIVE IT ANY MORE.
One man who knows this all too well was British filmmaker Lawrence Barraclough. Armed with a penis which was 3.5 inches when erect, he spent years agonising over his size until he finally faced his issues in a BBC Three documentary called My Penis and I. Groundbreaking for British television, it rugby-tackled women’s fascism with size and translated it into something positive for the guys.
Once again, Barraclough’s issues weren’t innate or justified – they were simply acquired from a toxic narrative in the wider world. ‘My penis insecurities stemmed from being laughed at by everybody who came into contact with my dick,’ he told me. ‘Right from my first sexual experience.’
In a bid to be accepted, he considered everything from completely avoiding sexual relationships to surgery, which either sees fat transferred from love handles and pumped into the shaft or else erection ligaments slashed so it hangs lower when flaccid (although only when flaccid – in fact, this tactic can give men ‘dive-bomber dicks’ that hang down, even when erect).
‘It stopped being an option for me when I was told how little I’d gain and how potentially dangerous it could be,’ he added.
‘I tried a penis pump a few times, but I just found the whole thing a little too dispiriting. Ultimately, what set me free from my size concerns was being open and talking about them. When the film aired I thought people would see my penis and laugh at me all over again, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Since making My Penis and I, not one person has said anything derogatory about my cock. Instead, they congratulate me on sharing such a personal story so publicly. I’m also a father now, which my penis had a small part in, so I couldn’t possibly be anything other than happy with it. My penis made that happen. It’s pretty amazing.’
So can we definitively say, once and for all, that size doesn’t matter? ‘Yes, absolutely,’ says leading psychosexual therapist Phillip Hodson.
‘We live in a bigness culture where most women know that many male insecurities are penis-focused, so belittling their endowment is a power-play. Fortunately, there’s no penis that is too small to give some pleasure – even if it’s just a ‘bud’ then it’s still as hot as the external part of a woman’s clitoris, but if you’ve already been affected by the size myth, use reason to eliminate absurd and mistaken thoughts. Straight men should know that the average length of the vagina is only six inches long, so what are they going to do with the other four inches they claim are so important?
‘Besides, when it comes to experience, does not possessing a ten-inch penis really stop you having the fuck of your life? Answers on a postcard, please.’
Author Susie Orbach once said that fat was a feminist issue. I suspect she’s right, but if she is, then penis size is an issue of the same scale for men. Now, thanks to the likes of Lawrence Barraclough, Larry David and Patrick Moote, millions of men might just stand an inch or two taller because they appreciate the politics in their penis.
So, the next time you’re about to sleep with somebody who looks at your perfect penis and asks, ‘Who’s that going to please?’ the answer should always be: ‘Me.’
Not only does this ensure you’re the custodian of your own dick dignity, but it proves you’ve got the balls to tackle sexism head on. Now that’s big.
This article is an exclusive extract from Peter Lloyd’s book, “Stand by Your Manhood.”