Selection pressure
April 8, 2013 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Researchers have found that size does matter as it relates to overall proportions of the male body (PNAS link, PDF)
posted by Blazecock Pileon (233 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
(PNAS link, PDF)

The jokes, they write themselves!
posted by phunniemee at 2:51 PM on April 8, 2013 [66 favorites]


And in a way, it's eponysterical, too!
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:52 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


So the spammer was on to something?

Also, dammit, phunniemee! That was going to be my non-joke.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:52 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Woah. I hadn't noticed that the spammer's link was from today. I'd figured it was an old in-joke.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:58 PM on April 8, 2013


They forgot to measure the wallet size of the man in question, which can apparently compensate for everything else (no, not bitter).
posted by Old'n'Busted at 3:04 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


, the team found what Mautz calls "an odd kink in the middle."

It would appear that the researchers just decided to get all the jokes out of the way ahead of time.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:04 PM on April 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


No man is an island, and it turns out neither is his penis.

That's gotta be the leader in the clubhouse for best lede of 2013.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 3:04 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


And in a way, it's eponysterical, too!

One of the researchers is named Richard A. Peters.
DICK PETERS.
posted by Kabanos at 3:05 PM on April 8, 2013 [39 favorites]


Attractiveness increased quickly until flaccid penis length reached

Am I wrong to think this is kind of an oxymoron or something?
posted by Chuckles at 3:05 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Attractiveness increased quickly until flaccid penis length reached 7.6 centimeters (about 3 inches) and then began to slow down

It's my understanding that there isn't really much of a link between flaccid penis size and erect penis size (although maybe I'm wrong about that, as I can't remember where I heard it or if it was well-sourced.) So, is this even a good measure? I don't usually base my penis attractiveness rating off of a flaccid penis. By the time I'm passing penis judgement, in all likelihood it won't... be... um... just lying there anymore.
posted by WidgetAlley at 3:08 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


No man is an island, and it turns out neither is his penis.

More of a peninsula.
posted by Kabanos at 3:08 PM on April 8, 2013 [66 favorites]


Interesting that a uniform grey skin tone and complete hairlessness remain constant appeal factors however tall you are or how large your cock is, though.
posted by Abiezer at 3:09 PM on April 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


The penis doesn't exist in a vacuum

I don't know, mine sure did for a few years there.
posted by swift at 3:10 PM on April 8, 2013 [35 favorites]


Visit beautiful Penis Island!
posted by The Whelk at 3:14 PM on April 8, 2013


More of a peninsula.

Or "penisula" even.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:17 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


No man is an island, and it turns out neither is his penis.

It can be when you have an erection in the bath. It can also be a volcano.
posted by Splunge at 3:17 PM on April 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


Visit beautiful Penis Island!

I think you mean penisland.
posted by asnider at 3:17 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I hate the show a photo and tell me who you like study. Relies on the usually unstated assumption that what people say about these things translates into actual preference in the wild.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:18 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Visit beautiful Penis Island!

Is that like Whore Island for women, or....?
posted by WidgetAlley at 3:19 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or "penisula" even.

Is that the male version of dentata?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:20 PM on April 8, 2013


It's my understanding that there isn't really much of a link between flaccid penis size and erect penis size

Aka the Costanza principle. "I was in the pool! I was in the pool!"
posted by phaedon at 3:21 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


So you feel you were short-changed?
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:23 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Relies on the usually unstated assumption that what people say about these things translates into actual preference in the wild.

Wild-caught penis is prefered 3-to-1 among dentists who chew penis.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:24 PM on April 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


It's my understanding that there isn't really much of a link between flaccid penis size and erect penis size

They tend not to shrink.
posted by crayz at 3:32 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


The penis doesn't exist in a vacuum

Unfortunately there is a non-zero number of emergency room visits every year because of exactly this problem.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:34 PM on April 8, 2013 [34 favorites]


"It's my understanding that there isn't really much of a link between flaccid penis size and erect penis size (although maybe I'm wrong about that, as I can't remember where I heard it or if it was well-sourced.)"

Its actually significantly unclear, and a major question in the field. Penis size measurements are a non-intuitively tricky thing. It is clear that asking men to go into a bathroom with a ruler and instructions on how to measure an erect penis will end up with... inflated results. At the same time, you can ask a lot of horrific degrading things of graduate students, but the logical consequences of trying to manually measure erect penises pretty solidly crosses the line. So we're left with flaccid penis measurements.

Accurately and repeatably measuring a flaccid penis is a non-intuitively difficult thing to do, I guess like measuring a coastline, but somebody's junk. Its turns out that you can get a pretty close analogue to erect size by pulling on a flaccid penis, something you can ask graduate students to do; for those with access to the equipment you can just try it and get the idea. However, this leads to questions of how precisely hard you pull the penis, where exactly to grab the penis for pulling, what direction and exact angle you pull, and where precisely you measure from. The answers to these questions must obviously bow to the comfort of study participants but also unfortunately the judgement of those doing the pulling and measuring, which is sadly less than repeatable.

If you have bright ideas science would no doubt welcome them, though please take care in presenting them.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:36 PM on April 8, 2013 [30 favorites]


The penis doesn't exist in a vacuum

Unfortunately there is a non-zero number of emergency room visits every year because of exactly this problem.


Is it my fault that banks refuse to put emergency shut-off switches on the pneumatic tube systems?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:37 PM on April 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


Okay, so what is the correlation between minimum flaccid length and maximum erect length? What is the correlation between the two states for girth? This is important science that needs doing.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:38 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


On non-preview, I was hoping that Blasdelb would weigh in on this meaty topic.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:41 PM on April 8, 2013


However, this leads to questions of how precisely hard you pull the penis, where exactly to grab the penis for pulling, what direction and exact angle you pull

If you simply pull on it a bunch of times in various angles and directions the problem will likely solve itself. Depending on who is doing the pulling, I guess.

In any case the main take away from the linked article was that *shocker* taller men have advantages in many aspects of life.
posted by Justinian at 3:47 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is there any grower vs shower worked into these studies?
posted by jonmc at 3:50 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


turns out that you can get a pretty close analogue to erect size by pulling on a flaccid penis, something you can ask graduate students to do

I... I can?
posted by Greg Nog at 3:52 PM on April 8, 2013 [83 favorites]


Sure. You can ask. On a related note, how fast can you run?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:53 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


turns out that you can get a pretty close analogue to erect size by pulling on a flaccid penis, something you can ask graduate students to do

I... I can?


You havce to ask nicely, though.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:55 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Relies on the usually unstated assumption that what people say about these things translates into actual preference in the wild.

Some female friends of mine have expressed a strong preference for farm-raised penis.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:55 PM on April 8, 2013


Cage-free is better, too, if you have the option.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:56 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cage-free is better, too, if you have the option. (sorta NSFW)
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:59 PM on April 8, 2013


Wow, blasdelb, thanks for weighing in. This link was like a horrible trainwreck: I knew EXACTLY what was going to happen but simply could not look away. And then it led me down the rabbit hole to your profile, and then to some of your patented Blasdelb(tm) stories, and long story short I just clocked half an hour of overtime at work accidentally.
posted by WidgetAlley at 4:01 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


You havce to ask nicely, though.

Or at least dangle something enticing. Less TAing, more research money, good recommendations. Something.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:05 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or at least dangle something enticing

Isn't that the problem in the first place?
posted by zombieflanders at 4:23 PM on April 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Remember that this is all based on computer generated animation. In real life a certain amount of self confidence (though not arrogance), decent grooming, and a genuine interest in women as individual people rather than just as sex partners, can smooth over problems that derive from not being anatomically "ideal."
posted by Kevin Street at 4:23 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess like measuring a coastline, but somebody's junk.

Wouldn't it be a lot simpler for every American adult male[1] to claim that he's toting the state of Florida in his cargo pants? DONE.

[1]What about American men living in Florida, you say? Consider that a special case of applied topology.
posted by maudlin at 4:29 PM on April 8, 2013


P(ee)NAS link.

I'll show myself out.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:38 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess like measuring a coastline, but somebody's junk.

So... is there any correlation with penile fractal dimension?
posted by BungaDunga at 4:40 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's turtleknecks all the way down.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:41 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


People don't put your penises in turtlenecks, a fitting v-neck is fine.
posted by The Whelk at 4:43 PM on April 8, 2013


The penis doesn't exist in a vacuum

Unfortunately there is a non-zero number of emergency room visits every year because of exactly this problem.

Is it my fault that banks refuse to put emergency shut-off switches on the pneumatic tube systems?


Fucking banks. Something something "too big to fail" something.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:44 PM on April 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


Why, thank you!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:45 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hm. What if you pasted those little dots they use for CGI filming on it, and then had a guy "encourage" it himself while a camera tracked the dots and made a model? could also help with girth and allow for curvature. Aside from putting the dots on, no egregious junk handling (by the interns anyway) need take place. If the subject were in a room by himself with his stimulus of choice, he could hopefully get past shyness that might hamper his response. Heck he could bring his girl or boyfriend in to help as long as they didn't block the camera.

Science!
posted by emjaybee at 4:47 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


In real life a certain amount of self confidence (though not arrogance), decent grooming, and a genuine interest in women as individual people rather than just as sex partners, can smooth over problems that derive from not being anatomically "ideal."

As can the ability to lick your own eyebrows.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:53 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


a smaller penis was less of a detriment, to the taller, fitter figures than it was to shorter or potato-shaped ones.

the fuck? potato penis?
posted by nathancaswell at 5:06 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


You havce to ask nicely, though.

It's cool. They're just going to ask the undergrads, anyway.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:06 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh wait potato figure i fail
posted by nathancaswell at 5:08 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd be closer to perfect if it were not for being so preoccupied with being perfect. I've decided to work on this first before that other stuff.
posted by srboisvert at 5:18 PM on April 8, 2013


a smaller penis was less of a detriment, to the taller, fitter figures than it was to shorter or potato-shaped ones.

"Compensating for something?"

"Well, yeah."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:20 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Beauty is in the eye of the potato.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:21 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's nothing you can get a barrel and grow your own penises with beans with almost no effort.
posted by The Whelk at 5:26 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


A peeling.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:27 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Recently I entered the world of contact sports and found myself needing to purchase a jock and cup for protection of my penis and balls. I had not purchased this equipment previously. I found the sizing chart and purchased the appropriate size. I got home and it didn't fit. After inquiries I was able to determine that the manufacturer was using vanity sizing.
posted by humanfont at 5:30 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, you can also use Kinect Fusion so you don't have to touch anything.
posted by curuinor at 5:36 PM on April 8, 2013


jonmc: "Is there any grower vs shower worked into these studies?"

I don't show it unless it's grown. And then I say, "Oh! You're a big boy now!"

Then I walk sadly to the open front door and yell. "Call me?"
posted by Splunge at 5:36 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting that a uniform grey skin tone and complete hairlessness remain constant appeal factors however tall you are or how large your cock is, though.

Alien propaganda, they’re trying to brainwash us.

The penis doesn't exist in a vacuum

Is this like a Schrodinger’s Cat thing?
posted by bongo_x at 5:36 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Reading articles and comments about penis size is fascinating. Yeah. A lot to learn.

If you'll pardon me, I'm gonna pop by Ask MetaFilter and see about the best places to buy a Ferrari and an elephant gun. Later, I'm going to be belligerent and pick some fights with better looking men and shoot a small animal.

Ahem.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 5:37 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's Raining Florence Henderson: "Cage-free is better, too, if you have the option."

Now that depends upon what you're into.
posted by Splunge at 5:38 PM on April 8, 2013


I had a really strong urge to listen to Pump It Up as I was on my way home, so I got home and I did and then I started reading this thread and now I don't even know . . . . . .
posted by soundguy99 at 5:39 PM on April 8, 2013


nathancaswell: "oh wait potato figure i fail"

Be glad. Be very glad.
posted by Splunge at 5:41 PM on April 8, 2013


The real final word on penis size.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:42 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The real final word on penis size.

I doubt that (the "final" part, I mean).
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:01 PM on April 8, 2013


I was amused by the "A woman might like a larger penis, but that's no guarantee she's going to find one." Someone on that team is a sad panda.
posted by corb at 6:07 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Is this like a Schrodinger’s Cat thing?

The Heisenberg uncertainty boner: you can know it's location or its momentum, but not both.
posted by yoink at 6:07 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is it big enough to play with?

Is it fun enough to play with that all sides involved have a good time?

Then it's big enough.
posted by hippybear at 6:14 PM on April 8, 2013


Researchers said they decided to tackle the topic because past studies had offered conflicting answers, and may have been sullied by asking the women too directly.

"Since penis size is a sensitive subject, it's hard to determine whether females lied or 'self-deceived' in their responses,"


Classy.
posted by jessamyn at 6:14 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


the fuck? potato penis?

aaaaahhhhh hardcore taters
posted by palomar at 6:16 PM on April 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


oh wait potato figure i fail

"potato figure i fail" is the new "doctor livingstone i presume"
posted by Greg Nog at 6:18 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hate the show a photo and tell me who you like study. Relies on the usually unstated assumption that what people say about these things translates into actual preference in the wild.

I understand this, but I think it's nice for somebody somewhere (a scientist, even) to straightforwardly say that women actual have physical, sexual preferences in general-- that it's not just men who look at hip-to-waist ratios and go !, but that women also appreciate... "ratios." It's refreshing just to know that our visual, physical tastes are taken seriously for a second. Because if this were a study showing lots of naked, grey-skinned female figures with waspy waists/generous hips and the opposite, and men responded enthusiastically to the hourglass-shaped women, I would also contend that the results were maybe slightly exaggerated-- men are capable of looking at a real woman in context and choosing her for reasons other than her voluptuousness. But I think the traditional wisdom about "child-bearing hips" and such would prevail in the analysis.

But that's sort of the thing, that men's physical and visual tastes are taken so much more seriously as an important part of who they are than women's. And even when we discuss things like penis size, it's all about how a large or small penis feels (if we even get that far, usually "size doesn't matter" is the de facto "nice girl" response), and not how it looks, like women might as well close their eyes the whole time during sex for all the pitiful gratification they get from the male form.

Remember that this is all based on computer generated animation. In real life a certain amount of self confidence (though not arrogance), decent grooming, and a genuine interest in women as individual people rather than just as sex partners, can smooth over problems that derive from not being anatomically "ideal."

Again, I'm not going to disagree, and I'd like to think that the same is true of women-- that our confidence, interests, and respect can cover a multitude of physical sins. But I think the cultural belief is that men can much more easily paper over their physical deficiencies with confidence and a sense of humor and daring to respect people as women, as if we'll be too grateful to care what you look like. But, no, women still notice what's pleasing to them. We still get that little shock of "oh!" when we see a guy who just looks right. Penis included. (At least, some of us.)

And this isn't to say that that's the end all be all, or that women are shallow (or that men or shallow) or that this means anything about how we "should" behave-- I think that the "size doesn't matter" approach is much kinder and more accepting. But the "breast size doesn't matter" meme has much less currency, and I think it really favors men that women are supposed to be so kind and sensitive and accepting and non-visual while men, of course, have deeply ingrained biological preferences that can't be changed.

I understand the "female chauvinist pigs" charge about feminists who try to be as raunchy and vulgar as the worst of men, but that's not what I'm interested in-- I just think that acknowledging women's physical and visual preferences would be nice for a change, instead of taking the Victorian tack of pretending like we're the kinder, more wonderful sex, and of course we have no personal preferences! We live to flatter!

It's really disorienting to me sometimes to consider how deeply repressed and sanitized female sexual desire is in the mainstream. It only really finds an out in geek- or kink-related enclaves.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:28 PM on April 8, 2013 [58 favorites]


The real final word on penis size.

I doubt that (the "final" part, I mean).


The penultimate word, perhaps?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:28 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


daring to respect people as women

... women as people, obviously...
posted by stoneandstar at 6:46 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


stoneandstar: I take your point about recognizing female sexuality, but surely the problem of rubbish science about female attractiveness is not best answered by the pursuit and publication of rubbish science about male attractiveness.
posted by col_pogo at 6:48 PM on April 8, 2013


Hmmm. I'm being unfair. What's rubbish here is not necessarily the science, which I'm sure tells us something limited but interesting about the preferences of a certain (I'm guessing American and college-aged) set of women in situations where they have to judge attractiveness purely on body shape. What's rubbish is the ease with which so many people take these very limited findings and gleefully generalize about all of humanity in all situations.

Needless to say, this holds as much if not more for many of the studies out there about female attractiveness.
posted by col_pogo at 6:54 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also not mentioned is there really is such a thing as "too much" penis in length and/or girth, which depends on a woman's vaginal size (i.e. it'd make sense for smaller women to not find large penises attractive).

The researchers were maybe too obsessed with cocks to consider this.
posted by crayz at 6:54 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know if this study is rubbish science or not, but I don't really care about the science aspect as much as what the interpretation of the science says about our culture. What I care about is the fact that men are allowed to respond physically to female bodies, whereas women are not quite allowed to respond to male bodies, to the same degree. Men obviously like breasts and hips (and yeah, "science" proves all this), but women like... jawlines, and shoulders, and blah blah blah. And yes, we like those things, but we also like penises. We like looking at them, we like visually pleasing ones, we like the length and size of them. Heterosexual women like penises-- this should not be such a mystery, or an unspeakable thing, or a silly tittering Sex and the City style bit of coy joking.

Maybe there are more women who don't care than men, but I don't know. It would be nice if women were appreciated as visual, physical subjects more often.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:55 PM on April 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


col_pogo, I agre 100%, but I guess that's a little bit what I'm trying to say-- that of course none of these studies really matter as much as we're told they should when it comes to real mate selection in our society-- but we're much quicker to say "no no, this is all a bit silly" when it's about women's preferences than men. I just think women's preferences are seen as less important or more malleable. (And it's not that I think we should talk about women's preferences the way we talk about men's-- I think both should meet somewhere in the middle, perhaps.)

Just in terms of this study, I intuitively understood the results, as a college-aged, American woman-- I get that little uptick in glee when I see the "right" ratio, it's just appealing. I'm sure that's how a lot of men feel when they see the "right" female body shape, and I understand why it's so tempting to universalize this as some deeply important truth about sex. I think maybe too much emphasis is place on universality in men, and too little in women.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:59 PM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


What I care about is the fact that men are allowed to respond physically to female bodies, whereas women are not quite allowed to respond to male bodies, to the same degree.

Oh yes, I know what you mean. Like we don't even bother talking about other female animal's sexual pleasure in sex- I had honestly *no* idea that they liked it (only a vague suspicion) until I saw the TED talk about sexually stimulating sows to improve conception. And it was always "Women have boobs and men have achievements!" as ways to explain human sex. With stuff about how women were social and/or emotional, which really made no sense at all.

And male sizing was always explained in terms of competitive edge, not visual displays...

And now it's all internal clitoris structure and upsuck reflexes and glorius awareness my genitals matter. And obviously physical dimorphism must matter too somewhere- nobody blinks that there are ass men or boob men or men who like little breasts, so hour glasses are not the only way to do sexy woman.

But there must be a general "male" signal for the sake of heterosexuality from the female side... Otherwise if you convince me that the coat rack was high achieving (or whatever social markers I was allegedly supposed to want) I'd be trying to copulate with it.
posted by Phalene at 7:08 PM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Anyway, I guess another thing is I instinctively feel bad when I think about any shame or self-consciousness I might cause a man within hearing distance when I talk about my "innate" preference for this or that. I have my preferences-- do I want men with small penises to feel bad? Of course not. Would I date a man with a small penis? Yes. I guess I often wonder why more men don't feel a little like that when they start to talk about their love of large breasts or small waists-- or do they? Are men encouraged to think about ("unattractive?") women with as much empathy and humanity as vice versa? Do women take men's body shame and self-consciousness more seriously than vice versa?

I remember reading an article on Kate Upton once, and a man posted in the comments section that he didn't understand how every girl who went to high school with Upton didn't just shoot herself, because why bother when you're up against that kind of competition. I just don't understand that kind of callous disregard for women who don't live up (kill yourselves!), when I feel quite responsible for what I say about men's bodies in public. (It's not even just disregard, I guess, it's the deeply-believed idea that women don't matter for much beyond their bodies, I guess. Women don't have the luxury of believing this, even the worst ones, I think.)

This isn't to say I haven't heard women be rude or crude or cruel about men on a physical level. I'm still trying to sort out what exactly seems different-- maybe just that I'm used to men who say terrible things about women and I'm used to men who are kind and respectful of women, but for the most part even those (genuinely) kind and respectful men have their preferences, and of course as a woman I'm supposed to know that. Whereas kind and respectful women are supposed to genuinely not really care about anything, on a physical level-- even if they do, it's kind of inadmissible.

*and then there really are a few men who are kind and respectful and seem genuinely mind-above-matter when it comes to their preferences, but they're not as common as the female variety of this kind.
posted by stoneandstar at 7:23 PM on April 8, 2013 [30 favorites]


This is why I love Metafilter: we can joke when it matters — and be deep when it matters, too.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:43 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Using data from a large study of Italian men, the researchers created 343 computer-generated male figures

That's a lotta spaghetti and meat balls.
posted by humanfont at 7:46 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is why I love Metafilter: we can joke when it matters — and be deep when it matters, too.

sadly I cannot be deep
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:46 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


It was funny for me. I was with a young lady walking along 5th Ave in NYC. She said to me, and I remember it exactly to this day.

Susan says you have a big dick. But I've seen it. And I don't think it's so big.

Now at this time I had been with maybe two men. And they both had penises bigger than mine when soft. But when we got to it it always seemed to me that we were about the same size. So we went into the bathroom of the Waverly Theater (Rocky Horror was playing there long story elsewhere I was one of the security guys then )

And indeed I had a small flaccid penis. I told her that, that was all I had. That Susan was wrong. So I just waited. And the fact that I was in a Men's room at a theater sort of got me excited. Little Splunge grew like the Grinche's heart. That was when Thaya (her real name) realized that a man could be a grower and not a shower. Little Splunge became Big Splunge and I was ready to go.

And I said. Time for the show. Go away.

That was when I left her in the bathroom and went out to meet the rest of the crew. With a hardon.

Grower folks, it works!
posted by Splunge at 8:24 PM on April 8, 2013


The real final word on penis size.
I doubt that (the "final" part, I mean).

The penultimate word, perhaps?


Or perhaps peni-- ...naah.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:33 PM on April 8, 2013


penis
posted by nathancaswell at 8:38 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


The penis doesn't exist in a vacuum, though

Unless penis pumps are your bag, baby.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:50 PM on April 8, 2013


This explains why so many of the men on Game of Thrones are unattractive... because WINTER IS COMING.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:53 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Part of the reason I enjoy the shrinkage episode of Seinfeld so much is I was watching it with a female friend at the time and right after the initial joke, we had the "It SHRINKS?!" conversation they have with Elaine later in the episode. She was a rather brilliant shade of red when the conversation was over and I still think it's hilarious.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:59 PM on April 8, 2013


Is it my fault that banks refuse to put emergency shut-off switches on the pneumatic tube systems?

Please don't make a deposit. It gums up the tubes.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:15 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Stoneandstar, I really appreciate your contributions on this topic. On the flip side of what you are saying about the female gaze, I had a discussion/argument once with a female friend about how in some ways I felt like women owned the expression of sexuality; with all the attendant frustrations and objectification, granted. While as a man I was unsure about what constituted a provocative or sexual way of presenting myself in the world. She felt a little to strongly I think that the male gaze defined female sexuality so strongly that she had no control over it, but I'm curious what she'd say today.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:16 PM on April 8, 2013


Sorry, having trouble articulating myself today.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:17 PM on April 8, 2013


well, one thing is that men are allowed to have other attributes besides being attractive/hung/whatever that can make them Worthy Of Attention but Women always have to be good looking/sexually attractive first, as a base-line, before they can even be considered.
posted by The Whelk at 9:22 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I once knew a blazingly naive young lady who somehow made it to the age of 21 without the knowledge that penis change size and firmness. She figured men walked around at full mast all the time and she had rationalized the lack of visible erections when such should be visible by assuming it hinged downwards or something along one's leg. The revelation that penises were more like balloons than broom sticks was interesting to behold.
posted by Mitheral at 9:23 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


They're full of blood.

Dicks are weird.
posted by The Whelk at 9:33 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I understand, BrotherCaine, and I find it frustrating too on both counts. I wish that men could present themselves sexually (provocatively) to straight women in a way that wasn't stigmatized (feminized!) or all a GQ-three-piece-suits-at-the-poolside type thing (i.e. money/power/wealthy/luxury). I think men are able to seem provocatively dominating, at times-- and that is distinctly sexual, instead of "social"-- but it's still something that's purely about deflecting notice from the male body. Most of what I find provocative about the male body is branded as "homoerotic," which is fine, but it makes it supposedly unacceptable for straight men to embrace.

I remember last summer looking at the Pantone swimsuits in their colors of the year or whatever, and I found a tiny little pair of hipster-style swim bottoms for men that I thought were sexy. I told my boyfriend he should buy them (teasing) because they were hot and would show off his assets, and he intoned that he would probably get more male attention than female at the beach. Which is possibly true-- not due to indiscretion on the part of gay men-- but because women are not allowed/encouraged/disposed(???) to "check men out" like that. We're not supposed to want to see that much skin (even though that area of the body is obviously provocative). We're allowed to appreciate a man's ass in an artful portrait (kind of) or in a pair of jeans, but not in a swimsuit. Oh, and "testicles are gross," "penises are weird," &c. Women are supposed to watch other women in pornography, not watch men.

I want to check men (my boyfriend!) out, I like it, I wish my boyfriend felt comfortable wearing that swimsuit the way I feel comfortable wearing a bikini and cavorting on the beach. I wish men could be sexual and playful and it weren't feminized/stigmatized behavior. I don't know what to say. It's not totally about wanting to objectify men and make them into a meat market, it's more like I love my boyfriend and I love his body and bodies in general and I want to be playful and sexy with both our bodies, not just my own. I don't find swim trunks and board shorts all that tantalizing. And while I like feeling desired, I don't like feeling that my permanent social position is to be desired while someone else does the desiring. I wonder if we would benefit for more fluidity, there.

I think that's part of the conversation that's missing and might not ever make sense-- that it can be fun to be a woman, and use your body playfully and sexually and produce desire, but our culture insists that that kind of behavior is for women only and it would degrade men and become an indignity otherwise. He'd be a "sissy," or he's... European. But there are certain ways that men are sexual-- they have that cockiness or "swagger" that women identify as sexual, and that turns them on, and it may or may not be physical-- it may be the guy taking his shirt off during sports practice because he knows you're watching, or it may be the very intense, playful eye contact, or his assertiveness, &c.

I know not every woman is interested in the same things as me, sexually, or has the same visual palate, but men's bodies are beautiful, just as women's are, and they can be voluptuous and sexy and many good things. I wish men were more frequently able to (wanted to?) see themselves as objects of desire.

Then again, there's the study of the male gaze and the doublemindedness of the female subject, always seeing herself as object, &c. &c. and maybe no one should live that way, or maybe everyone should, I can't decide. Do men want to be desired that way? In dark moments I think women only want to be because we've been raised to (why would you want to be an object?), but I've heard men at times make fleeting comments to me to the effect that they've tried to envision themselves sexually only to be thwarted, or that they envy the eroticism of being a woman, or similar things that make me wonder why we so avoid eroticizing the male form (in the heteronormative mainstream).

And the truth is that women learn to think of themselves erotically, it's not inborn. Ask any woman (well, don't, but you know) what it was like to start seeing her sexuality through someone else's eyes, and start feeling comfortable wearing shorter skirts or low-cut tops. It's typically not an inborn tendency-- a lot of self-consciousness must be unlearned first. I get the feeling that many men are just psychologically where young women are, feeling disturbed and out-of-touch with their bodies as sexual objects, and really not wanting to push hard on that boundary (because there's very little precedent). It's complicated-- sometimes I think of the beginnings of my self-objectification as vaguely violating, so I'm not sure exactly what I want, here. Of course men resist that kind of violation. Of course? Even if it bears interesting fruit. But male masochism is not encouraged. And women are very discouraged from "seeing" men sexually in this way-- how many internet porn searches did I do where I assumed I was the subject, where I wanted to see men eroticized for women, men performing for women, &c, before I eventually gave up and learned to love the bomb?


When I think back to being a hormonal teenager, the things that confirmed my interest in men were things like seeing a brief glimpse of a guy's stomach when he was pulling off his sweatshirt, or looking at his very sexy kissable lips, or thinking about what he would look like masturbating, or on top of me, or under me, or in his underwear in the locker room &c. &c. I mean, some pretty unchaste, erotic stuff. Straight women do eroticize the male body, our culture doesn't.

Isn't it like the 5th Harry Potter movie, where that boy is chasing Hermione around and doing things like licking his lips at her and such to get her attention? It was odd to watch but I remember thinking, this is very unusual, you don't see a man trying to seduce a woman so sensually very often, in a way that emphasizes his own eroticism. Ha.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:10 PM on April 8, 2013 [25 favorites]


What's up with the saggy hooters on E.T.? Maybe women would've liked the potato man better if the cruel scientists didn't further handicap him with droopboob.
posted by dgaicun at 10:20 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I'm not an authority on "what women want," I just know what I want, and have my own memories of giving up on ever getting it, even psychically, even as a permissible fantasy. (Even as a "deviant" fantasy, in the sense that it's barely represented anywhere in existing erotica and pornography, and almost never acknowledged, and thus private to the point of losing touch.) I wonder how common that is for men-- not just to be embarrassed or ashamed about a fantasy, but to truly find that it's utterly invisible, not represented anywhere, and completely private.

But I don't want to speak for other women about what they find erotic. And I also think that the tendency I am discussing is specifically about a certain kind of enforced, dominant masculinity, and there are obviously alternatives which do even at times surface in our mainstream culture, so the situation's not quite so grim. It's just about dominant narratives. There will always be people who find a way around them and reach a certain point of peace about it that is maybe not possible for everyone.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:21 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I find it interesting that, until the moment of truth, a man's sexual partner probably doesn't have a good idea of what they'll discover. Which, for what is arguably a very important, er, part of the sexual experience for the man's partner, must be...interesting.
posted by maxwelton at 10:27 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most women don't care all that much about penis size.

There. I said it.

I don't believe women when they say they prefer big penises, but I do believe them when they say penis size isn't an issue.
posted by Birchpear at 11:30 PM on April 8, 2013


knok-knock
posted by wobh at 11:39 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wish men could be sexual and playful and it weren't feminized/stigmatized behavior.

What I've picked up growing up in this society is that it's not just feminized but viewed as a form of sexual harassment to some degree as well. It's rarely verbalized in my experience because the gender role enforcement by society as a whole and male-male gender policing over the feminization component make it a fairly taboo topic.
posted by MillMan at 12:01 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Big penises look better and are more physically satisfying. To this woman. Believe it or not.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:02 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's ridiculous not to believe a woman when she tells you what she prefers sexually. "Most women," who knows, but all my girlfriends have always preferred big penises for visual and physical reasons.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:03 AM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yes, I wonder that, too, stoneandstar. How to appreciate people without objectifying them.
posted by aniola at 12:07 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know at least one tiny woman who prefers small penises.
posted by aniola at 12:09 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It makes sense that some women would-- I used to actually because larger penises were painful for me (they're not anymore). And I'm sure there are other reasons. But I mean, some men like small breasts, that doesn't mean that the ones who like large breasts are lying.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:11 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


But I mean, I so definitely prefer what I prefer that it's bizarre for someone to tell me I'm, uh, wrong.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:16 AM on April 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


and I love his body and bodies in general and I want to be playful and sexy with both our bodies

I think this points at the bias of these sorts of studies pretty well, actually. The idea of sex for its own sake - or more broadly, that it might perform a role for humans as a social species outside of reproduction - isn't taken seriously or even thought of at all, as it doesn't fit with the narratives we've built for ourselves in this ultra-competitive, goal oriented society. The assumption is that sex is about competing to find a person with X traits, both genetic and social, so you can pass that along to the next generation who will then do the same. It's not a coincidence that primary and secondary sexual characteristics are almost always thought of and framed in terms of reproductive success and advantage.
posted by MillMan at 12:48 AM on April 9, 2013


Would I be too forward if I said I wanted this in my recent activity?
posted by iamkimiam at 2:05 AM on April 9, 2013


The assumption is that sex is about competing to find a person with X traits, both genetic and social, so you can pass that along to the next generation who will then do the same. It's not a coincidence that primary and secondary sexual characteristics are almost always thought of and framed in terms of reproductive success and advantage.

I had a vasectomy early in my twenties, and I've always viewed sex as important in its own sake and never about reproduction. At the same time though, I'm pretty sure that not all standards of attraction and beauty are individually chosen or inculcated by socialization. There are some absolutes across cultures that are essentially hardwired. For both sexes, symmetry of feature, and for men at least (and I assume maybe for same sex attracted women) waist to hip ratio. I know there are aspects of who I'm attracted to that I've made a conscious effort to tweak, but I think most of it is rooted deep in my hind brain just above the part that thinks like a lizard and it isn't going to budge easily.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:13 AM on April 9, 2013


Grower folks, it works!

This was some education I had to lay on my ex. We were having one of those giggly early-relationship titillating conversations at one point, and he made some comment about how small he looked when flaccid. And I just shrugged and said "eh, you're a grower, not a shower."

And he looked at me in sincere bafflement and asked, "what's that?" And then I explained to him that some guys do change size when they get erect, but some don't. And he stared at me in shock and said "they don't?" And then he lapsed into thought again, and started grinning and said, "so those guys at the gym...."

The poor guy had been assuming everyone was a grower, and had occasionally seen guys in the locker room who happened to be bigger when they were flaccid and gotten all intimidated. Learning that they didn't necessarily do so was a total revelation to him.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:08 AM on April 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't believe women when they say they prefer big penises, but I do believe them when they say penis size isn't an issue.

Why don't you believe them?

Women are pressured to say size doesn't matter. Severely pressured. Because if we have a definitive opinion about penis size, that means some fellows won't measure up, and god forbid that some men will actually be excluded from your sexual preferences based on their physicality! That stuff's okay for men and all, but women are the fairer sex! We're supposed to be kinder and gentler and think only about a guy's personality.

Thicker and longer penises are more pleasurable to most women I know, with the exception of those of outlier size. They hit more nerve endings and can be felt more.

But commenting on a guy's penis size is a thing that is Not Supposed to be Done. So women who want to be perceived as good say it doesn't matter, or it's all in how the guy uses it. This is generally false. Yes, a guy with a smaller penis who is better at sex is more effective than a guy with a larger penis who is bad at it. But when the guy with the larger penis catches up, he's going to outpace the first guy.
posted by corb at 5:00 AM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Someone needs to do an fMRI study on brain response to different sizes of penis, to settle this matter once and for all. Who has a really understanding IRB?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:20 AM on April 9, 2013


Stoneandstar, I think yaoi and related efforts are about women trying to construct a specifically female gaze. Some of it is very romance-oriented like TJ and Amal, some very much about dominance like Starfighter. By removing women almost entirely from the sexual picture, it allows men to play the parts of seduced lover and object of desire.
posted by emjaybee at 5:26 AM on April 9, 2013


You can me to the list of women that finds it refreshing to see a study that actually assumes that women have some physical preferences instead of being only attracted to wealth or power.

I share stoneandstar's frustration with the male swim trunks thing. Actually, my boyfriend is European, and was perfectly comfortable (and looks great!) in a pair of Speedo style swim bottoms. But it was definitely awkward when we went to the pool or beach because he would be literally the only person not in huge baggy trunks. I felt strangely conflicted -- like wow, this guy looks great, he's so hot and man, everyone must be looking at us. I did mention that to him, and kind of wish I hadn't in some ways. Eventually he went swimming with his dad, who had also moved to the US, but to an even more conservative city and came back with a pair of swim trunks, after his dad told him that that was the done thing in this country.

Who gets to be sexualized and who doesn't is really interesting. I'm fairly attractive, but I don't think my body is anything out of the ordinary in any way, yet I've always felt somewhat sexualized and known that at least a subset of guys find me really hot. Whereas my boyfriend has an incredibly hot body (he looks a lot like the rightmost picture in the article, except maybe somewhat thinner), but you would never know it in the loose-fitting jeans and t-shirts he wears all the time. I think I was the first person to ever call him hot and he was quite disbelieving at first. There just isn't any encouragement in our current society for women to size up men physically, except in the most joking way. Like you can giggle and joke with your friends in a bar about how the guy you just slept with was so well-hung, but you're not expected to actually put any importance on that, if you're a nice girl. And honestly the male body, penis and all, can be incredibly beautiful. Just think about those Greek statues -- stunning!
posted by peacheater at 5:43 AM on April 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I always hear pornstars say that they don't prefer monster cocks. Whatevs, this is a never ending argument.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 5:50 AM on April 9, 2013


I think the way to squre this circle is - okay, women may say that they prefer "thicker or longer" cocks, but don't forget that each woman's personal definition of "thicker" or "longer" may be different.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:56 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always hear pornstars say that they don't prefer monster cocks. Whatevs, this is a never ending argument.
Which is the same thing the study found too, as a matter of fact. Because attraction only increased up to a point and then dropped off. Given the average porn star penis size, "monster cocks" as defined by female porn stars probably fall somewhere past this point.
posted by peacheater at 6:10 AM on April 9, 2013


[Please don't tell other people what they're thinking, and please argue in good faith. Thank you.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:10 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just think about those Greek statues -- stunning!

The Ancient Greeks thought big penises were grotesque.
posted by Birchpear at 6:19 AM on April 9, 2013


Well, ancient Greek men may have. We don't have much insight into the feelings of Greek women, do we?
posted by peacheater at 6:21 AM on April 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think it's probably not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison to equate male preference for breast size to female preference for penis size, because the latter is (to an approximate degree) pretty visible through clothing, while the latter isn't until you've basically decided to get down to business. You can screen for breast size, if that's really important to you, in the same way that a hetero woman can screen for height or broad shoulders or general muscularity or other aspects of a man's physique that are visible with clothes on. (And in my experience women can, and do, express and discuss their preferences for height, shoulder size, etc. with at least the same casualness that men might discuss Beyonce vs. Taylor Swift ass.)

But you can't really screen for penis size, and that's why there's something of a social stigma on expressing a strong preference for it. By the time you're in a position to assess it, the other person has already put themselves in a rather vulnerable state, so a rejection at that point would be ... awkward.

If you want to find a female trait over which male preferences are discouraged, I'd suggest considering something that's completely hidden by clothes, genital-specific, and doesn't become an issue except in the context of sexual activity... e.g. something like protruding inner labia, or maybe even clitoris size. If you were to ask around I'm positive that you'd find that men do have preferences (even if they are not especially strong) in this regard, but if someone professed a really strong preference esp. in mixed company I suspect that they'd probably get called out for it: it's something that the other person can't change (at least not without surgery), can't be screened for when meeting someone, and by the time you learn what a potential partner looks like in that regard you have hopefully gone past the point of rejecting them. So creating anxiety over it by expressing a preference is, at least if you want to appear to be a nice person, generally discouraged.

Sometimes it's not about having versus not-having a preference, it's about deciding as a culture that some preferences are allowable and basically benign (on an individual level; they can still be poisonous at a societal level) or not worth trying to discourage, while other preferences are less okay to have because it's harder to screen for them without being a dick (sorry). While I think it's entirely likely that these cultural judgments skew in favor of men and male preference — in some circles it's deemed "OK" for men to express preferences over vaginal 'tightness', although I think this is becoming less-OK and would generate a callout in most polite company — there's a definite line between having preferences over physical characteristics that are visible on casual inspection and those that are only revealed during sexual activity.

As general rules for making the world a nicer and less anxiety-ridden place to live in go, I'm not sure that "expressing strong preferences over aspects of other people's genitals over which they have little control is kinda rude" is really that onerous, and taking people at face value when they say they don't care about it is probably a good idea.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:21 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Women are pressured to say size doesn't matter.

It depends on their social circle.
posted by Birchpear at 6:22 AM on April 9, 2013


Well, ancient Greek men may have. We don't have much insight into the feelings of Greek women, do we?

She said that she likes big penises and she used the Greek statues as an example. Ancient Greek statues have small or average penises. Just sayin'
posted by Birchpear at 6:28 AM on April 9, 2013


I don't know who this "she" is, but here's what I said:
And honestly the male body, penis and all, can be incredibly beautiful. Just think about those Greek statues -- stunning!
I agree that Greek statues have small penises. I'm not sure what that has to do with whether I like big penises or not. I think I can both find Greek statues stunning and like big penises and have these be contradictory in any way. Now can you please stop with the inane trolling comments?
posted by peacheater at 6:34 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Birchpear, what is your dog in this fight? You seem really into telling all the women that our experiences and preferences are invalid.
posted by corb at 6:42 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now can you please stop with the inane trolling comments?

My comments have been interpreted as trolling, which is why several of them have been deleted. According to the rules, if a moderator perceives you to be trolling than that is enough to warrant comment deletion. This is fair, and I will take it under consideration when posting in the future.

And I mistakenly thought you were someone else.

I have the right to not believe women who say they prefer big penises. I have given good reasons for this belief, but they were deleted. I am not protesting this action.
posted by Birchpear at 6:42 AM on April 9, 2013


Birchpear, what is your dog in this fight? You seem really into telling all the women that our experiences and preferences are invalid.

Not at all. I don't tell women anything. I tell women who say they prefer big penises that I think they are either lying or they are just repeating what they think is expected of them. They are not in touch with their true desires.
posted by Birchpear at 6:44 AM on April 9, 2013


...

You know, I'm thinking back to the amount of times I was asked about this. And the only time I can recall even attempting to suggest that I don't like larger penises was when I was dealing with an individual who was, shall we say, smaller than average and really insecure about it. It was the expected polite white lie. "No, no, you're great! Guys with big penises just aren't as skilled as you are!" I've never gone into "It just physically isn't good" territory, but I could see where women might.

Without implying anything about you specifically, Birchpear, I think it might be useful to keep this in mind when you are thinking that women who say they like large penises are lying about their true desires, based on the potential testimony of one or two women in the past.
posted by corb at 6:51 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Birchpear, you are always welcome to comment, but maybe take some time to get a feeling for this place. It may help avoid future misunderstandings. More info on site culture and guidelines in the FAQ. Everyone, further metacommentary goes not in this thread but in the contact form, or in MetaTalk if you must.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:52 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't tell women anything. I tell women who say they prefer big penises that I think they are either lying or they are just repeating what they think is expected of them. They are not in touch with their true desires.

Here's the thing, Birchpear - telling women that "I think you are lying when you say you prefer big penises" is telling women something. It's also a really shitty thing to do.

By the same token, though, corb - you've also been sort of implying that the women who say that size doesn't matter may also be lying. Some women do honestly think it doesn't matter (raises hand).

Honestly, if people want to encourage people to speak up and be honest about what they personally prefer, second-guessing what they say is not the way to do that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:53 AM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Fair enough goodnewsfortheinsane and EmpressCallipygos.

I'll bow out of this discussion now. :)
posted by Birchpear at 6:57 AM on April 9, 2013


By the same token, though, corb - you've also been sort of implying that the women who say that size doesn't matter may also be lying. Some women do honestly think it doesn't matter (raises hand)

Sorry! Totally not my intention. I know a lot of people who feel pressured to lie about this, so it's kind of a bugbear. But I am fascinated! Does it genuinely not matter at all, or do you mostly mean "within a certain range it's fine"?
posted by corb at 6:58 AM on April 9, 2013


Some of these comments from men who refuse to believe that women have opinions about penis size are very interesting to me. No, it doesn't feel good to be judged on your attractiveness by certain physical features, and women know this well.

Are men who say they like big breasts lying? Maybe some of them are. Some don't care, and some prefer smaller breasts. Some may feel pressure to say they like bigger breasts. But I think we all pretty much understand that a lot of men find large breasts attractive (which is not to say that's the only thing about a woman they find attractive)

Penis size is only one aspect of what a woman might find physically appelling about a man, as the study indicates. It's not the only factor, and a man can certainly be very attractive without a big penis (just like a women can be beautiful without big breasts). But to say that no woman has a preference or even thinks about penis size (birchpear) is just not accurate.
posted by bearette at 7:06 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I"d rather not go into specific detail about my individual preferences in public, corb, if you don't mind.

Although I will say that I tend to take a more gestalt whole-person approach anyway (meaning, that if a guy is awesome enough I find a way to work with whatever equipment he's got).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:17 AM on April 9, 2013


The points stoneandstar bring up are great.

It's interesting how guys will hear their women friends say things like "A man's personality is more attractive than how he looks" or derisive talk of "pretty boys" and somehow deduce that this means that physical attractiveness is COMPLETELY irrelevant to women, or that women who put ANY emphasis on how a guy looks is "shallow". You hear it all the time from "nice guys" who whine about what a great heart they have, but 'shallow bitches' want some 'alpha' guy (who by definition MUST be an abusive jerk).

Which is unfortunate for everyone, because that's not women's fault, that's the Patriarchy's fault: the one that convinced you that there's one type of "attractive" man, and you aren't it. The one that raised you to believe that women think as a monolithic block, like sexual congress is another linux build to hack, and that it's insane that women should protest having their attention and patience taxed while 'nice guys' spam word strings without context, like syntax is what's preventing them from getting root access. Hence why you have oblivious nerds who add a fedora to their "I still haven't gotten used to mom not buying my clothes for me" outfit and don't get why it not only doesn't give them +5 charisma, but often has the opposite effect.

Hell, we even had someone in here (presumably male) arguing that women are on some No True Cocksman delusion when they honestly prefer larger penises, in a thread discussing an article that scientifically proves this very point.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:27 AM on April 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


My workplace has an extremely large spread of genders and sexualities and pretty much everyone of all persuasions is usually talking about the latest cute guy/hot girl to be hired, usually in detail, so I'd say that pretty much everyone is in tune to the physical beAuty thing. (oddly, age seems to be only factor that truly desexualizes. Reach 40 and you become avuncular. Which is great in some ways and a drag in others)
posted by jonmc at 8:36 AM on April 9, 2013


I wonder why people have no trouble believing women like taller, thinner, fitter men, but think penis size is unimportant.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:03 AM on April 9, 2013


I think this is an individual versus group problem. It is hard to argue that these women, as a group, did indeed show a preference for larger penis size. Just as a similar study of men and breasts would probably show a similar result.

But every one of these women could also say that penis size doesn't matter to them and be telling the gods honest truth. One does not conflict with the other.

Preference and importance are not on the same axis.

In other words. In the abstract, I prefer a large, satisfying meal. But I no more want to be teased with a single appetizer than be expected to take so much food into my body that my stomach hurts and I get dizzy. But up to that point, it would be rude of me to complain.
posted by gjc at 9:23 AM on April 9, 2013


Utter--I very much doubt that the article "proves" anything. Just as all those nonsense studies about optimal hip to bust to waist ratio don't prove anything. Data points, nothing more, made to carry more weight than they can bear.

That said, I want to stress that I don't disagree at all with stoneandstar et al on how crummy it is that women are made to deny their sexual desire. I just doubt that this study is the best way to address that problem.
posted by col_pogo at 9:24 AM on April 9, 2013


I wonder why people have no trouble believing women like taller, thinner, fitter men, but think penis size is unimportant.

That's because when I make love, I am making love to a whole person, not just a penis. A guy could have the absolute Platonian Ideal dick, but if he is a dick himself I'm gonna tell him to fuck off.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:25 AM on April 9, 2013


I wonder why people have no trouble believing women like taller, thinner, fitter men, but think penis size is unimportant.

There is no widespread, strongly-reinforced social belief (among men, at least) that women in general believe penis size to be unimportant. Quite the reverse. The reason that women feel a social pressure to say that penis size is unimportant is precisely because of the widespread, strongly-reinforced social belief that it is important and that emphasizing that point to their male partners will play upon their insecurities in that area.

This is similar to the way that while we have strongly-reinforced shared norms about how women "ought" to look, we would automatically read a male character in a movie who told his female SO, for example, "jeez, you could stand to lose some weight!" as a complete jerk. The fact that men are strongly socially encouraged not to comment on their female partners' weight (and to say "I love you no matter what" etc.) is not evidence that weight is not considered to be an important factor in female attractiveness.
posted by yoink at 9:28 AM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm learning - slowly - that, as far as my own mental health is concerned, it's not the inches, but the insecurity. I could wake up tomorrow with God's own cock, and sure, it might make me feel a little better, but I'd still be a mostly friendless loser living at home, and I'd feel worse about that than about my body. I wouldn't have the social tools to, y'know, actually use that blessing. Conversely, I wouldn't worry about my penis if I could just stop feeling bad about myself and the world in general. A general improvement in my circumstances wouldn't hurt, either, feelings aside.

And I'd just like to give a thumbs up to the conversation among stoneandstar, Phalene, and the rest. It's been a good read.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:30 AM on April 9, 2013


That's because when I make love, I am making love to a whole person, not just a penis. A guy could have the absolute Platonian Ideal dick, but if he is a dick himself I'm gonna tell him to fuck off.

Yeah, but I would bet that a guy could also have Platonic Ideal abs or height or what have you and if he was a dick himself you would still tell him to fuck off. I don't think that's unique to penises.
posted by corb at 9:30 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whereas kind and respectful women are supposed to genuinely not really care about anything, on a physical level-- even if they do, it's kind of inadmissible.

You know, stoneandstar, I think the distinction you're drawing is real and important, but I also think you're somewhat overstating it--you sound a bit like you're describing the theoretical norms obtaining in a Victorian novel (and even there there are all kinds of transparently coded ways women could talk about men's attractiveness--and no one in fact thought it irrelevant to a woman's calculations about the desirability of a mate). I mean, there's a reason that John Hamm "works" comedically in his occasional role on 30Rock, say, and that you couldn't replace him with Wallace Shawn--fine actor though Wallace Shawn is. There's a reason, come to that, why relatively mainstream news outlets would write jokey, titillating articles about the wardrobe designers on Mad Men working extra hard to hide Hamm's enormous penis in a way that they would never have written about, say, wardrobe designers working on James Gandolfini's costumes in The Sopranos, had such an issue come up.
posted by yoink at 9:37 AM on April 9, 2013


it's not the inches, but the insecurity.

I have often wondered about this. Like women tend to know if they have a greater than average, average, or less than average rack. And they tend to know if they're optimizing it to look good or not. You can just ... tell. And whether this has to do with any of their insecurities is sort of an open question, like there are a lot of people who like/hate their bodies generally and that has very little to do with the actual objective truths about their bodies (and then there are people who hate flaws but that's a different discussion). And with men and penises, you can't tell as much. Like women can't tell as much just by looking and even men can't tell as much in the locker room (see: growers v showers) but they have vague notions, poorly informed by porn and statistics like this and other sort of not-quite-science reports.

I've always wondered if men who had above-average sized penises (or below average) were sort of aware of that and whether it became a self-esteem factor, the way having long eyelashes or a strong chin other things that are thought of as being "conventionally attractive" would do. Like, you know, all other things being equal if guys with larger (but not LPSG large) penises were like "Awww yeah!" or if it's just one of a huge number of things that makes up whether or not your satisfied with your looks/body or not.
posted by jessamyn at 9:40 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but I would bet that a guy could also have Platonic Ideal abs or height or what have you and if he was a dick himself you would still tell him to fuck off. I don't think that's unique to penises.

I never said it was. Penises just happen to be the topic at hand here. I'd be saying the same thing if the claim was that woman have a definitive preference for a particular kind of ab development.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:49 AM on April 9, 2013


they have vague notions, poorly informed by porn and statistics like this and other sort of not-quite-science reports.

This reminds me: One time, I was sitting in my college dining hall. A few tables away sat three or four bros. They were talking animatedly, but quietly. I couldn't hear anything they were saying. Suddenly, one of them burst out: "Six inches? Hell, I've got that!" And he stood up and walked out.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:54 AM on April 9, 2013


I mean, there's a reason that John Hamm "works"

shocking that this is the first time Jon Hamm's name has been invoked in a thread about monster dongs
posted by nathancaswell at 10:02 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've always wondered if men who had above-average sized penises (or below average) were sort of aware of that and whether it became a self-esteem factor, the way having long eyelashes or a strong chin other things that are thought of as being "conventionally attractive" would do. Like, you know, all other things being equal if guys with larger (but not LPSG large) penises were like "Awww yeah!" or if it's just one of a huge number of things that makes up whether or not your satisfied with your looks/body or not.

I'll bet an awful lot of adolescent boys go through the same ritual of reading some statistic somewhere about what constitutes a "normal" penis length and then getting out a ruler to see how they measure up. Then they go through the whole "but wait, is that from the top or the bottom? And where exactly is the "starting point" in either case?" drama. In these internet days I imagine the relevant stats are incredibly easy to find--and if you're a standard deviation above or below the mean I'd bet it's a hard fact to be completely indifferent to.

(Hard Facts, Soft Lies or Coming Up Short the latest John Thompson, Private Dick mystery from P. Ennis.)
posted by yoink at 10:09 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've always wondered if men who had above-average sized penises (or below average) were sort of aware of that and whether it became a self-esteem factor, the way having long eyelashes or a strong chin other things that are thought of as being "conventionally attractive" would do. Like, you know, all other things being equal if guys with larger (but not LPSG large) penises were like "Awww yeah!" or if it's just one of a huge number of things that makes up whether or not your satisfied with your looks/body or not.

We think about it. How we measure up is an important aspect of our physicality, and can lead to various levels of overconfidence and/or performance anxiety. I'm going to go out on a limb (so to speak) and guess that men who tend to be overconfident for whatever reason, probably overestimate their relative size, while men who are underconfident may tend to have more body issues, no matter what their actual bodies look like.

And men (in general) do know full well that women (in general) have preferences for certain ideal body types (although the specifics of the ideal will differ depending on individual taste), including every aspect of the body and even to what we do with that body. Perhaps that knowledge is a factor in why some men feel the need to be so controlling over women. In the wild, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a man who is overconfident and a man who is overcompensating, and I'm not sure it even makes a difference which is which unless you happen to be in the bedroom with him. But I guarantee, down deep, the man himself knows which camp he suits up in.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:13 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


this seems to be the place for this
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:16 AM on April 9, 2013


Wait...John Thompson? How on earth did I cock that up?
posted by yoink at 10:16 AM on April 9, 2013


Reach 40 and you become avuncular.

Thank god (or Evolution or whatever). Only one year to go.

Is it really that surprising that a generally larger penis is more attractive? I doubt that heterosexual men are unaware of the general qualities that make a sexually attractive male member anymore than women are unaware of attractive qualities of breasts (large or small) and so forth. The surprising thing is the Ancient Greeks failed to discover proper penis proportionality somehow.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:58 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The water in Acient Greece was very cold.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:07 AM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Hell, we even had someone in here (presumably male) arguing that women are on some No True Cocksman delusion when they honestly prefer larger penises, in a thread discussing an article that scientifically proves this very point.

word. I await the day when a woman skips into a thread about the scientific basis for male attraction and states with absolute certainty that men don't like 'big _____' or 'small _____,' they're just deluded and lying....

That's just a special thing you get to say about women, because once again, their sexuality is all rainbows and candy floss and there's no physiological basis to it, obviously. (I can see how it would be a valid opinion to say the case for large penises is overstated, but to say every woman is deluded is, um, deficient.)




There is no widespread, strongly-reinforced social belief (among men, at least) that women in general believe penis size to be unimportant. Quite the reverse. The reason that women feel a social pressure to say that penis size is unimportant is precisely because of the widespread, strongly-reinforced social belief that it is important and that emphasizing that point to their male partners will play upon their insecurities in that area.

I think this is maybe a part of the confusion-- that the "women like big penises" meme has become so exaggerated and so not about actual women's sexuality that it's more the punchline to one of those old worn-out war-of-the-sexes type dirty jokes, and of course it seems kind of unnatural, because there's no space in our culture for the idea of a woman actually being fixated by a man's primary sexual characteristics. We're allowed to be cutesy about it or talk or joke about it, but we're not actually allowed to let our mouths go slack in a wave of dark lust. That's for men. Women are the ones who are always supposed to be composed and performative in bed. We don't have space to say, "I love your cock, let me kind of obsess over it a bit for my own benefit." Unless it's a porny performative thing. It's really weird, imo, and complicated. How many women tell their male partners to masturbate for them, because it's hot? Because that actually IS hot, to a lot of women, but it's so much more common for a man to ask that of a woman than vice versa. Women are supposed to be the ones saying "look at my body! get turned on!" whereas men just have to be attractive enough to get to bed and don't need to spend any more time drawing attention to it.



and yoink, I take your point about Jon Hamm. I think the issue is maybe more about what women are supposed to prefer in their actual mates-- celebrities are meant to be shallowly appealing-- but when a woman says, "looks don't matter," we believe that's much more profoundly true than if a man were to say it. In fact, women are encouraged to say it much more than men. And I don't think that's about women lying, I think it's just the fact that it has a meaning which is not as complete as maybe a male-dominated culture, that objectifies women and infantalizes female sexuality, would like it to be.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:10 AM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


We don't have space to say, "I love your cock, let me kind of obsess over it a bit for my own benefit." Unless it's a porny performative thing.

Exactly! Or it's like a Paglia-esque "Women just like the cock because they want what the cock represents" (i.e. patriarchal power) and not because, you know, women who like dudes like a lot of different things about them up to and including the sexxin things.
posted by jessamyn at 11:13 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'll bet an awful lot of adolescent boys go through the same ritual of reading some statistic somewhere about what constitutes a "normal" penis length and then getting out a ruler to see how they measure up. Then they go through the whole "but wait, is that from the top or the bottom? And where exactly is the "starting point" in either case?" drama.

Yes, 6 inches, top, base.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:20 AM on April 9, 2013


Women are supposed to be the ones saying "look at my body! get turned on!" whereas men just have to be attractive enough to get to bed and don't need to spend any more time drawing attention to it.

"The female body is a work of art. The male body is utilitarian. It's for gettin' around. It's like a Jeep."

- Elaine, "The Apology"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:04 PM on April 9, 2013


"Speak for yourself, Elaine."

- Empress Callipygos, "just now"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:16 PM on April 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


Although, to be fair, my body is a lot like a Jeep.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:21 PM on April 9, 2013


Mine too, although I'm thinking specifically of my friend's '97 Cherokee that catches on fire so often and frequently decides it's not going to go above 35 miles per hour.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:25 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mine's like a Jeep with a big flaming laughing skull painted on the front and the skull is wearing a top hat and sunglasses and is smoking a bong and on the front bumper someone has airbrushed the word "BADDITUDE" and on the back bumper there's a STUPID "Co-EXIST" bumper sticker because this used to be my sister's jeep
posted by Greg Nog at 12:25 PM on April 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


What if you think Jeeps AND men are sexy?
posted by corb at 12:27 PM on April 9, 2013


Your metaphor is less clarifying than you might have hoped.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:27 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


What if you think Jeeps AND men are sexy?

Rule 34.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:35 PM on April 9, 2013


Rule 34.

Oh god, a Google search reveals it's so true.
posted by corb at 12:41 PM on April 9, 2013


I've always wondered if men who had above-average sized penises (or below average) were sort of aware of that and whether it became a self-esteem factor, the way having long eyelashes or a strong chin other things that are thought of as being "conventionally attractive" would do. Like, you know, all other things being equal if guys with larger (but not LPSG large) penises were like "Awww yeah!" or if it's just one of a huge number of things that makes up whether or not your satisfied with your looks/body or not.

Speaking for myself, as before, I don't think a big penis would be a free ticket out of insecurity. It would just be a fallback: "I may be an ugly sad sack, but hey! my dick's thickness would be pleasing to women if they ever saw it." And then that last part would probably send me into a funk again.

I remember performing the ritual yoink mentions as a kid. Googled the average length and everything. It was a fierce disappointment, especially for one with not much other than academic achievement going for him. It was bad enough that I was chubby, weak, clumsy, and socially awkward, with skin that glistened and hands that sweat so much that people complained when I handed them game controllers; bad enough that I shrank from talking with girls because I feared their disapproval; no, God had seen fit to give me a small penis (it's not actually that short, but it sure ain't thick), ensuring I fit the stereotype completely.

On the other hand, I finally understood the jokes about masturbating through your front pocket.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:46 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


all other things being equal if guys with larger (but not LPSG large) penises were like "Awww yeah!" or if it's just one of a huge number of things that makes up whether or not your satisfied with your looks/body or not.

Alas, if only all other things were even close to equal. Being tall and gangly (and hence incredibly insecure) certainly outweighed any type of 'awww yeah' by an order of magnitude, combined with (when I was a younger man at the very least) the anxiety of what if I'm not good enough in the "how you use it" department?
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 12:53 PM on April 9, 2013


but when a woman says, "looks don't matter," we believe that's much more profoundly true than if a man were to say it. In fact, women are encouraged to say it much more than men. And I don't think that's about women lying, I think it's just the fact that it has a meaning which is not as complete as maybe a male-dominated culture, that objectifies women and infantalizes female sexuality, would like it to be.

In my case I would say I'm attracted to men that are not conventionally handsome-- in fact the "prettier" a man is, the more I am turned off. Jon Hamm is nice to look at but I'm not attracted to him. In fact I would be hard pressed to name an actor that I find sexy. Most of the men that I lust after are rugged, aging and shaggy-haired but usually I find the lust comes with knowing the guy rather than just first sight.

Two events shaped my idea of what big cocks meant; both events happened when I was around 15. First, I read The Godfather in which Sonny's cock is too big and causes giggling among the women and some pain to his wife. Then he has sex with the bridesmaid (who is "too big down there" and ends up having surgery to reduce the size of her vagina) who turns out to be his perfect match.

The other event was when I had an older woman that I was close to, tell me a story about her night with a monster cock. All of her girlfriends knew about this guy-- he was legendary. A date was set up. She told me that the sexual encounter was a failure because he treated her like a piece of meat that was manipulated to his satisfaction; his legendary cock had turned him into a selfish lover. My takeaway was that some guys just have cocks that are too big. Fine for starring in porn films but not for real life.

My first husband was a grower who was not impressive even fully erect but it didn't matter in the bedroom. He taught me I was capable of multiple orgasms.

Fast forward 30 years and I am now married to a guy with a big cock. A cock I love looking at all the time. However, as much as I love looking, the truth is it could be a little smaller and I would have less trouble. We buy lube by the gallon and even so the wrong position can be a problem. Too much sex can be a problem. Sometimes I need a little recovery time.

Sorry if this is TMI but this stuff hardly ever gets talked about. Big cocks are fun to look at in the flesh (although big pant bulges do nothing for me) but my experience of them is to be a little leery.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:54 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's nice for somebody somewhere (a scientist, even) to straightforwardly say that women actual have physical, sexual preferences in general-- that it's not just men who look at hip-to-waist ratios and go !, but that women also appreciate... "ratios." It's refreshing just to know that our visual, physical tastes are taken seriously for a second...

I just think that acknowledging women's physical and visual preferences would be nice for a change....


As a guy I find it refreshing, too, but also a little crazy-making (without blaming anyone in particular), because I thought we were acknowledging women's preferences. According to the top Google hits for "size doesn't matter," or an article search for "penis size" on PsychologyToday.com, it's supposedly women themselves saying they care about penis size way less than men do, whether appearance-wise or performance-wise.

The refreshing part for me is that this does open space for men to see themselves as potential objects to be lusted over, which you lament about the lack of. This is exciting to me! (It's also a double-edged sword because it opens men up to more of the body anxiety that women routinely experience, but even this has the potential silver lining of helping men to empathize with women's experiences.)

Anyway, I guess another thing is I instinctively feel bad when I think about any shame or self-consciousness I might cause a man within hearing distance when I talk about my "innate" preference for this or that. I have my preferences-- do I want men with small penises to feel bad? Of course not. Would I date a man with a small penis? Yes. I guess I often wonder why more men don't feel a little like that when they start to talk about their love of large breasts or small waists-- or do they?

One particularly-forward ex I'm still friends with has talked enthusiastically about the size and shape of her past lovers' penises, and she's emphatic both about loving the biggest ones and not enjoying the smaller ones. I was clearly not her all-time favorite (which stung), but it was educational for me to hear what women typically don't say when men are around.

But at least some men feel the way you do. I don't feel completely comfortable gushing over attractive women with my male friends, even when no women are in earshot. It doesn't feel great to encourage or participate in that way of talking about women, yet I do find it a relief to vent what amounts to shared frustrated longing.

...for the most part even those (genuinely) kind and respectful men have their preferences, and of course as a woman I'm supposed to know that. Whereas kind and respectful women are supposed to genuinely not really care about anything, on a physical level-- even if they do, it's kind of inadmissible.

So interesting. I've tended to believe that women generally do at least care less about physical appearance and more about men's other qualities, and that this was an attitude worthy of aspiring to as a man. In other words, I've believed that kind and respectful men should try really hard not to care about physical stuff, either, and that it's a weakness if men fail to be blind to it. I find it instantly relatable to think that women might also feel guilty over having physical or visual preferences, and it's sort of welcome news.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 1:00 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


and yoink, I take your point about Jon Hamm. I think the issue is maybe more about what women are supposed to prefer in their actual mates-- celebrities are meant to be shallowly appealing-- but when a woman says, "looks don't matter," we believe that's much more profoundly true than if a man were to say it.

Yes, I know what you mean (as do the writers of every big-fat-slob man married to covergirl-hot woman sitcom out there): and, indeed, there have been plenty of versions of this discussion (including right here on Metafilter) where the frame is "men are such pigs because they care about how attractive their partners are and women are better because they don't" rather than this thread's "patriarchy prevents women from admitting/acknowledging that their partner's attractiveness is just as important to them as it is to men" version.

I guess my only point is that all of this is confused and contradictory points on a series of continuums, not a nice clear black and white. When we talk about "what our culture believes" about sex we have to remember that we can believe seven utterly contradictory things before breakfast. One of the oldest double binds that has been used to put women in the "wrong" about sex since at least the ancient Greeks is the simultaneous belief that women are essentially uninterested in sex ("those frigid bitches!") and that they are all utterly driven by sex ("those brainless whores!"). For every "angel of the house" stereotype we have about women we have a King Lear:
Down from the waist they are centaurs, though women all above. But to the girdle do the gods inherit; beneath is all the fiends'. There’s hell, there’s darkness, there’s the sulfurous pit— burning, scalding, stench, consumption!
or a Pope:
Men, some to Bus'ness, some to Pleasure take;
But ev'ry Woman is at heart a Rake
And speaking of sitcoms: what more standard joke in both the US and UK sitcom is there than the "oversexed" wife with the useless husband who can't satisfy her needs? Three's Company, Married, With Children etc. etc. Sometimes the point of this joke is to portray female sexual desire as monstrous, of course, but you can run the joke at the man's expense too: that it takes a "real man" to keep a woman's natural and proper sexual appetite satisfied.

And in practice most women (and men), in my experience, navigate a kind of double-consciousness ("double" at least) on these matters. The only groups of people in my entire life that I have hung out with regularly who would routinely talk frankly and in terms of comparative assessment about the anatomies of their various sexual partners have been women. My wife knows things about her women-friends sexual lives and sexual desires that I could no more imagine knowing about my male friends lives and desires than flapping my arms and flying to the moon.

Or, again, think of how a TV program or a movie would handle a group of women choosing to have a "hen night" at a strip club, or organizing a sex-toy tupperware-style party, or a sexy-lingerie tupperware-style party vs. how male equivalents would be handled. Actually, while you could have a network sitcom do a female sex-toy party, a male equivalent is unimaginable. The one would broadly play to an "empowerment" angle, the other would simply be seen as depraved.

None of which, of course, is to say "but really women rule the world!!" or any other MRA crap like that. Obviously it is true that women's ownership of their own sexual desires is in some ways a much more deeply fraught issue in our culture than male ownership of theirs (at least for heterosexual men and women). It is simply to say that any blanket statement of the "men do this and women do that" variety betrays the unbelievably contradictory and muddled reality of our hopelessly conflicted cultural context.
posted by yoink at 1:07 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


But at least some men feel the way you do. I don't feel completely comfortable gushing over attractive women with my male friends, even when no women are in earshot. It doesn't feel great to encourage or participate in that way of talking about women, yet I do find it a relief to vent what amounts to shared frustrated longing.

Seconding this. I've yet to have a conversation with other men about women's attractiveness that hasn't been about enforcing group norms.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:10 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly, a men's sex toy party sounds like a Saturday Night Live sketch.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 1:17 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, a men's sex toy party is barely imaginable in real life. The same goes for men discussing explicit details of their sex lives, as opposed to the nudge, nudge, wink, wink we actually engage in. Yet another ex of mine told me once that she and her best friend would discuss what their orgasms were like. I admit that I'm still way too homophobic to imagine doing that with a guy friend.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 1:35 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, I ducked out of answering corb earlier, but Secret Life of Gravy has given me a shot of guts, so...

Does it genuinely not matter at all, or do you mostly mean "within a certain range it's fine"?

With me, it genuinely does not matter at all.

If I encounter someone with a smaller size than average (and yes, I have done), I've always experienced, at most, an initial tiny moment of "hmm, let's see how this is gonna work" skepticism when I get to the initial reveal - and then the guy starts actually doing things to me, and I start doing things to him, and I think "who the hell CARES because I'm getting laid." There are way more ways to get someone off than just through p-i-v sex.

And as for the aesthetics - if I dig the guy, then I accept the entire package, no matter what the anatomical features. Especially after the first time sex happens; it's kind of like how ducklings instinctively imprint on the first thing they see after hatching as "mother," whether that thing is indeed their mother, a person, a dog, or a slowly-moving truck or whatever. In my case - the first time I sleep with someone I really like, the exact physical characteristics they have become exactly what I dig. The weirdest little quirk on their body becomes my fetish. But only if it's on their body - if I start seeing Sid and Sid's got a crew cut, then crew cuts in general may not do it for me, but Sid's crew cut drives me crazy. So by the same token, if I start seeing a guy, and I really dig him, then whatever size penis he has is the most perfect size penis ever....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:50 PM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've got to say, as an intersex person with an intersex spouse, that the genital conformity doctors are always trying to impose, and studies are always trying to affirm, is really overrated when it comes to actual sexuality.

In my experience (but hardly, I think, mine alone), a lot of what gets in the way of good sexual encounters is adherence to social scripts that say "Real Sex" consists of inserting Tab A into Slot B. It turns out that for many people, this can be boring, or painful, or unsatisfying--but because they don't want to seem weird, people just play along. Not wanting to look weird, they worry about small penises and feel inadequate, or they worry their labia are too big and feel disgusting.

The great thing about being born with a nonstandard set of bits is that the scripts generally don't apply, and so one has little choice but to be creative and follow one's pleasure. That's liberating. The problem is that one's genitalia may have been so badly messed up by nonconsensual childhood surgical interventions that they don't work at all. Also, the medical profession inculcates intersex kids with so much shame about our differences that swaths of intersex people remain celibate out of social anxiety. But for those who can overcome that, there's a great payoff in terms of unscripted and creative sexuality.

Personally, I couldn't care less how big or small anyone's genitalia are. What I do care about is mutual fun, a sense of play, and an investment in the pleasure of the partner.
posted by DrMew at 1:56 PM on April 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: thanks for your bravery, and honestly? I'm a little jealous. :)
posted by corb at 1:57 PM on April 9, 2013


But see, this is my point, that the people who are saying size matters aren't lying - but neither are the people who are saying it doesn't. I haven't been "brainwashed" to think this way out of being nice or anything, it is genuinely and sincerely what I think.

When you're talking about sexuality, this is a highly, HIGHLY personal thing, and it makes way more sense to take people at their word when they say what they like.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:20 PM on April 9, 2013


I can see where you're coming from. How about maybe, "Some people say size matters, and they're not lying. Some people say it doesn't, and they're not lying. Some others feel pressured to say one or the other, and they might be - but it is way more offensive to assume someone's lying than incorrectly assuming they're telling the truth, so just take each person at their word"?
posted by corb at 4:40 PM on April 9, 2013


Corb, I'm not sure that "take people at their word when they tell you what they like" doesn't say all of what you just said.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:42 PM on April 9, 2013


It probably does, and I probably read you wrong. In which case, huzzah! Agreement!
posted by corb at 4:46 PM on April 9, 2013


There really is a difference between a preference for body shape or hair or breast size and a preference for penis size. The penis is the thing that has to do a lot of the direct stimulation that makes sex pleasurable.

I've heard of "micropenis" encounters from female friends ... in one case to the point where she wasn't sure she was having intercourse.

Ultimately, penis size matters for anyone who want to be pleasurably penetrated with a penis. If you disagree, you may not have experienced the full range of available penises.
posted by crayz at 9:59 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


>>No man is an island, and it turns out neither is his penis.
>More of a peninsula.

That joke is actually on Jefferson Airplane's 1967 album "After Bathing At Baxters":
"No man is an island." (repeat) "He's a peninsula!"
posted by msalt at 11:34 PM on April 9, 2013


penis size matters for anyone who want to be pleasurably penetrated with a penis.

Speak for yourself. Unless you are suggesting that those of us who really don't give a fig about size are nobodies?
posted by nacho fries at 12:31 AM on April 10, 2013


Unless you are suggesting that those of us who really don't give a fig about size are nobodies?

No. As I said, if you want your body to be penetrated by an object, there are going to logically be some boundaries on that object's possible size and shape, unless your body is just made of hope and unicorns and love and undeterred by physical impossibility.
posted by crayz at 1:32 AM on April 10, 2013


Metafilter: If you disagree, you may not have experienced the full range of available penises.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:03 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think crayz answered the question I alluded to above. When people try to talk up the dating viability of a short person or an ugly person, they compensate with other attributes, but the white lie retort about a small penis is Size Doesn't Matter, and I think that's because visual attractiveness (height, weight, facial symmetry, labial configuration, scrotum length, etc.) is seen as an end in itself, but a large penis is seen as a means to an end.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:10 AM on April 10, 2013


When people try to talk up the dating viability of a short person or an ugly person, they compensate with other attributes, but the white lie retort about a small penis is Size Doesn't Matter, and I think that's because visual attractiveness (height, weight, facial symmetry, labial configuration, scrotum length, etc.) is seen as an end in itself, but a large penis is seen as a means to an end.

I think crayz was putting a fairly significant conditional on it, though - that penis size matters to those people for whom penetration is a really significant part of the sex act. I can't really find an argument with that. However - my own counter-move to that is to hint that it's also possible that, rather than suggesting that those of us who really don't care "haven't really experienced the possible range of sizes," instead are of a mind that "penetration is actually not the be-all and end-all."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:08 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I should have put a lot of "many"s in that. Dr Mew's post is another good counter to what I said. At this point the thread seems like it is a dozen people violently agreeing with each other, anyway.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:17 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: A dozen people violently &c
posted by msalt at 6:47 AM on April 10, 2013


jessamyn wrote: I have often wondered about this. Like women tend to know if they have a greater than average, average, or less than average rack. ... with men and penises, you can't tell as much.

As has been pointed out above, one will come across averages. However, in the pre-internet era, there's a pretty decent range upon what one will first read as "average". I first read 5.5", but during the early years of highschool, anything from 4.5-6.5" was batted around as average. If one's in the 4.5-6.5" range, there's of course going to be a big difference upon hearing that 4.5" is the number vs 6.5" being the number. So quality of data is going to have affected many of the men out there. Also, in highschool I'd heard that "if size matters; it's girth, not length." and none of the sources of data I came across mentioned girth. Heck, for people being raised with the internet; there's still going to be the issue of hearing some uncited number on a forum, as well the studies give broad ranges, uncertainties and don't exactly match other studies.

To my knowledge no guys shared their numbers with each other in highschool (however we did share what we heard was average and source if available). At the same point, all my girlfriends during that time wanted to know how long I was (that stopped after highschool). Some girls (I know from experience and anecdotes from friends) insisted on doing the measuring themselves when things progressed to the point of looking/touching. I know that the girls I hung around with shared the numbers they knew with their other girl friends, but the numbers/comparisons didn't make it out to us guys, so that made any uncertainty, or at least the secrecy, seem larger.

Beyond that, one can look at more sources of confusion. One might be above average, but then if one is also above average in height, then they're just average for their size, which directly affects appearance. Considering the girth issue; a wider penis may appear shorter because of the length/width ratio if one doesn't have something to reference for scale. Combining some of this with the difference of perspective when looking down at oneself, versus seeing someone else more from the side and further away in a locker room for a brief glance (again, nothing for comparing to scale). There's also a low sample size. With the fact that the above mentioned studies find averages all over the place I think likely leaves a lot of guys unsure where they are on the bell curve. Throw in some porn, and suddenly one's more likely to feel that they're definitely below average.

Ultimately, I feel those in the 4.5-6.5" don't know where in the "average" range they fall; just that they're not outliers... hopefully. Things might be different for those growing up in less puritanical regions than the American Mid-West.
posted by nobeagle at 8:23 AM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


The penis is the thing that has to do a lot of the direct stimulation that makes sex pleasurable.

One of the possible things, really. I get that it's important to a lot of people, but there's no need to create a narrow definition of what sex is just so the thing you have can be the focal point in it.

Ultimately, penis size matters for anyone who want to be pleasurably penetrated with a penis. If you disagree, you may not have experienced the full range of available penises.

I think there's a difference between saying "size matters" as in it's a thing that people care about, and saying "the bigger the better." I'm a certain size. Certain sized men work better for me. Guys way outside the range of normal on both ends are sub-optimal but I'm a lot like EC, I think my guy is perfect because we fit so well in so many ways, that being only one of them. And the love drugs have addled my brain so much I believe it's always been that way even though logically I know that can't be true.
posted by jessamyn at 8:32 AM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Three important takeaways from the "ladies like big penises" study
posted by homunculus at 11:19 AM on April 10, 2013


Body size and shape definitely influences perception. A 6" penis on someone who is 5'4" and 130 lbs looks totally different than the same size penis on someone who is 6'4" and 230 lbs. I've heard that many male porn stars are below average in height.
posted by desjardins at 12:09 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


So... they're just big boned?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:17 PM on April 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


James Deen is supposed to be around five-eight.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:31 PM on April 10, 2013


Average height in the US is 5' 9 1/2" (1.763 m). UK, Australia, and Canada are about the same. (wikipedia)
posted by desjardins at 1:16 PM on April 10, 2013


The penis is the thing that has to do a lot of the direct stimulation that makes sex pleasurable.

Yeah, well, it's not as if a vagina is some sort of inflexible gaping maw. It can hold on to a tampon the size of a baby carrot, and it can accomodate a baby's head. So while there are of course physiological size differences among women, that thing has an amazing capacity to stretch or contract for reasons both pleasurable and pain-preventing.

Kegels, yo.
posted by nacho fries at 2:02 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


inflexible gaping maw

There’s a new Cannibal Corpse album already?
posted by bongo_x at 2:16 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


And stating the obvious: if wiener-size were the be-all for sexual pleasure, my lesbian sisters would be SOL.

And if it were all about maximizing surface contact using OEM body parts (vs after-market inanimate objects), then I suppose fisting or footing would be the standard PIV sex act; and fist-and-forearm or foot-and-ankle size would be the benchmark for sizing up a man.

I can just picture size-queen women asking their dates to arm-wrestle on a first date to assess their suitability in the sack...
posted by nacho fries at 3:00 PM on April 10, 2013


I can just picture size-queen women asking their dates to arm-wrestle on a first date to assess their suitability in the sack...

I misread this as "fist date."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:42 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yep, the internet has ruined my brain too -- I was reading an article about a political figure going on a "fishing expedition" and I did a double-take.
posted by nacho fries at 3:49 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


And stating the obvious: if wiener-size were the be-all for sexual pleasure, my lesbian sisters would be SOL.

And yet the dildo store ain't getting rich selling baby-carrot sized dildos. I guess it will remain ever a mystery.
posted by crayz at 5:28 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am going to be an annoying internet person and ask if you have any actual knowledge of what the dildo stores actually do get rich selling. Because I know a lot of people who own little pocket rockets and now I am curious.
posted by jessamyn at 5:32 PM on April 10, 2013


Well sorting Amazon dildos by new & popular I see nearly all appear to be about 1 to 3 standard deviations above normal male penis size.
posted by crayz at 5:45 PM on April 10, 2013


"If you like baby carrots, you might also like..."
posted by nacho fries at 5:49 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just like Amazon is not a bookstore, it's also not a dildo store. Sorting Adam and Eve's Toys for Her selection by most popular achieves a different result. And the Toys for Men section shows many things that don't look like penises at all.
posted by jessamyn at 5:50 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, dear. I just did a Google search on "baby carrot dildo," and it upchucked this gem:

Zucchinis are a favorite alternative to the classic cucumber dildo. Here we've added some baby carrots for clit and G-spot stimulation. Cut a couple of inches off ...

The trailing sentence fragment, as it appears thusly truncated in the actual search result, made me wince.
posted by nacho fries at 5:51 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


(And was oddly fitting for this discussion.)
posted by nacho fries at 5:54 PM on April 10, 2013


And yet the dildo store ain't getting rich selling baby-carrot sized dildos.

Honey, sex toy stores sell a SHIT-TON more kinds of different things than just dildos. So before you close the book after getting your statistic on "average dildo size," then go back and ask them how the vibrator sales compare to the dildo sales - then ask to see some of those vibrators, and ask whether there are any that do NOT resemble penes, and then cross-check that with the sex toys for S&M vs. vanilla sex, and....

In other words, if there's that much of a range of sex toys, then you can't just say "but - big dildoes, that settles it" and assume that dick size is everything.

I mean, really. If a guy's taking me to Disneyland for free on an all-day pass, I'm REALLY not gonna care what highway he uses.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:56 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a whichever sized world works for you after all, it's a whichever sized world works for you after all...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:02 PM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


And besides the point, there are indeed smaller-sized dildos.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:10 PM on April 10, 2013


"all-day free pass to Disneyland" is my favorite new euphemism.

(I'll be waiting in the car.)
posted by iamkimiam at 2:23 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you go back to just "Sex toys" and search by new and popular, the most popular sex toy Amazon sells is this toy which has a micropenis-sized insertable part, so size can't be the only thing. Some people love a huge cock, but some people prefer other stuff instead!
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:42 AM on April 11, 2013


"all-day free pass to Disneyland" is my favorite new euphemism.

It's too early in the morning to come up with a good "E ticket" joke.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:09 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was going to go with an It's a Small World or Peter Pan joke myself.

I mean, really, the jokes ride themselves.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:15 AM on April 11, 2013


Hey girl, are you multi-Fantasmic? 'Cause even though It's A Small World, I'm still gonna take you to Space Mountain.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:13 AM on April 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


and if you want me to keep my park costume on during sex, you're fucking Goofy.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:39 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's too early in the morning to come up with a good "E ticket" joke.

More like Mr Toad's Wild Ride.
posted by zippy at 9:09 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: it's also not a dildo store
posted by zippy at 9:27 AM on April 12, 2013


Baby it's better / down where it's wetter?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:39 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love you all.

(Also, tangentially - I once saw a burlesque act where the dancer somehow had gotten an enormous Minnie Mouse head and did a "strip tease" as Minnie - she also wore some kind of ball-gowny thing, which at first glance looked strangely bulked-out. But when she took off the dress she was wearing a set of those dippy huge fake breasts that you see for sale on Halloween, which she then used to squirt water at the audience. She never took the Minnie head off. Sex and Disney seem to just fit together in some weird way.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:52 AM on April 12, 2013


(...Although after making that observation I should stress I have not been in the habit of doing so my own self.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:55 AM on April 12, 2013


IIRC, on one of the recent episodes of Dan Savage's podcast (possibly the Valentine's Day special one?) he had the owner of Babeland on as a special guest, and one of the questions that came up was "what's the most popular sex toy you sell?"

Apparently it's this,* which is fairly interesting because it's explicitly designed for use with a partner. In other words, the most popular toy sold isn't designed to simulate intercourse in the absence of a partner (or with a partner who doesn't have a penis), but is designed to augment PIV sex ... because that experience could be improved upon with some technology, for many people.

So not that we really needed any, but I think that's just more evidence against penetration by a large object being the be-all and end-all of sexual satisfaction.

* For those who don't want to or can't click on a Babeland link, it's the "We-vibe" which is a pretty small C-shaped semi-insertable vibrator designed to be used during penetrative sex.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:38 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


and if you want me to keep my park costume on during sex, you're fucking Goofy.

1) Welcome to how furry was born.

2) Why even bring Goofyy into this?
posted by hippybear at 3:45 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


No Dad! No!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:43 PM on April 12, 2013


Kristen Schaal's take.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:39 PM on April 13, 2013


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