It truly is all about the size of the package — but not in the way that you might think.
It's time to take a stand regarding penis size and what it means to be a sexually desirable man. A large penis doesn't make a man a great kisser, fill him with sensuality and passion, make his partner feel loved or safe — nor does it guarantee that he is a remotely competent lover. It's often ignored that the largest sex organ we have is our brain. The brain, which it happens, is also bombarded with distorted messaging on what makes a man, a man.
And it starts at an increasingly early age. The way men and their bodies are portrayed in mass media deeply affects their lives. There are over a million men in the U.S. with serious eating disorders. Perhaps more revealing is a figure from a recent UK study, which found 1 out of 3 men would sacrifice a year of their life in exchange for their ideal body.
I began speaking to men in my circle, as well as to Lucky Bloke customers, about these findings, and then took it to Facebook.
My questions: "Gentlemen, how many years would you be willing to sacrifice, in exchange for your ideal body? How many for your ideal penis?"
The responses given indicated that men's levels of success, attractiveness, or intelligence seemed disconnected from whether they were comfortable about their bodies. One in particular was very clear. "My ideal penis? I think you mean women's idea of an ideal penis!" And it just so happens he was willing to sacrifice more years than any other participant.
And that's saying a lot. Most who responded stated they'd sacrifice at least 10 years of their life in exchange for their ideal body — especially if it included their ideal penis.
Wow. Am I alone in preferring the men in my life live an extra 10 years, just the way they are?
Seeking further insight regarding body perceptions, I turned to Elle Chase, aka Lady Cheeky, one of my favorite Sex Educators (and moderator for upcoming: Does This Panel Make Me Look Fat?: Body Image and Sexuality at CatalystCon in Los Angeles).
Elle summed it up: "There's a pervasive meme out there that men's bodies need to be hairless or they need to be a certain height and, of course, the old wives' tale about having to have a big penis to properly satisfy a partner. In reality, it's our diversity that makes us who we are and comparing ourselves to what we see in magazines is futile. The fact is, we all have to stop beating ourselves up because we don't meet a perceived ideal. Especially, when it comes to penis size... I've always said "it's not the size of the pencil, it's how you sign your name."
Are Elle and I the only women who feel this way? Not according to a comprehensive study which showed that 85 percent of women are satisfied with their partner's penis. However, it also revealed that only 55 percent of men find their own size satisfactory. Women appreciating their lovers is great news. The bad news is men's sense of self-worth is sabotaged long before they couple up.
So what exactly are the messages society is sending young boys and men? Mass media narratives insinuate that a man is only popular with the ladies if he's well hung and has the stamina of a superhero. These days, many of the condom conversations I have touch on the topic of penis size. That's how I know that even smart, sexually active people have yet to learn that condoms come in three basic sizes. This critical information is rarely a component of Sex Ed. Even more elusive are conversations about what a condom should feel like when it's on. Not to mention pleasure as a barometer for condom fit. I mean, who would want to have to acknowledge pleasure as part of Sex-Ed? Outrageous!
The facts are simple: when a condom is too small for a man he feels discomfort, loses his erection, and at worst, the condom breaks. (Clearly, he'd benefit from a larger condom.) If, on the other hand, a condom is too large, it slips and slides, leaks easily, and sooner or later falls off. A condom that is too big or too small leads the man wearing it to focus on his discomfort. The result: Both pleasure and safety are severely compromised, and typically for both partners.
Fun fact: Most free condoms distributed promulgate the myth that one size fits all.
However, it's estimated only 50 percent of men worldwide have an "average" size penis and require what is known as an "average" or standard condom. A whopping 35 percent of men, globally, require a more tailored or smaller condom, while a larger condom is required for 15 percent of men. Due to the media obsession with endowment, 85 percent of marketing attention is given to that final 15 percent of the population. As a direct result, a staggering 85 percent of men — the vast and silent majority, are marginalized. They're essentially being told they shouldn't exist.
Sadly, many condom manufacturers are complicit in this absurdly lopsided marketing. Trojan has created explosively popular branding with their Magnum franchise. Yet there is obviously a glaring discrepancy between Magnum's mass appeal and the fact that, for 85 percent of men, it simply isn't the right fit. Perhaps even worse is Trojan failing to offer any small-sized condom option. Many brands have followed suit, ignoring 35 percent of the population entirely. What kind of message is this sending to sexually active men? Obviously, when a man's self-image is deeply, even subconsciously, tied to the size of his penis societal influences, including marketplace messaging, can cause serious harm to his self-esteem.
And conversely, it comes as no surprise that men who are comfortable with their penises report feeling generally happier and more confident. Which brings me to my favorite response from that informal body-image survey:
"...Regarding the 'perfect body' — I wouldn't trade any years. I love my body. And, I'm super happy with my penis. I feel blessed there too. Now this is not to say I am by any means perfect in either department, but I do feel really lucky. Yes, keeping very healthy and taking care of myself is probably a big factor resulting in a strong body, but good genes also play a def [sic] part. There's also [my partner's] loving adoration. I think feeling good about myself and feeling very loved by my partner — knowing that I turn her on, and knowing how much she ignites the same desires in me, is also a big part."
I know I would want any man I love to feel this way. And, perhaps, that's where we begin. Considering the most relevant questions:
When you think of a good lover where does your mind go? What really turns you on?
More sex educator advice on YourTango:
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