Average Size … for a Black Man: Myths About Size, Racism, and the Patriarchy

Myths about Black men’s prowess reinforce racist stereotypes about Black men.

“We the shaboinkin people. We got some shit hanging down on us … Ya’ll don’t believe it? White people the ones that made up the rumor. Ya know black people got some tremendous dicks … The Brother’s dick is too big, it fucks up his balance.” —Eddie Murphy, Delirious, 1983

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“I’m blessed. I’m big boneded. I’m heavy structured. I’m hung low. If I pull my shit out this whole room will get dark.” —Bernie Mac, Def Comedy Jam All Stars Vol 2, 1993

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Just Another Average (Black) Dick

I have a problem with my dick size. It´s not big and I want it to be. I guess it is about average size, and that´s just not good enough!

I´m also Black and the ´word´ is all Black men have a large phallus. Not sure where I was when they gave them out, I obviously skipped kindergarten that day.

At around age 12, I had a neighbor who was hung. He felt so highly about his member that he frequently had it on display. If he was not talking about it, he was challenging other kids to a dick size contest. It was not enough that he was the tallest and seemed to garner the most female attention; he had to be hung as well.

It was not just the neighborhood kids talking about the uniqueness of African American dick size. Comedian Eddie Murphy in his hit stand up Delirious and the late great entertainer Bernie Mac also discussed the apparent enormity of Black genitalia.

Meanwhile there are literally some days when I look down at my crotch and ask “is that really all you got”?

Size?

I can´t say exactly what my measurements are because I have never taken a ruler to my penis. The primary reason for this is because I hate bad news, and that’s the type of information that can ruin my day. Furthermore, at least this way I can honestly answer “I don’t know” when asked my size. Besides I have watched enough pornography, been in enough locker rooms and read enough literature on male penis size to know the difference between big and average. I am (at most) average. And that stinks.

I suppose I have no reason to complain. No sexual partner has ever said my dick size was a problem. Then again, would they actually tell me?

Just Right

Although no partner has ever informed me that I have a small penis, on two occasions I have been labeled “not big.” Upon first moving to Australia I was in a relationship with a very beautiful and caring, White Australian woman. A few months into our romance we chatted about her friends and their impressions of me. One of the first questions they asked her was, “Is it true what they say about Black men?”

The sad part is, I wanted her to be able to answer their question with “Yes, his dick is massive and magnificent.” I don’t know how she actually responded, but the look in her eyes appeared to say “You´re no porn star, but it´ll do.”

Two years later and I was dating a beautifully curvaceous, bubbly, Italian-Australian female. Early on her friends bluntly asked her: “Is his dick big?” She responded by saying that my penis was “just right.” JUST RIGHT? “Just right” is for room temperature. For my genitalia, I want BIG!

Undoubtedly, the interracial nature of the above unions played a role in the myth of the Black phallus being selected as a central topic of conversation. The question is: if the two women were Black, would the weight of this stereotype continue to bear down heavily upon me?

Long before I began dating, I was aware of the perception of that to be a Black man is to have a large penis. Therefore, it is likely that this insecurity would be present for me regardless of the ethnocultural background of my sexual partner.

I have tried penis exercises to no avail and even considered penis enlargement surgery, but I cannot reconcile the idea of sharp objects in that neighborhood. So I’m stuck with what I got.

Origin of the Big Black Dick

Digressing: I realize that systemically speaking my desire for a larger cock rests at the intersection of racism and patriarchal socialization. That is to say, I have internalized the racist notion that Black men have big dicks, which has its roots in European racism, used to justify slavery and racial oppression.

This particular brand of stereotyping has been called “sexual threat” or “sexual racism.” One author reports that fear of Black male sexuality in particular is said to be at the very heart of the subjugation of Black American men. Historically, Black men were described as sub-human, animalistic, and lust-driven. This reasoning concludes that Black men are a sexual threat to society and are prone to raping White women.

This idea is vividly depicted within the D.W. Griffith film “Birth of a Nation.” In the film, the central Black character, Gus, aggressively pursues a White female, who ultimately jumps to her death to avoid his advances. Gus is then tried and killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are heroically depicted in the film.

Accusations of Black male impropriety towards White women were used to justify lynching of Black men. In one of the more notorious real life lynchings, 14-year-old African American Emmett Till, was kidnapped and brutally murdered for reportedly flirting with a White female.

The porn industry plays upon sexual racism. Many of the adult movies with Black men in starring roles use racial themes in the title and often as the flick’s primary selling point. Titles such as “Big Black Dicks, Little White Chicks,” Black Cock Down,” and ‘There´s a Black Man in My Wife´s Ass,” are a microcosm of the porn industry´s perpetuation of Black male sexual stereotypes.

Larry G. Morton II, in his article entitled: MSM, the Streets, and Lockdown: Sexual Threat and Social Dominance in America, reported that present day stereotypes such as ‘once you go black you never go back’ are examples of attempts to stigmatize Black male sexuality.

Going Forward

So the idea of the salacious Black male and his monster cock has been used to perpetuate the objectification and brutality of African American men. However, how does one transcend messages of marginalization when they are transmitted through interpersonal, institutional and historical channels?

Education

For starters, more education is needed in order to re-socialize males starting from childhood. Looking back, much of my education came from my childhood peers, most of whom were as misinformed as me. Such information can include confronting present stereotypes and hyper masculine ideals about male sexuality as well as providing concrete research on male anatomy.

For example, I was recently informed by a colleague that, contrary to popular belief, human males are the best endowed of the hominids, proportionate to body size. Additionally, research by Desmond Morris reports that the average human penis size is four inches. As my colleague concluded, if men were not bombarded with a barrage of messages preaching their inadequacy, insecurities related to the male genitalia would be minimal.

Brain-gasm

Furthermore, sex therapists unanimously agree that the brain is the biggest sexual organ, not external genitalia. The more in tune we are to the sexual preferences of ourselves and our partners, the more enhanced the sexual experience. This type of information may be useful in rewriting the dominant masculine narrative.

Black male voices

Finally, there is very little literature written about Black American male sexuality in the absence of disease and oppression. One might conclude that the strict scholastic focus on Black American male sexual behavior pertaining inflexibly to disease and oppression itself constitutes a racist distortion of Black American Male sexuality.

I would argue that this type rigid focus on sexuality inadvertently deflects attention away from African American men’s individual attitudes about their sexuality. Our understanding of Black American male sexuality would benefit by according attention to both macro and micro level dynamics.

Examination of the sexual experiences, attitudes and beliefs of Black American men and how these individuals construct stories about their sexual experiences appears warranted and yet conspicuously absent from the literature.

Media

As for television, I am still waiting on a male equivalent to “Sex in the City”: a space for men to authentically talk about or experiences, hopes, dreams, and fears in reference to sex and sexuality. Discussing our insecurities in particular may be a path towards liberation from our societally imposed, hypermasculine prison. As noted author bell hooks reminds us, “You’re as healthy as your secrets.”

 

Read more on Body Image on The Good Life.

Image credit: cliff1066™/Flickr

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About Billy Johnson II

Billy Johnson II is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the writer of a weekly column, "Dr. Bill," on The Good Life. He has previously published on racism, and reconciling masculinity. "Dr. Bill" is dedicated to becoming a more compassionate, loving, and forgiving human being. In his spare time he is working on his dance moves! You can follow him on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Hi Billy,

    Thank you for this! As a white American who grew up in African-American community (school, social groups, athletics) I suffered greatly because of this myth. I assumed that my size was inferior and insufficient. I avoided sexual experiences and had so much anxiety that when I finally did “bite the bullet” and show myself to a woman, what I do have didn’t work properly. Painful stuff! Anyways… I appreciate your authentic sharing on this subject.

    Peace

    Lucas

    • Bill Johnson II says:

      Thanks for checking it out Lucas. I appreciate your openness and candor Lucas. It seems like you also have quite a story to tell. To be honest nearly everytime i write something that discloses my insecurities I initially feel exposed. However, reading through the comments and knowing that there are other people out there with similar struggles, and questions and are searching for understanding is very helpful. Ultimately such writings for me are liberating. Again, many thanks.

  2. Thank you for writing this. I dealt with this subject (somewhat humorously) in a series of blogs for Sex Positive St. Louis called “The Dick Chronicles.” http://sexstl.com/?p=2805

    • Bill Johnson II says:

      Thanks for taking a look at my post. I just read through some of your other stuff, good to see another sex positive, socially conscious writer dealing with difficult and important topics.

  3. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    I agree that psychology has nothing to do with penis size, nor should sexuality, if partners are skilled. It is empirically verifiable (including as cited by an article here,) that certain tropical folks have somewhat larger penis sizes on average, however. This includes both subtropical Africa and northern South America, however, so it’s not a justr a matter of race. Some theorists believe that there is greater possibility for sexual competition in tropical areas, so a larger penis is better for scooping out rivals’ semen. Also, it’s possible that a larger penis can feel better to some women regardless of male skill. This is contrary to the flat misinformation Masters & Johnson put out on this topic. Asian men have the smallest penises on average, and there’s plenty of data reflecting that they’re more monogamous and less sexually competitive on average. Saxon discusses a “sexual arms race” in Sex at Dusk, referring to larger penis and clitoris sizes. Some of the information she cites there seems to cointradict her notion of the rigid social control of extra-monagamous sex in more tribal societies.

  4. @ Billy – so how black are you? What is the genetic cut off for a big phallus? Have you also always assumed you could play basketball, dance & be unable to swim?

    • Bill Johnson II says:

      The ‘how black are you’ is a difficult question to answer, even when i think about it sociologically. I will say that i always enjoyed sports especially bball while growing up, though i’m not fully sure how much that was impacted by race vs environment. i will say the most ironic thing about me and swimming is that while living in a predominantly white suburb in texas i swam all the time (helped that swimming areas weren’t terribly far and the weather was consistently warm throughout the year. Meanwhile, while living in predominantly african american st. louis, my swimming skills diminished and so for me the stereotype was true. again, i think it’s a matter of numerous factors, though perhaps race should not be completely excluded.

      • Hah- well done Bill….
        Being 1/2 Irish, a tribe noted for tiny peckers, I’m now wondering if my Mother’s angry mutterings, when especially peeved with Dad, about Italy’s closeness to Africa and the Moors in Spain have anything to do with my hog leg.

  5. JaneMarch33 says:

    In my experience. Race, height, Ethnic background etc.. has little to do with penis size. I’ve experienced guys that are 5’8″ that are hung like horses and men that are 6’4″ that are below average. Although there obviously is some basis in reality for stereotypes. One really never knows unless one samples the goods. Ha!

    • Bill Johnson II says:

      haha, thanks for that jane. and i really appreciate your willingness to discuss your personal experiences as well. i guess a secondary question would be, how important is size regardless of ethnocultural background.

      • Bill
        It is not important.
        The man is important !

        Any should learn about women’s anatomy and then I will understand more.

        .

  6. Billy,
    Excellent! Thanks for writing about this; ignorance perpetuates misinformation because when we don’t know the truth, we tend to make it up and “fill in the blanks” with fiction. For example, the individual who believed that women could not become pregnant if they were actually raped, because their reproductive systems would “shut down.” Therefore, those women impregnated by rape were not “really” raped!
    The obsession with genital size objectifies people, who are then appraised only by body parts rather than perceived as a complete person. Such thinking also encourages racism, sexism, violence and abuse.

  7. Bill Johnson II says:

    well said steven. and thank you for your response. i believe more writers are needed to uncloack these fictions.

  8. Fabian Thomas says:

    Thank you for this honest, bold and eloquent gift!! We definitely need more spaces for the honest and unencumbered exploration of black male sexuality….and more articles like this one. Blessings to you and to my brother, fellow-traveller & ray of light Yolo Akili for sharing your article with me.

    • Fabian,

      I am truly humbled at your response to my article. I fully agree with you that more voices from Black men are needed in order to more completely unravel the myths as well as expose the diversities within our community. Many Blessings to you

  9. youll be too young to remember the classic ‘things that make you go humm’

    http://www.salon.com/2012/12/29/measure_of_my_manhood/
    I also had the added pressure that comes with being black. That all black men have huge penises is the one stereotype we don’t riot in the streets over. I couldn’t be responsible for bringing shame to the race by walking around with a sub-nine-inch penis. What would my ancestors think?

    • James,

      Thanks for sending me the link to your article, it was a wonderful read and your raw honesty is refreshing. Good to see more another brotha tackling this complex issue with candor. Let’s keep telling our ‘truths’ by revealing our stories.

      • oh it is not my article.
        i just found it interesting how a few days after your article, a similar piece appeared

  10. This brings to mind an aspect of porn that has increasingly made me queasy: so-called cuckold porn, in which a poorly endowed (often but not exclusively white ) man is forced to watch a better-endowed (often but not exclusively black) man “service” his wife (and then “clean up.”)

    I’m bisexual, and I find that this has become a new norm for bisexual porn. I am really sensitive to porn that involved humiliation of any kind, and this bothers me. part of the reason is that it seems like the black men are being turned into objects (“BBCs”) but also due to my own anxiety of being poorly endowed. My fear is that I’m using my disgust at black men being objectified to dismiss this porn when it might be more about my own white make anxieties.

    What do you think? Do black men feel empowered or used by this type of porn, or somewhere in between?

    • D,

      I really appreciate you reading and checking out the article, and I know EXACTLY the type of porn you’re referring too. Pornographic magazines often do something very similar where there is a Black male portrayed as a sexual barbarian while an often emasculated white male looks on. These depictions are particularly harmful because they dehumanize the black male while emasculating the white male. I would describe my personal struggle with these images in this way: I have a difficult time feeling empowered by an image that strictly illustrates animalistic lust, while at the same time there is a part of me that feels drawn to such images as well. I can also see how thes images create distance between white and black males by perpetuating the erroneous notion that there are essential differences between the races. I feel that the best antidote for these messages is for men to have open and honest dialogue with each other about our feelings about these messages and our sexuality. That way we can begin to humanize each other while normalizing our insecurities and confronting the distortions. What are your thoughts?

      • Well, as a bisexual male I try to find more “egalitarian” porn, in particular stuff that doesn’t focus on mere penetration.

        I look at the cuckold scenarios and I realize that it wouldn’t be a popular scenario if I people didnt respond to it. My guess is that it’s ment to appeal to white straight men who are uncomfortable with gay feelings. Although I could be wrong.

        What really bothers me is that I am probably dealing with my own racial fears, and that sucks.

  11. I’m glad that Australia was a “happy hunting ground” for you, and that the women you mentioned were appreciative even though they were vague on the specifics. Sometimes, vague is good. Think of what they *could* have said.

    The “wives tales” about men, and women, are just that.

    And, the brain is the second biggest organ, after the skin.

  12. I heard the big dick myth originated from white slave masters trying to convince white women that “black men’s dicks are too big for white women”.

    • Shauwndapooh says:

      Oh lord lol i think its how porn potrays black men and celebs like eddie murphy and bernie mac its became a norm for ppl to think like that

  13. This “issue” is only considered as such because of its perpetuation. Although the honesty of the author is appreciated, the trouble of accepting oneself as beautiful and perfect becomes even tougher when deciding to concern the superficial appearance of certain body parts.

    Unfortunately, the penis has somehow evolved into the definition of a “man.” Men have penises, women have vaginas. Therefore, if the penis represents the man, the (largely Western) ‘bigger the better’ adage must apply. Just like trucks, explosions, houses and hair from the 80’s. So begin the comparisons; including the belief that a big penis is “manly” or offers imaginary powers. Laughable at best.

    Forget “average”, “hung”, “what are your stats?”, and all that. The penis does not make the man.

    If watching porn makes it more of an “issue”, then stop watching that particular porn. Don’t allow your perceived imperfections to be further ingrained into your psyche. Don’t introduce that type of negative reinforcement into your head/space and stop that mini-cycle before it really hurts.

    Again, the label “not big” is as relative as relative gets. Penises come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Penises are suited to the individual it is attached to, and like the also beautiful snowflake, are completely unique. So to compare my penis to yours, or yours to a porn actors, or some variation of penis pairings- is all just a waste of valuable time and energy. Worry less about theirs and take care of your own.

    Thank goodness the author recognizes that there is a need to “re-socialize males starting from childhood”. Please though, let’s allow this to include the encouraging of self seeking and the search for individual answers. Everything in life is completely subjective to the individual and circumstances. Knowing this, we then cannot continue to believe all we are told to believe, nor teach the young the same rote facts over and over. Media and technology kill us, man. It stinks. Keeping people from their true potentials by offering constant distractions relating to false iniquities.

    “JUST RIGHT”

    This is a very nice compliment to receive. The physical measurements of women’s vaginal cavity (and capacity) are as different as men’s penis sizes. The right fit is the best fit -for both partners. Consider yourself lucky to have that opportunity to fit so right with someone as that does not come around all the time. Please also understand that the opinions of your partner’s friends, sexually oriented or not, need not affect you if you so choose.

    A couple of the author’s quotes really confound me though:
    “I have a problem with my dick size.” I believe almost of his troubles could be eliminated if he realized the first eight words he wrote actually solve everything and give the answers he seeks.

    “No sexual partner has ever said my dick size was a problem.” What is the problem then? The author manifested the issue if there never was a problem. Don’t broke what’s fixed.

    You are your own doctor.

  14. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    There’s also the truism that if the women is well-stimulated before intercourse, she becomes pretty congested inside, and an instrument of virtually any size is going to feel great.

    As a sociologist, I’ve done a conference presentation on “cuckold porn.” (I’ve never observed this acted out, but I’ve corresponded with cuckold couples.) In my presentation there were three types of men who seemed to participate:

    1. Orgiasts, including voyeurs. These guys just like to see more and more sex happening. The voyeur is a special case, usually with a somewhat exhibitionist wife (Janet Mason would be a well-known example.) I note that many if not most women, even in amature settings have augmented breasts.

    2. Masochists.

    3. Men who are actually bi or gay. Probably only a miniscule proportion of bi or gay men to be sure.

  15. I find this article quite interesting as I have only ever liked dating Black American men. I live in Australia and there are not many Black American men here unfortunately. It’s funny, because when ever I say, once you go black, you don’t go back, its not always in reference to his dick. i talk about the experience of how good they are as a person and how they love curves and the experience as a whole compared to a white guy. Especially with me being curvy and having big boobs and a big booty. I find that majority of black men have more of an appreciation for my body type than what white guys do. A lot of white guys in Australia expect their women to be skinny, show bone and not have an ounce of fat on them. They can be as ugly as a door handle, but still have preference over someone like myself who holds more weight, who has a pretty face and a down to earth personality. At the end of the day, If your man / partner (no matter race or colour) takes care of you not only physically but mentally and emotionally, that is all that counts. We are all different and connect with people in our own unique way so people who are stuck on stereotypical ignorance lead a shallow life for no growth or improvement to their future.

  16. Im a black woman with Jamaican descent and family from the virgin islands. I remember i wouldnt even consider dating outside of my race. That was until i discover the myth is jus that about all black or africans, jamaicans arent all BIG.I use to think all men from the motherland was hung, ive enounter a few Africans and this is certainly not true. So dont believe the hype from one race to another trust me ethinity has nothing to do withit. Anyone can be hung.

    • So what you’re telling me is… the reason you decided to date out of your race was simply because you found out not all blacks were hung? That’s the “crossing the line” for you? My, quite a superficial reason to not date outside your race don’t you think?

  17. Felicia says:

    A big dick is overrated. Some of us women out there just aren’t built to accommodate more than average. Frankly, if it starts to look like it’ll be more than six inches, I break out in a cold sweat. The most fun I ever had in bed was with a guy who was 5 inches on a good day. We could do it in any position we wanted and it never hurt and if I was ready to go 10 min later, so was he. I’ve had bigger and it wasn’t very fun. If he wasn’t really careful, it would hurt. Some of us are very happy with average men because most of us are average women.

  18. Tamil - Indian American says:

    My size is 6.25 inches – not sure whether I am average among Americans.

    Since my race Indian (India) which is independent of Whites, Blacks and Asians, I never had to compare with these three races.

    However, while chasing American women I enter competition with Blacks and Whites (Asians dick seems surely smaller than mine).

    I have read a lot of literature just like you (author/blogger) did, in my opinion Black dick is definitely bigger than White dick but by small difference not more than 0.5 inch.

    Average Asians and Indians can’t compete with Blacks and Whites to attract American girls physically.

    Only good care and big monthly income have been helping Asians and Indians to level the field with Blacks and Whites.

    • I dont normally answer these post but these days their everywhere,so here gose,im a 50 year old man,ive coach football for 27years,the first 14 in high school the last 13 in a small college.Ive seen hundreds of men going in&out of showers after games& practice & i can tell ya this not all black men have a 9 inch pipe hanging& not all white men are 5 inch,iveseen the big to average to small on all regardless of skin color,just like not all women have big boobs,you know why.Its call genetic,its stereotyping,same as saying all blackmen are thugs or all whitemen are rich all mexicans are thieves,its just not true .Had a young blackman when i coach high school,was a super track star,FAST, but would not play football ,all the coachs, the players, friends would talk to him but no,couldnt figure it out.He would play flag football in pe & love it.Then come to find out he had heard about how all blackmen were suppose to be super big but he was just average so he felt something was wrong with him,he went to post like this one & look at porn & it all gave him the wrong ideal,make a long story short after much talking he ended up playing his final 2 years in high school made all state his senior year went on to become a great high school coach & he found out the true on top of all that .Just wanted to add that in from what ive seen in my life ,rumor & myths can be harmful so let get the facts.Thanks for your time

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