"like a badly behaved uncle at a wedding"
May 27, 2017 12:23 PM   Subscribe

In 2014 The Guardian published artist Laura Dodsworth's photos of 100 women's breasts and their thoughts about them. Now there's a follow-up: Me and My Penis. (nsfw)
posted by jessamyn (24 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite


 
Now I've got Me and My Shadow running through my head, but not exactly.
posted by jonmc at 12:55 PM on May 27 [9 favorites]


From the breast article;

Indeed, when she showed her husband he was struck dumb. His first words were, "But they just don't look like the magazines."

From the penis article;

A couple of months before she started Manhood, Dodsworth split up with her husband, the father of her two sons.
posted by bongo_x at 1:01 PM on May 27 [3 favorites]


Actually both were good articles.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:17 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


A partner once said, “What do you think about when we have sex?” and I said, “What do you mean, what do I think about? I’m just like… I’m here with you. You’re naked, we’re making love and what else is there?” Then I thought, “Oh, you fantasise about other things? Other people? Really?” For me, sex is almost about vacancy. It’s a moment of complete embodiment, of being totally calm in the world.

Exactly. I had this same exchange several times.
posted by bongo_x at 1:39 PM on May 27 [11 favorites]


This is great. Teenagers should have an opportunity to read both of those articles -- no shame, no sterility, no '70s-style blind positivity, just real stories about lived experiences in the body. I am surely not the only person who would have felt so much less shame for so many years if I'd understood that stretch marks don't just happen to people who've been pregnant or morbidly obese, and nobody needs to be ashamed of them.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:12 PM on May 27 [7 favorites]


I had this same exchange several times.

Me too, and not usually about sex neither.
posted by glasseyes at 2:29 PM on May 27 [3 favorites]


Countess; I'm old and married for a long time, so I'm never sure if I grew up in a bubble or how much things have changed.

I have not been with been with that many partners relatively (I'm guessing but I don't really know the numbers) so it's always weird to me all the discussion that seems to come from the position people having never seen other naked people before. I saw stretch marks on women when I was in my 20's, I didn't really know what they were. Other young women were concerned about them, but not horrified. They explained to me that it just happens in a lot of cases, depending on what type of skin you had, luck of the draw. I never really thought much about it. Who were these people I grew up with? They didn't seem terribly enlightened at the time.

It's not like we didn't have airbrushed models back then.

Naked penis pictures are funny and interesting to me because I realize at this age I still haven't seen that many un-erect naked penises. There's quite a variety out there.
posted by bongo_x at 2:48 PM on May 27 [6 favorites]


I must say it was a beautiful, sensitive and informative article (the one about boobs was good too) full of proper British understatement.

"I was lying in bed, masturbating, as you do, "
"I went to a boarding school for disabled kids... It made a quick fumble quite tricky."

And this from the artist: 'Did the project make her think differently about men? “Yes, there was a feeling of falling in love with men. It was really lovely.”
posted by glasseyes at 2:56 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Oh and, as an art student, I saw quite a lot of penises early on in life, including one that throbbed away at half-mast as soon as the model saw me, for the rest of that lesson. A fact I didn't realise till years later going through my old drawings (ex-convent school girl). That particular class was for a bunch of young catering apprentices the curriculum was trying to inoculate with extra culture and I was the only female there. The models in the fine art dept. were a bit more um, professional.

But it makes sense there's as much variety in the details of men's bodies as of women's, and that media representations of both are limited and stereotyped.
posted by glasseyes at 3:06 PM on May 27 [3 favorites]


Naked penis pictures are funny and interesting to me because I realize at this age I still haven't seen that many un-erect naked penises. There's quite a variety out there.

One of the guys in the article makes a similar point:
There are unsaid rules in men’s toilets: you choose the urinal farthest from another man and you stand next to another man only if there are no other urinals available. You look dead ahead, you don’t look left or right. The unsaid rule of the changing room is that you change as quickly as possible, you face the locker, you don’t linger. Speaking to many of my heterosexual friends, that means they’ve seen only a handful of penises in the flesh, and they don’t always know what’s normal or not.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:18 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


There are unsaid rules in men’s toilets: you choose the urinal farthest from another man and you stand next to another man only if there are no other urinals available.

Click The Man.
posted by effbot at 3:26 PM on May 27 [4 favorites]


Now I've got Me and My Shadow running through my head, but not exactly.

“Me and My Arrow”
posted by D.C. at 3:26 PM on May 27 [6 favorites]


Now I've got Me and My Shadow running through my head, but not exactly.

“Me and My Dick” (wiki)
posted by effbot at 3:35 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Obligatory Monty Python Noel Coward pastiche.
posted by bartleby at 3:52 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


... Who were these people I grew up with? They didn't seem terribly enlightened at the time.

It's a hell of a thing, isn't it? Gender relations are definitely better than when I was growing up in the '80s and '90s, but there wasn't this sense that the body had been completely defined, and that hairless perfection was the baseline of acceptability. We were mostly all just happy to be there. Even so, I remember having a sense of my body as being wrong, being too pale and squishy, by at least age seven. It wasn't anything my parents said, not in the slightest. It just ... was.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:00 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't mean to imply that things were all rosy acceptance. I frame my "growing up" time as the 80's and if you were getting naked with someone it was a good thing. LGBTQ acceptance is better now, but body image things seem worse, and straight people's relationships seem to have gone back in time.

I get all my information about what young people think from MF and the internet, so...

I'm just interested in how people see things as getting better or getting worse when it seems to me like it's always a random combination. The arc of the universe wanders around with no discernible pattern.
posted by bongo_x at 4:25 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


I sort of prefer projects like these that focus on men. Projects that focus on women's bodies have a tendency to reinforce male gaze, intensify insecurities and generally perpetuate the toxic dynamics they set out to challenge simply because naked female bodies are so sexualized and charged and have been in our culture for centuries that more of them with more diversity can't really reach escape velocity to break the cultural context that women are to be looked at.

By contrast, viewing men as worth looking at is incredibly taboo, and carries a whole different kind of social context that I feel leaves more room for genuine humanization. It would be interesting to see a similar project that breaks out of a binary mode.
posted by byanyothername at 5:14 PM on May 27 [14 favorites]


I saw a project recently that featured shirtless men of all shapes, sizes and conditions, and as a trans man, it was really affirming to see the incredible diversity. There are LOTS of cis men with bigger chests than AFAB people. We're so used to seeing cis male bodies in only four or five flavors and we unfairly compare ourselves to those. (Women have it even worse, of course.) Normalizing nudity benefits everyone, really.
posted by AFABulous at 5:30 PM on May 27 [20 favorites]


Both me and The Hitchhiker (as he's always along for the ride, and he has gotten me in epic trouble over the years) appreciated being reminded we are just like everyone else.
posted by Samizdata at 6:09 PM on May 27


As an intersex person, I am all for efforts to educate people about the wide range of genital appearances. So go, demystifying photo collection!

I spend a lot of time and energy trying to get people to understand that sex really is a spectrum. The phalloclitoral structure varies in a full continuum from outie to innie. But I think a lot of people just hear me speaking gibberish. It's not just that they are completely unaware of what the middle range of phalloclitoral forms that some intersex people have look like. They don't know what the range of endosex (nonintersex) genitals look like.

This is because most people in our society seem to get their information about what genitals look like from two sources: medical illustrations and porn. And both of these serve our society's binary sex ideology by showing genitals at the extreme ends of the poles of the phalloclitoral spectrum (medical illustrations really are as bad as porn in terms of showing very large penises and tiny clitoral heads).

Our society's dedication to binary sex ideology hurts a whole lot of people. It's worst for those of us surgeons take a scalpel to nonconsensually because our middling phalloclitoral forms at birth are framed as "disordered"--but a whole lot of endosex people live with shame because their genitals don't look like the idealized binary extremes they've seen in scientific illustrations or porn.

So yay for showing genital diversity.
posted by DrMew at 8:31 PM on May 27 [30 favorites]


I spent an embarrassingly large period of my early life believing I had some kind of surgery on my penis and that my parents were too embarrassed to tell me. I was too embarrassed to ask about it. It wasn't until my mid-twenties that I saw a perineal raphe in porn (BBS porn over a 14.4 modem to the rescue) and realized that it was a normal thing.
posted by srboisvert at 6:31 AM on May 28 [1 favorite]


yay for showing genital diversity.

Yes. I just finished a book called Born Both: An Intersex Life by Hida Viloria which was a really interesting read. As people learn more about transgender identity (and particularly the general conventions that you STFU about what people's genitals look like) I find that it's useful to be able to... just sort of talk about them somewhat removed from issues of sexuality. This is, as byanyothername points out, rather difficult to do when looking at women's breasts, possibly slightly easier in this context. I highly recommend this book for people who are interested in getting inside one person's head (who discusses genitals a fair bit) as Hida makes choices about gender presentation and gender identity while participating in a fair amount of activism about intersex issues. Very good read.
posted by jessamyn at 8:31 AM on May 28 [1 favorite]


We've made some progress on awareness of body-shaming, and fat-shaming, but small-penis-shaming has received almost no attention. We gleefully make jokes about Trump's "small hands" as if it were not an awful way to shame real people who have small penises, for which there should be no shame.
posted by Vispa Teresa at 11:34 PM on May 28 [3 favorites]


Bodies are so interesting. I used to go to a nude hot spring and the variety of people's shapes and sizes is remarkable.

I love the 92 year old intersectional feminist!
posted by apricot at 3:29 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


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