Penis Ennui

Psychologist Jed Diamond wants us all to celebrate our penises. (Though not necessarily in the same room.)

As I prepare to celebrate Father’s Day, I think about my own father who died ten years ago at the age of 90. I think about my five children and ten grandchildren. I think about my wife (and ex-wife). I think about all the fathers and children of the world, and the joy as well as the pain that is so much a part of life. Mostly, though, I think about my penis.

I would like to extend a warm and loving greeting to my penis. Well, not just my penis, but all men’s penises. I mean, where would we be without the penises of the world? If the first thought that pops into your mind is “Dude, I’m not gay,” or, if you’re tempted to make some sort of penis joke, you’re not alone. Penis jokes are easy and popular and almost always negative. Why do men name their penises? Because they don’t like the idea of having a stranger make 99% of their decisions for them.

God created Adam and informed him that he was blessed with both a brain and a penis. The brain was a good gift, allowing Adam to do many things. The penis was also a good gift, allowing the human race to continue. But here’s the problem: God only gave Adam enough blood supply to use one at a time.

Some years ago I remember reading Betty Dodson’s book, Sex for One: The Joy of Self-Loving, where she describes female masturbation in such a passionate and caring way. I wonder why we don’t think of our penises in a more positive light. We’ve all heard the terms used to describe male masturbation: Bashing the candle. Bleeding the weasel. Bopping the baloney. Burping the worm. Choking the chicken. Cranking the shank. Cuffing the carrot. Fisting your mister. Flogging the log. Jerkin’ the gherkin. Pounding your flounder. Pumping the python. Spanking the monkey. Whipping the willy. Yanking the crank.

As a therapist I’ve come to see that the way men treat themselves (generally not well) is also often the way we treat women, children, and the planet. Can we really have a loving relationship with the world if we don’t have a loving relationship with our penises? I suspect we would live in a more sane and joyful world if we treated our penises better.

On this Father’s Day, I want to appreciate my penis for all the pleasure it has brought me—and, hopefully, those who have come to know it. I want to appreciate my penis for being able to pee. I remember getting a prostate infection after having a biopsy, not being able to pee, and having to have a catheter inserted. I’ll never take peeing for granted again.

I want to appreciate my penis for being a good friend and companion for sixty-six years. I miss the sexual vigor it once had but feel blessed that it still works pretty damn well.

On this Father’s Day, if you are the proud owner of a penis, be nice to him. If you are the partner of a man who is the proud owner of a penis, be nice to him, too. Maybe we can think of some new names for our interactions with our penises. How about Loving the Lilly or Petting the Pony? After seeing the Vagina Monologues, I thought it would be a good idea if we could hear some positive stories from the penis world. Perhaps we could call them Cock Tales? So, friends, what do you think? Shall we celebrate our penises? What nice things do you have to say about the organ down under?

About Jed Diamond Ph.D

Jed Diamond, Ph.D., is the Founder and Director of the MenAlive, a health program that helps men live long and well. Though focused on men’s health, MenAlive is also for women who care about the health of the men in their lives. Jed is the author of 11 books including his latest: Stress Relief for Men: How to Use the Revolutionary Tools of Energy Healing to Live Well. Since its inception in 1992, Jed has been on the Board of Advisors of the Men’s Health Network. He is also a member of the International Society for the Study of the Aging Male and serves as a member of the International Scientific Board of the World Congress on Gender and Men’s Health. His homepage is


  1. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Fantastic essay, Jed!!

  2. It’s not just men and it’s not just your penis, as a society we need a much healthier approach to the human body. In my estimation there is no such things as a “mind body connection” because separation is an illusion. Body shame is a huge 3rd Century hangover. You are 100% right that if we can have a positive association with our own bodies we can have positive relationships with our sig other or the planet.

    Word to the wise, for a man to be a great lover he can do better focusing his energy on his heart than on his penis. Quid pro quo you got yours now I get mine is not love making. That’s a business transaction. Think give and receive, not give and take. Love to see this discussion taking place. Fantastic that we are exploring these themes.

  3. for those who eschew brevity: Turning on the Faucet to Just the Right Temperature.

    (also: “Cock Tales” is brilliant)

  4. Embracing the Elephant Tusk
    Caressing the Love Cannon
    Fondling the Flagpole

  5. Delightful essay, Jed. Ah, the eternal questions that may never be answered, but are always good to ask. I’m sure the joking is everyone’s way of dealing with “that thing” that is in part responsible for all you’ve outlined here. However, the penis is never boring, or full of “ennui” as the title suggests. So, is the headline suggesting “enough already?” I think it’s worthy that you keep the dialogue going.

  6. Good point Steve. Seeing men in all our beauty and accepting ourselves just the way we are is part of our healing journey. We may not use any of those terms of derision in referring to our penises, but we treat ourselves poorly in many ways. I think we all have a ways to go before we consistently see our beauty and value as good men, in all our many aspects.

  7. Steven Marr says:

    I don’t think that full frontal images of men should be considered pornographic. This brands men. As if the penis is literally a “smoking gun.” An image of a whole man should be considered natural and welcome rather than one of clandestine power. Masculine sexual power should be brought into the light rather than cast in the darkened shadows.

  8. You forgot “milking the snake.” It has a manly man ring to it because anyone who takes on the title of Herpetologist must be a brave soul. It’s my favorite and much more positive than bashing, bleeding, bopping, burping, choking, cranking, cuffing, fisting, flogging, jerking, pounding, spanking, whipping or yanking.

    To be honest, I’ve never used any of those garrulous phrases, even in the locker room…but, that’s just me. And, I might add, except for a girl that I knew in college who referred to her vagina as Suzie (only she and god knew why) and comedians, I’ve never heard any woman I’ve been with call out the name she gave her genitals in the heat of the moment. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember talking about pet names for genitals aside from the immature discussions about what Suzie likes and I’ve never named mine.

    I am a man and, therefore, I have a penis. I also have a heart, lungs, brain and stomach among other organs that sustain my life and well-being. I don’t really feel the need to name them. As long as they function properly, all is well and I celebrate the continued functioning of my body every time I wake up and curse the pre-dawn hour.

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