Size myth raises big questions about penises

The e-mail inboxes of every male I know are constantly inundated with offers from various companies selling various products to “enhance size.” Creams, herbal supplements and devices _” the range of these products is rivaled only by weight-loss gimmicks. Obviously our society has some girth-related issues.

If advertising reacts to public demand, there are a lot of males in this country who are obsessed about the size of their penis.

It is common for a man to measure the length of his penis, usually as an act of pubescent curiosity. When the topic comes up in conversations (pun intended) most men can relate their length in inches off the top of their heads, a personal stat filed safely away in a mental rolodex along with social security number and shoe size.

With all this emphasis on size, every straight woman has uttered the words at some point in her life, “Oh sweetie, size doesn’t matter.”

She was lying.

Size matters. But not in the way men think.

The length of a woman’s vagina can range from three to seven inches long, according to sexualtiyandu, a Canada based newsletter “devoted to sexuality education and information.” The muscles inside the vagina are amazingly elastic, and can of course accommodate many more inches than it’s actual length. But the best selling dildo-vibrator in the United States is the size of a man’s finger. Size and shape are matters of personal preference.

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Most sexually active women have some sense of what size range they are comfortable with. In discussions about size, the higher the inch count gets, the more likely the woman is to wrinkle up her nose and say, “Ew, that’s just too big.” Especially once you start talking double-digits. But that’s not to say that well-endowed men don’t get loved up, ’cause we all know they do.

The conflict is one between ideal and reality _” a conflict every woman in the free world is well aware of, since she comes face to Britney-Spears-face with it every time she checks out at a grocery store. America’s compulsive preoccupation with conforming to an impossible physical ideal encourages thousands of insecure women to starve themselves, spend millions of dollars a year on ineffectual wrinkle cream and/or cram huge bags of liquid plastic into their chests.

In the commercial ideal, all women are 5 feet 9 inches tall, have blond hair, blue eyes and D-cup breasts; all men are 6 feet 4 inches tall, have broad shoulders, baby-smooth faces and dimples like Ewan McGregor _” who is not of more than average endowment by the way.

In reality, if a woman wants a particular man, she’s way more interested in his personality than his penis size.

I can’t help but wonder if America’s preoccupation with size acts as a means of avoiding real intimacy. It allows people who have problems connecting emotionally with others to blame it on the size of their penis, breasts, love handles or nose.

It would be easy for women to gloat that at last the insecurities of being male in our society are being publicly displayed in a way that begins to rival the celluloid-female standard. A hearty laugh and a “Welcome aboard boys!” might well be in order.

But insecurities like these have always been a part of socially-defined gender roles and reinforcing male insecurity is not going to make women feel better. Instead, we should celebrate the wide variety of shapes and sizes of all body types, male and female, to promote honest self-images and healthy sexuality.

It’s time to revamp that old saying; it’s not the size of the boat or the motion in the ocean. It’s who’s at the helm that counts.