Liskula Cohen asks an important question: Why do we think it’s okay to body shame men?
It’s hard to argue that we don’t derive a sadistic enjoyment of male sexual humiliation. Prison rape is treated in comedy as a punchline instead of an atrocity; lazy kids’ comedies rely on the trope of a man being injured in the groin as a go-to sight gag; and when studies reveal that men throughout the world suffer from a serious body image disorder, we poke fun at their vanity.
This was the thought that occurred to me as I – like virtually everyone else who regularly uses the Internet – was bombarded with articles about penis size. Some address serious subjects, like homophobic preconceptions about gay penis sizes; others liked to compare average lengths from every country in the world; one piece offered readers an ability to catch a man in the dastardly deed of lying about his penis size; and a pair of others tried to reassure men that, with rare exceptions, 96% of the male population has a penis between five and six inches in length… so no worries there!
While there are plenty of articles that shame women about their appearance, thankfully feminists have made some progress in identifying this as a problem. Meanwhile, I’ve known women who without shame have relentlessly ridiculed their male partners for their small penises (even though most women can orgasm entirely on their own – i.e., without a penis entirely), not realizing that this is every bit as much a form of emotional abuse as if a man tormented his girlfriend or wife about her weight.
The Internet seems to be catering to mindless teenagers. We seem to have lost sight of the simple fact that concerns about penis size are asinine and stupid. Even as we focus so much on body shaming women and how that is wrong, people don’t bat an eye at body shaming men.
It’s important to note that there are men with abnormally small penises who are suffering from a medical condition called micropenis. When this is the case, the problem isn’t simply that they aren’t “man enough” or can’t satisfy a woman; there are fundamental functional issues that impair their ability to lead normal lives. For these men, they should seek medical attention, because there are options out there that can help them.
People don’t think that men have the same body image issues that women do. I found out years after the fact that a man I knew very well had suffered from an eating disorder as a teenager. He would eat ice cream after every meal because, he told me, that it made it easier for him to vomit. This man was athletic, popular, and successful – yet growing up, the man we considered the “stud” was desperately insecure. So when the media criticizes women’s body image issues and then transitions to mocking men, it perpetuates the problem by switching the victim.
As a woman, size doesn’t matter. If you’re having intercourse with someone because you’re physically, intellectual, and emotionally attracted to them, the size of the penis isn’t going to make any difference in how you feel. Besides, the majority of woman can squeeze out a six pound baby, so in the grand scheme of things, she isn’t going to be terribly focused on the difference between a five-inch penis and a six-inch one. Any woman – or, for that matter, any man – who is worth having in a relationship isn’t going to care about the size, shape, or color of your various body parts.
As for other men… Well, just like women need to stop tearing each other down based on body image issues (and believe me, an article on that is coming soon), so too do men need to stop thinking it’s okay to mock one another over their perceived masculinity or lack thereof. If we truly want gender equality to become a reality, we need to protect men from body image abuse just as much as we do women.