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Secrets Of The Phallus
May 5, 2009 4:33 PM   Subscribe

Why is the penis shaped like that? [T]he human penis is actually an impressive “tool” in the truest sense of the word, one manufactured by nature over hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution. You may be surprised to discover just how highly specialized a tool it is. Furthermore, you’d be amazed at what its appearance can tell us about the nature of our sexuality.
posted by hippybear (156 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
You have to have the right tool for the job. Uh huh huh... huh huh...
posted by Joe Beese at 4:34 PM on May 5, 2009


comment that references the shape of my phallus, implying impossible geometries.
posted by localhuman at 4:35 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


It takes a special type of psychological scientist to tell the little old lady sitting next to him on a flight to Denver that he studies how people use their penises when she asks what he does for a living.

I'm actually a librarian, but I think I may start doing this on airplanes.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:36 PM on May 5, 2009 [15 favorites]


That was fascinating. I was gripped from beginning to end.
posted by WPW at 4:39 PM on May 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


Why is the penis shaped like that?

You are going to think I'm lying, but I actually had this exact thought yesterday. But then I was like "well, duh".
posted by DU at 4:40 PM on May 5, 2009


It was an interesting article but it didn't really explain why humans specifically would have their particular penis shape in contrast with other primates. It seemed to me that all the evolutionary justifications for the pumping action etc. could just as well apply to chimpanzees. Maybe not bonobos.
posted by Barking Frog at 4:41 PM on May 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I once spent a summer with a 450-pound silverback gorilla that was hung like a wasp

Haven't we all?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:42 PM on May 5, 2009 [20 favorites]


Q: Why do gorillas have large nostrils?
A: Because they have large fingers.
posted by jbickers at 4:42 PM on May 5, 2009 [11 favorites]


the angle of the dangle....
posted by pearlybob at 4:43 PM on May 5, 2009


You may be surprised to discover just how highly specialized a tool it is.

No I wouldn't. I mean, it can only be used for two things. That sounds pretty specialized to me.
posted by hifiparasol at 4:45 PM on May 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm glad that they ran experiments and the like, but I have to say that this is all pretty obvious.
posted by ob at 4:45 PM on May 5, 2009


Oh, wait. Three. I forgot the other day I stopped to help someone change a tire.
posted by hifiparasol at 4:45 PM on May 5, 2009 [32 favorites]


Penetrating analysis.
posted by empath at 4:46 PM on May 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


Obviously the penis is shaped as it is for the purposes of reproduction and urination, but as a heterosexual man, I've always wondered if it is indeed visually appealing to women in the same way breasts or a vagina is visually appealing to men.

Maybe it's just my rampant heterosexuality talking, but I can't see how a woman could possibly find a penis attractive. They're just so utilitarian, whereas every part of a womans body is akin to a work of art.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:47 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm less concerned about why my penis is shaped as it is and more concerned about the fact that I can't seem to fit it through a door.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:48 PM on May 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


To keep your hand from slipping off the end?
posted by mhoye at 4:49 PM on May 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


human ejaculate is expelled with great force and considerable distance (up to two feet if not contained)

Someone's hiding their insecurities in pseudoscientific paretheticals.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:50 PM on May 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


comment that references the shape of my phallus, implying impossible geometries.

my penis is soon going to be featured in a journal of nano-measurement.
posted by the aloha at 4:51 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm less concerned about why my penis is shaped as it is and more concerned about the fact that it seems to be stuck in Astro Zombie's door.

Actually, that now seems to be directly relevant to its shape.
posted by Stunt at 4:55 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


They're just so utilitarian, whereas every part of a womans body is akin to a work of art.

Where do people get this idea? Do you even hang around with real women? Not to say they aren't attractive or anything, but seriously? Akin to a work of art? Compared to men?

How often have you looked at gender mixed photos of foreheads, armpits, or assholes? Just to pick some random examples of body parts. Can you go through them and decide "Art, not art, art, art, not art." What happens when a transsexual completes a transformation? He or she suddenly starts or stops being art?
posted by ODiV at 4:55 PM on May 5, 2009 [25 favorites]


Poor Amy.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 4:58 PM on May 5, 2009 [11 favorites]


I've always wondered if it is indeed visually appealing to women in the same way breasts or a vagina is visually appealing to men.

From my experience, not to the same extent, but I'd also suggest that women might be capable of imprinting on penises of partners in some weird prostaglandin-to-oxytocin-fueled post-coital hypnosis, and looooving them especially and being turned on by the sight of them in connection with the hormonal payload they promise, above and beyond uninseminating orgasm.

Googling to verify that I'd read that about prostaglandin, I found this charming phrase:

"Effect of presence of an estrous teaser bitch on characteristics of the canine ejaculate."

I smell a hit single.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:00 PM on May 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


First, despite variation in size between individuals, the erect human penis is especially large compared to that of other primates, measuring on average between five and six inches in length and averaging about five inches in circumference. (Often in this column I’ll relate the science at hand to my own experiences, but perhaps this particular piece is best written without my normally generous use of anecdotes.)

Yes, thank you.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:00 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or to quote Isabella Rossellini (on the subject of vaginas yet somehow apt here): "I would make it species-specific so I don't get screwed by a bear."
posted by wabbittwax at 5:02 PM on May 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


Why is the penis shaped like that?

That's what she said.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:02 PM on May 5, 2009 [12 favorites]



You may be surprised to discover just how highly specialized a tool it is.

No I wouldn't. I mean, it can only be used for two things. That sounds pretty specialized to me.
posted by hifiparasol at 4:45 PM on May 5 [+] [!]


I don't think you're aware of puppetry of the penis.

Oh, wait. Three. I forgot the other day I stopped to help someone change a tire.
posted by hifiparasol at 4:45 PM on May 5 [+] [!]


... maybe not.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 5:04 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


localhuman: "the shape of my phallus, implying impossible geometries."

Due to an embarrassing accident trying to break a world record in the mid '90s, my junk is now two-dimensional and non-orientable. That's right: a Klein penis.
posted by The White Hat at 5:04 PM on May 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


Questions not asked:

Does the shape add to women's pleasure at all? And would that aid in reproductive success?

Does using a fake porn-store vagina really replicate an actual one? Real ones also expand and contract (it's not just "the penis fills it" it's also "the vagina expands and grips the penis" at least, if the woman is having a good time it does).

I like that the only "reasons" a woman would have sex with more than one man were "rape" and "infidelity." What if she just wanted to, and no one gave her shit about who she slept with? I know, crazy! Women--they hate sex!

Effigy2000, penises are not objectified in the same way that women's bodies are, so they don't have the same associations. You cannot walk down a street without seeing some artful representation of women's legs, hips, lips, whatever in ads or shop signs. If men had been traded like a commodity for a few millennia, then representations of men's phalluses (and butts, and calves, etc) would probably be everywhere, and the approved shape, size, and grooming of them would be up for public discussion in the way that women's breast size or choice of leg-hair grooming options is.
posted by emjaybee at 5:04 PM on May 5, 2009 [23 favorites]


human ejaculate is expelled with great force and considerable distance (up to two feet if not contained)

I can top that. Gimme a few minutes...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:10 PM on May 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Did you hear about the man with five penises?

His pants fit him like a glove that was carefully tailored for reproductive organs that have evolved over time to a highly specialized shape!
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:10 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


his is a logico-deductive investigative technique for uncovering the adaptive purpose or function of existing (or “extant”) physical traits, psychological processes, or cognitive biases.

I remember Scientific American being bad at times, but... shit.
posted by Avelwood at 5:15 PM on May 5, 2009


Q: Why do gorillas have large nostrils?
A: Because they have large fingers.


By the same logic, my penis is at least 4 fingers too long. The circumference seems about right, though.
posted by qvantamon at 5:17 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's right: a Klein penis.

Fixed that link for you.
posted by qvantamon at 5:18 PM on May 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


They're just so utilitarian, whereas every part of a womans body is akin to a work of art.

Until very recent history haven't men's appeal to women been one of protection and security? That would mean that physical large and strong men would be the best providers. By contrast a beautiful woman with large breasts and large hips would seemingly give that man more, healthier (well-fed) and better looking offspring which would in turn give them a better chance at survival. I'm not sure the man's sexual organs really factor into the selection process as much as their strength (physical and financial) and ability to support a family.
posted by any major dude at 5:19 PM on May 5, 2009


ok, I find most evolutionary psychology to be crap and here's why. Maybe the penis came first and the vagina came second?
posted by bluesky43 at 5:23 PM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like that the only "reasons" a woman would have sex with more than one man were "rape" and "infidelity." What if she just wanted to, ...

Uh, that falls under infidelity. I know you want to point out that one's values might not require monogamy, but such a situation is not excluded by the authors choice of word for "not-monogamy".
posted by kiltedtaco at 5:28 PM on May 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Gallup and coauthor, Rebecca Burch, conjecture that, “A longer penis would not only have been an advantage for leaving semen in a less accessible part of the vagina, but by filling and expanding the vagina it also would aid and abet the displacement of semen left by other males as a means of maximizing the likelihood of paternity.”

Wouldn't it simply displace the seconds-sloppiness into the goalie's crease? (I'd think outward displacement would have more to do with the bell-endedness than the bigness, especially since ye olde hooha is form-fitting.)

Besides, did such situations come up in human behavior frequently enough to evolve a smooth little monkey penis into the thingie we know and love today? Was Wilma Flintstone really that slutty?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:29 PM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Until very recent history haven't men's appeal to women been one of protection and security? That would mean that physical large and strong men would be the best providers.

Gargantuan penii can be used to both club onrushing Dilophosaurus' and knock nourishing papaya fruit from tall trees.
posted by fire&wings at 5:29 PM on May 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


"Maybe the penis came first and the vagina came second?"

i agree, but that's slipping out of the territory.
posted by artof.mulata at 5:29 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


emjaybee says: If men had been traded like a commodity for a few millennia, then representations of men's phalluses .... would probably be everywhere

Ever been to Washington DC? Most capital cities seem to have a few monumental penises lying around (I'm looking at you, lord nelson!)

I guess the politicians are often bought and sold, so maybe you're right.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:30 PM on May 5, 2009


I'm less concerned about why my penis is shaped as it is and more concerned about the fact that I can't seem to fit it through a door.

Your ego needs to go through first, then there is no problem.
posted by ryoshu at 5:30 PM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


You cannot walk down a street without seeing some artful representation of women's legs, hips, lips, whatever in ads or shop signs. If men had been traded like a commodity for a few millennia, then representations of men's phalluses (and butts, and calves, etc) would probably be everywhere, and the approved shape, size, and grooming of them would be up for public discussion in the way that women's breast size or choice of leg-hair grooming options is.

I blame Mount Vesuvius.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:33 PM on May 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Maybe the penis came first and the vagina came second?

Sometimes the vagina doesn't come at all.
posted by wabbittwax at 5:34 PM on May 5, 2009 [16 favorites]


Your ego needs to go through first, then there is no problem.

Exactly. Such a swelled head.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:34 PM on May 5, 2009


Uh, that falls under infidelity.

No, it doesn't. Infidelity is having sex with someone who isn't your spouse. Note the "fidel" root, meaning loyalty. Having sex with more than one man is just ... having sex with more than one man.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:35 PM on May 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


The recipe “consisted of 0.08 cups of sifted, white, unbleached flour mixed with 1.06 cups of water. This mixture was brought to a boil, simmered for 15 minutes while being stirred, and allowed to cool.”

Serves 4 or makes a wonderful side dish for 8 guests.
posted by nola at 5:41 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


An average erect penis is five inches in circumference? Okay...but doesn't it hurt when they bend the erect penis into a circle?
posted by jamstigator at 5:41 PM on May 5, 2009 [11 favorites]


Some things were pretty obvious, but I feel like I learned a lot from this article, like how to make laboratory quality synthetic semen.

I also found a new metric for determining whether or not one is having a bad day at work.

From the article:

...and baby-sat a lascivious young orangutan that liked to insert his penis in just about anything with a hole, which unfortunately one day included my ear.


So, if you are having a particularly bad day at the office, but can say to yourself, "At least an orangutan did not attempt to have intercourse with my ear," then you are still doing OK.

However, if you find yourself saying, "I'd rather be fucked in the ear by an orangutan," you may wish to seek employment elsewhere.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:42 PM on May 5, 2009 [66 favorites]


Why the Human Penis is Shaped Like That (A Just So Story)

In the High and Far-Off Times the Human Male, O Best Beloved, had no penis. He had a bulgy lump, as soft as a dumpling, that he could wriggle about from side to side; but he couldn't pick up things with it and he certainly couldn't inseminate a woman with it. But there was one boy, a too curious boy, who asked many questions, played with too many things, and who lived South Jersey. . .
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 5:44 PM on May 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: I'd rather be fucked in the ear by an orangutan
posted by jquinby at 5:45 PM on May 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Infidelity is having sex with someone who isn't your spouse. Note the "fidel" root, meaning loyalty. Having sex with more than one man is just ... having sex with more than one man.

If you're having sex with more than one man, then that would imply that none of them are your spouse and that you're not sexually loyal to any of them right?
posted by JakeEXTREME at 5:47 PM on May 5, 2009


What's a vagina?
posted by Pecinpah at 5:48 PM on May 5, 2009


I've always wondered if it is indeed visually appealing to women in the same way breasts or a vagina is visually appealing to men.

Not in the same way, but yeah.

but I can't see how a woman could possibly find a penis attractive. They're just so utilitarian, whereas every part of a womans body is akin to a work of art.

It's not just the penis, it's the whole body which often seems attractive to women, and the personality attached to the body and penis adds a lot. I've heard male bodies described, by women, as big, beautiful machines as opposed a woman's generally softer, voluptuous curves.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:50 PM on May 5, 2009


Having sex with more than one man is just ...

... another Saturday night?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:50 PM on May 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


The post had such an engaging description, and yet that article was so boring.
posted by Doohickie at 5:51 PM on May 5, 2009


Does the shape add to women's pleasure at all? And would that aid in reproductive success?

The female orgasm facilitates conception--the contractions moving sperm closer to the egg. Male sperm being "weaker," some gender-selection methods directly link female orgasm to conception of a boy.

I suspect that the female orgasm as an aid to conception has an evolutionary function relating to affection and family units, etc. But given mentruation and associated crampage and labor pain, I think we deserve to be thrown that evolutionary bone.
posted by njbradburn at 5:52 PM on May 5, 2009


Obviously the penis is shaped as it is for the purposes of reproduction and urination, but as a heterosexual man, I've always wondered if it is indeed visually appealing to women in the same way breasts or a vagina is visually appealing to men.

As Ambrosia Voyeur stated above, women can find the penis of their partner attractive, because it is associated with that particular person.

However, women aren't visually stimulated in the same way that men are. We don't just look at a random penis and immediately think it's beautiful or sexy. There needs to be some kind of narrative, some kind of history particular to that penis. We need some information about what that penis is attached to, or we'll most likely be averse to it. More information than "mwm, 42, seeks real woman for hot, discreet NSA encounters. Can't host."
posted by louche mustachio at 5:52 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I like that the only "reasons" a woman would have sex with more than one man were "rape" and "infidelity." What if she just wanted to, and no one gave her shit about who she slept with? I know, crazy! Women--they hate sex!"

You seem to have skipped right over "promiscuity".
posted by kavasa at 5:57 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think we deserve to be thrown that evolutionary bone.

er, they're not exactly detachable.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:03 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that they state the penis developed its distinctive shape prior to humans becoming monogamous, as what this means is that human females were once normally promiscuous, because male promiscuity alone wouldn't cause this development. Female promiscuity is potentially a really powerful tool when combined with lack of estrus, allowing females to be sexually receptive to all males, yet disguise the actual chances of successful reproduction. If all the males in a group are both sexually satisified and unable to identify their offspring from another's, it would make for a pretty peaceful social setup. The corona of the human penis is a somewhat desperate attempt by males to assert their ability to control reproduction.

So, in short, we create sexual utopia, and you destroy it with your wee wees. Tsk.




Maybe it's just my rampant heterosexuality talking, but I can't see how a woman could possibly find a penis attractive.

Just a penis? No, not for me, or at least not in the same way a het guy can get hot looking at decontexted parts of female bodies. There needs to be something more...motorbikes are good...yeah, penis + motorbike, that about works.
posted by Sova at 6:04 PM on May 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


Penises.

You know what was funny? An elephant jerked off in front of me today. No shit.

I was at the zoo, and their young bull elephant went to the bathroom rather loudly, and then rubbed its human-arm-sized penis between its legs, and the thing TWITCHED. Poor thing had blue balls though because he didn't ejaculate.

I felt a bit violated. :P
posted by kldickson at 6:04 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


evolutionary bone

rimshot
posted by mwhybark at 6:05 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you're having sex with more than one man, then that would imply that none of them are your spouse and that you're not sexually loyal to any of them right?

Yeah, that's kind of what I was saying there. "Infidelity" is under the category of "multiple sexual partners", but it isn't the only situation in which you'd have multiple sexual partners.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:06 PM on May 5, 2009


er, they're not exactly detachable.
Ah, that King Missile classic...
posted by njbradburn at 6:07 PM on May 5, 2009


Why is the penis shaped like that?

To give women something to laugh at and/or kick, otherwise they would have killed us all already.
posted by loquacious at 6:09 PM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is an old concep...rebranded. Read about this years ago...I wonder if it is plagiarized.
posted by Chuffy at 6:18 PM on May 5, 2009


That author just invited me to use my imagination to "reverse engineer" what a penis should look like. Man, that's a pretty fancy penis I'm seeing here.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:21 PM on May 5, 2009


We need some information about what that penis is attached to, or we'll most likely be averse to it.

I would say ambivalent rather than averse. We need a personal attachment to the attachment.
posted by misha at 6:22 PM on May 5, 2009


It's only infidelity if monogamy is considered important in a given group of people, which it may not always have been. You can call it promiscuity if you like, I suppose, so long as you apply the same semi-judgemental tone to men having multiple partners.

Is there an evolutionary advantage to women having multiple partners? And now that we're asking it, isn't it odd that genders seem to have this power struggle over who determines reproduction, considering that they're both in the same species? Like so many of our "natural" behaviors, these seem to have become maladaptive at some point. So we have not just the sperm-flushing plunger-penis, but patriarchy itself.

I think these evo-psych types of speculations often have the tendency to be justifications for The Way Things Are, but they are much more interesting if you look at a given behavior as something we have to take into account in order to defeat it, like prejudice against outsiders or fear of new ideas. Birth control has made sperm-battles somewhat moot, and maybe we can move past the male obsession with controlling female sexual behavior some day also.
posted by emjaybee at 6:23 PM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


The entire article is patent nonsense. Peniseses are shaped like that because that's the best shape for pounding a six-inch spike through a board.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:23 PM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Questions not asked:

Does using a fake porn-store vagina really replicate an actual one?


I think there's a reason that question is going unasked, dear. I mean, I know "there is no such thing as a stupid question," and all... but really? In Scientific American, at least, I hope to never see that question addressed. I think there may be other publications which can feign naivete long enough to sustain an "Experiment" to that effect.

Also acceptable, for visually pleasurable potential: Mythbusters.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:25 PM on May 5, 2009


Maybe the penis came first and the vagina came second?

....Actually, no. In birds, both genders essentially have a vagina. I also don't recall hearing that fish have penes, nor amphibians. Some snakes and lizards do, however, but they're concealed in a pouch in the body -- only extending during mating.

...I have absolutely no idea how I know this, by the way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:27 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


If men had been traded like a commodity for a few millennia, then representations of men's phalluses (and butts, and calves, etc) would probably be everywhere, and the approved shape, size, and grooming of them would be up for public discussion in the way that women's breast size or choice of leg-hair grooming options is.

Ancient Greek art.

But the objectifying was still done by other men, as far as I know.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:27 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Remember when Reader's Digest stopped being frumpy survival stories and lame Humor in Uniform and started to sell Sex Secrets and Tips to Drive Your Man Wild on the cover? This is the Scientific American equivalent. Also it's an entire article about the shape of the penis without a single illustration of same?
posted by Nelson at 6:28 PM on May 5, 2009


"blissfully monogamous". What?
posted by mnb64 at 6:39 PM on May 5, 2009


You're pretty much right about the birds there, EmpressC–they generally have a cloaca, a multi-purpose USB bio-port for waste, semen, etc, but swans and probably some relatives have penises. And I really don't know why I know that about swans...

Also, I love my penis a little more every day.
posted by Mister_A at 6:40 PM on May 5, 2009


If all the males in a group are both sexually satisified and unable to identify their offspring from another's, it would make for a pretty peaceful social setup.

Until a male shows up with a distinctive trait which is heritable and obvious in his offspring.

Such as a different skin color in a previously monochromatic population, say.

Then that male's children, particularly the males, become prime candidates for infanticidal attacks by all the other males.

So racism of the American variety can be seen as an adaptation which increases the fitness of the group as a whole (infanticide of this kind is definitely a negative sum game) in a context in which infanticide is a significant possibility.
posted by jamjam at 6:43 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


AV, did you really call me "dear"? Wow. You know, nudging and winking aside, pointing out that a vagina is an organ that is more complicated than a latex bag from Bob's Porn Emporium is not naive, it's...pointing out that a vagina is an organ more complicated than a latex bag from Bob's Porn Emporium. Especially if said study is about the physics of actual penises inside actual vaginas.

How you would construct such an experiment would be challenging, of course, and yes great fodder for the jokes about schlongs and ladybits that we love here on the Blue, but it might still be scientifically worthwhile.
posted by emjaybee at 6:53 PM on May 5, 2009


Remember when Reader's Digest stopped being frumpy survival stories and lame Humor in Uniform and started to sell Sex Secrets and Tips to Drive Your Man Wild on the cover?

I haven't seen a Reader's Digest in 20 years. Please tell me you're joking, not that I liked it much the old way, either.
posted by maxwelton at 6:54 PM on May 5, 2009


"Long as my arm, five times as thick, you'll die at the end of my IRON DICK!"

You really have to love early /.
posted by CountSpatula at 7:08 PM on May 5, 2009


I've always wondered if it is indeed visually appealing to women in the same way breasts or a vagina is visually appealing to men.

Maybe not appealing to all women, but it is to this woman. I enjoy seeing the whole package and just the package.
posted by obol at 7:09 PM on May 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


I love my penis a little more every day.

Regular yoga practice will do that for you.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:09 PM on May 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


It was an interesting article but it didn't really explain why humans specifically would have their particular penis shape in contrast with other primates. It seemed to me that all the evolutionary justifications for the pumping action etc. could just as well apply to chimpanzees.
Well, that's backwards, though. "Why is ours like this" is a fundamentally different question than "why isn't theirs like this", even if it's determined that ours being like this is useful to us.

Chimpanzees can't run all the live long day, and humans can't swing from tree to tree. Both of these abilities are useful.
posted by Flunkie at 7:15 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


if you look at a given behavior as something we have to take into account in order to defeat it

YOU WILL NEVER DEFEAT MY PLUNGER PENIS!
posted by tkchrist at 7:24 PM on May 5, 2009


On the difficulties of researching the real thing: Dutch researcher Pek van Andel received the 2000 Ig Nobel prize for his research Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Male and Female Genitals During Coitus and Female Sexual Arousal.
I seem to recall that he ended up getting fired for his insistence to keep using magnetic resonance machines for this. But I couldn't find a quote for that.
posted by jouke at 7:29 PM on May 5, 2009


comment that references the shape of my phallus, implying impossible geometries.

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh MyPenis R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn."
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:33 PM on May 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


Why is the penis shaped like that?

Well, just look what happens with a corkscrew-shaped penis.
posted by homunculus at 7:36 PM on May 5, 2009


Q: How big is yours?

A: 10

Q: 10 inches!?

A: Inches? No! Centimetres. I'm Canadian.
posted by juiceCake at 7:55 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


However, women aren't visually stimulated in the same way that men are. We don't just look at a random penis and immediately think it's beautiful or sexy. There needs to be some kind of narrative, some kind of history particular to that penis. We need some information about what that penis is attached to, or we'll most likely be averse to it. More information than "mwm, 42, seeks real woman for hot, discreet NSA encounters. Can't host."

What?

I like looking at dick.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:00 PM on May 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


You know, that's not how Gallup poles usually work.
posted by MrVisible at 8:32 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is all speculation and guessing. The Phrenology of our age. Made up.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:36 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing there's no comment I can make in this thread that won't be construed as eponysterical, huh?
posted by the_bone at 8:41 PM on May 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


and baby-sat a lascivious young orangutan that liked to insert his penis in just about anything with a hole, which unfortunately one day included my ear.

I know people say "I almost spit all over my keyboard" all the time to the point of cliche, but I really did almost accidentally spew out some milk just now. It was really close, and containing it caused some discomfort.

The really beautiful thing about evolutionary psychology is that you don’t have to believe it’s true for it to work precisely this way. Natural selection doesn’t much mind if you favor an alternative explanation for why you get so randy upon being reunited with your partner. Your penis will go about its business of displacing sperm regardless.

Being an evolutionary psychologist seems like a dream job. I wonder if it is too late in life for a career change?
posted by Ynoxas at 8:46 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


This article just makes me sad for the old, great glorious articles they used to have in Scientific American.
posted by storybored at 8:50 PM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Follow up article by the same author, directly speaking with Gallup.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:56 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


ok, I find most evolutionary psychology to be crap and here's why. Maybe the penis came first and the vagina came second?

Nope, even if the different evolutionary links we've got right here in our world today didn't disprove this, a little bit of logic can. Reproductively, the female anatomy is designed to incubate the child within the warm, protected confines of the body. Very clear evolutionary advantage to this. Additionally, the vagina then, if nothing else, would at least be incidental to the fact that the womb exists, because there's gotta be an entrance point somewhere. The [enis, on the other hand, has no evolutionary advantage, reproductive or otherwise, that doesn't have to do with it's effectiveness in sperm-delivery during vaginal sex.

I'd be interested to hear your alternative penis-comes-first theory, though.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:10 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was going to mention that this ties in nicely with the "killer sperm" theory. Some years ago it was suggested that between 83-99% of human sperm were killer sperm which sought out and killed other sperm with a poison or enzyme. There was also talk of "blocker sperm" which sought out and occupied nooks and cavities in the vagina so they wouldn't be taken up by rival sperm (sounds like an American football game, doesn't it?). But apparently this theory has been ruled out by further research:

This study examines one of the possible mechanisms of sperm competition, i.e. the kamikaze sperm hypothesis. This hypothesis states that sperm from different males interact to incapacitate each other in a variety of ways. We used ejaculates from human donors to compare mixes of semen in vitro from the same or different males. We measured the following parameters: (i) the degree of sperm aggregation, velocity and proportion of morphologically normal sperm after 1 and 3 h incubation in undiluted semen samples, (ii) the proportion of viable sperm plus the same parameters as in (i) in 'swim-up' sperm suspensions after 1 and 3 h incubation, (iii) the degree of self and non-self sperm aggregation using fluorescent dyes to distinguish the sperm of different males, and (iv) the extent of sperm capacitation and acrosome-reacted sperm in mixtures of sperm from the same and different males. We observed very few significant changes in sperm aggregation or performance in mixtures of sperm from different males compared with mixtures from the same male and none that were consistent with previously reported findings. The incapacitation of rival sperm therefore seems an unlikely mechanism of sperm competition in humans.

-- H D Moore, M Martin, and T R Birkhead, University of Sheffield, UK.


But testes size does seem to be affected by promiscuity/infidelity, according to this Wiki article:

Selection to produce more sperm can also select for the evolution of larger testes. Relationships across species between the frequency of multiple mating by females and male testis size are well documented across many groups of animals, notable primates: female gorillas are relatively monogamous, so gorillas have smaller testes than humans, which in turn have smaller testes than the highly promiscuous bonobos (Harcourt et al (1981)). Male chimpanzees that live in a structured multi-male, multi-female community, have large testicles to produce more sperm, therefore giving him better odds to fertilize the female. Whereas the community of gorillas consist of one alpha male and two or three females, when the female gorillas are ready to mate, normally only the alpha male is their partner. Other means of sperm competition could include improving the sperm itself or its packaging materials (spermatophore). [5]

The male black-winged damselfly provides a striking example of an adaptation to sperm competition. Female black-winged damselflies are known to mate with several males over the span of a only a few hours and therefore possess a receptacle known as a spermatheca which stores the sperm. During the process of mating the male damselfly will pump his abdomen up and down using his specially adapted penis which acts as a scrub brush to remove the sperm of another male. This method proves quite successful and the male damselfly has been known to remove 90-100 percent of the competing sperm [6] .

posted by Devils Slide at 9:15 PM on May 5, 2009


emjaybee, forgive me if I was incorrect in reading your initial "experiment" as something of a glory-hole Pepsi Challenge and responded with astonished derision over the notion of vaginas having, in those circumstances, questionable status in terms of discernibility from silicone sacs.

If you're positing that penises and vaginas individually behave during coitus in ways they would not when artificially stimulated with identical proxies, well, my sense is the differences have been pretty well observed, with all manner of experiential and proper scientific study alike. Take my prostaglandin example, above. To that, I will add that the penis' shape does encourage g-spot stimulation to a minor extent, as the corona exerts pressure on the interior of the vaginal opening on the outstroke, and that leads to orgasm which leads to increased fertility.

But to add a wrinkle to your assessment, "gripping" is not only a factor of female pleasure, as any vaginismus sufferer would attest.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:25 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing there's no comment I can make in this thread that won't be construed as eponysterical, huh?
posted by the_bone


Eponysexual?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:31 PM on May 5, 2009


To put it another way, Bluesky43, I don't know how long of a time there existed between the invention of the cork and the invention of the corkscrew. TO me, one doesn't serve a lot of purpose without the other. However, the cork serves at least ONE purpose (preserving wine) that has nothing to do with the corkscrew, while the corkscrew had to have been specifically designed for the removal of corks. It's the same with penii and vaginas.

That said, having had the chance to read the article now (this was definitely a post where my instinct was to check out the comments first) this makes a deal of sense to me. Like DU, this was strangely a question I'd never really given thought to until this very morning, and now this comes along. Synchronicity! Or something! Anyway...

I'm okay with the fact that the paper doesn't explain why our other primate brethren have small, dissimilar phalluses - evolution works by the random chance of mutation, and doesn't move forward with a specific gameplan, much as some seem to act like it does. Rather, what I realy feel like is missing here is something showing how, exactly, other species have evolved in other ways in this regard, and the advantages they've gained along the way as a result.

Not holding my breath, but it'd be cool.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:41 PM on May 5, 2009


The penis, on the other hand, has no evolutionary advantage, reproductive or otherwise, that doesn't have to do with it's effectiveness in sperm-delivery during vaginal sex.

What bollocks. Being able to stand upright while peeing allows you to look out more effectively for predators & prey.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:43 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ohhh, emjaybee, my SO has just provided a different reading of your comment which makes more sense in comparison with the semen displacement experiment performed in the article, a comparison I had not presumed. So if you were positing that vaginas might have different semen-retention capabilities than sleeves, oh okay maybe, certainly variously.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:44 PM on May 5, 2009


If one were to examine the penis objectively...

Welcome to my life.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:51 PM on May 5, 2009


I got as far as ...But according to evolutionary psychologist-- BYOO! BYOO! BYOO! Post hoc ergo propter hoc bullshit approaching! BYOO! BYOO! BYOO!
posted by Methylviolet at 9:53 PM on May 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


What bollocks.

heh.

Being able to stand upright while peeing allows you to look out more effectively for predators & prey.

Pretty sure the penis predates the homo erectus.

(also, yes, I know you're joking.)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:55 PM on May 5, 2009


So, shouldn't circumcised men be more potent, then, what with the corona and glans operating purely the way nature intended, without the foreskin obscuring their purpose?
posted by Rumple at 9:56 PM on May 5, 2009


So, shouldn't circumcised men be more potent, then, what with the corona and glans operating purely the way nature intended, without the foreskin obscuring their purpose?

I wondered about that too, but I think the idea is that the foreskin folds back on the upthrust, and forward on the downthrust, thus "capturing" rival semen and removing it.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:02 PM on May 5, 2009


upthrust and downthrust are relative to the vagina, not the mattress, I trust
posted by Rumple at 10:05 PM on May 5, 2009


Todays condition I didn't need to know about: human heteroparity. Man I'd like to see the blow up when some angsty teen finds out their fraternal sibling is their half-sibling.
posted by Mitheral at 10:05 PM on May 5, 2009


Pretty sure the penis predates the homo erectus.

That may be true, but homos also predate upon the penis erectus.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:07 PM on May 5, 2009 [14 favorites]


"Being able to stand upright while peeing allows you to look out more effectively for predators & prey."

You don't need a penis for that.
posted by Mitheral at 10:12 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


That may be true, but homos also predate upon the penis erectus.

Dammit, Ubu, I can't compete with that.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:19 PM on May 5, 2009


Maybe not appealing to all women, but it is to this woman. I enjoy seeing the whole package and just the package.
posted by obol at 10:09 PM on May 5


I like looking at dick.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:00 PM on May 5


On behalf of all men raised with negative self-images about their genitalia, God Bless You Both.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:24 PM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dammit, Ubu, I can't compete with that.

hey, it's not a pissing competition.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:26 PM on May 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


What bollocks. Being able to stand upright while peeing allows you to look out more effectively for predators & prey.

Further studies conclude that being able to write one's name in the snow furthered the development of language skills, which lent offspring a distinct survival advantage. This is true, because I posted this on Wikipedia earlier today.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:32 PM on May 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


So, shouldn't circumcised men be more potent, then, what with the corona and glans operating purely the way nature intended, without the foreskin obscuring their purpose?

Except the foreskin was provided by nature and then removed surgically. How is that "how nature intended it?"

and...foreskins don't obscure "the purpose."
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:33 PM on May 5, 2009


What?

I like looking at dick.


Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that dick can't be fun to look at. However, we respond to visual stimuli in a different way than men do. I think women need the dick to have some context in order to find it arousing. It can involve constructing a backstory for the dick in one's own mind; who the dick belongs to, what the dick has done, what the dick can do for you.

But then there's this:
Your penis will go about its business of displacing sperm regardless.

...just sort of doing its thing, you know, penis stuff. Mind of its own. Displacing sperm. Sending pictures of itself to random women. Running errands.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:38 PM on May 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


a lascivious young orangutan that liked to insert his penis in just about anything with a hole, which unfortunately one day included my ear.

So, the orangutan was from Nantucket?
posted by dirigibleman at 10:47 PM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I once spent a summer with a 450-pound silverback gorilla that was hung like a wasp"

Oh my God, please. Muffy and I were just discussing that over a dry one on the veranda, I can't believe they're letting their type in the club at South Hampton. Next they'll be yachting with the Forbes'
posted by Smedleyman at 11:10 PM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Very informal! I expected the article to be less educational, I like your sense of humor.
posted by eiro0701 at 11:21 PM on May 5, 2009


so if this is such an effective evolutionary strategy, shouldn't it pop up through out sexually reproduction dependent animals? So okay, maybe our other primate relatives missed the boat, but given that there are millions of species that use sex to reproduce it seems like there's a good chance that a few thousand with similar rates of sexual partners to humans, would come up with this strategy as well. Creating a study that links sexual partner frequency across species with penis shape would be a tad bit more convincing to me.
posted by nangua at 12:02 AM on May 6, 2009


We don't just look at a random penis and immediately think it's beautiful or sexy.

Hence the disappointing lack of heterosexual glory holes.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:11 AM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, really? I thought that was just because the wall between Mens' and Womens' is thicker than the dividers between stalls.
posted by contraption at 12:28 AM on May 6, 2009


However, we respond to visual stimuli in a different way than men do. I think women need the dick to have some context in order to find it arousing.

I can only provide my own experience but as a male I find that my sexuality functions very similarly. Simple nudity is not in itself arousing without some minimal context.
It is difficult to self analyse this because I feel I am influenced by thoughts about how I SHOULD act in response to nude females.
Nude beaches are not especially erotic places to many people yet the majority view of the population seems to be that it is a sexually charged place. Whether this is due to a culturally enforced view or it is more primal I don't know.

A different subject; The part of the article where they studied the effects of suspicion of another man having had sex with the female he was sexually involved with was interesting.
According to the study this suspicion leads to sex with deeper thrusting by the male, which should, according to this theory, lead to greater likelyhood of displacing the foreign sperm. This provides a theoretical reason for the fairly common fetish of cuckolding, where the concept of female infidelity or promiscuity is sexually arousing to the male.
Normally fetishes are not thought to have a particular evolutionary purpose, or it has not been possible to come up with a good theory for them, but here is one possibility for one fetish.
posted by Catfry at 12:41 AM on May 6, 2009


cock push-ups.
posted by autodidact at 1:43 AM on May 6, 2009


"Why is the penis shaped like that?"

Is it Ghostbusters 2?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 3:32 AM on May 6, 2009


I'VE GOT A SPECIAL PURPOSE!!!!!
posted by punkfloyd at 4:26 AM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


What?

I like looking at dick.


So what you're saying is women are different on the individual level?! My god, the implications!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:19 AM on May 6, 2009


You may be surprised to discover just how highly specialized a tool it is.

No I wouldn't. I mean, it can only be used for two things. That sounds pretty specialized to me.
posted by hifiparasol


Only two things? Clearly you aren't using it right.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:27 AM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


So what you're saying is women are different on the individual level?! My god, the implications!

Tell me about it! It's AMAZING! ^_^
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:55 AM on May 6, 2009


Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that dick can't be fun to look at. However, we respond to visual stimuli in a different way than men do. I think women need the dick to have some context in order to find it arousing. It can involve constructing a backstory for the dick in one's own mind; who the dick belongs to, what the dick has done, what the dick can do for you.

Generalizations like this bother me because it's not, and has never been true, for me. Sure, I sometimes like reading erotica. But sometimes I also look at straight up porno photos, without a context and without a backstory, or any sort of "construction" of one. We're talking straight-up, purely visual objectification here. I don't need a backstory for the dick, or need to imagine what the dick can do for me. I like looking at them, and have since I was about twelve. "Women are like x" implies that women who aren't are somehow abnormal or unnatural. I don't doubt that some women do find context necessary. I don't. So I wonder about all the evolutionary psychobabble connected with that sort of thing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:00 AM on May 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Oh, and I meant the evolutionary psychobabble about women's arousal (women need a context because they need to know a man can provide for their babies, or whatever), not the evolutionary psychobabble of the article.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:02 AM on May 6, 2009


Tell me about it! It's AMAZING! ^_^

From the ice-age to the dole-age
There is but one concern
I have just discovered :

Some girls are bigger than others
Some girls are bigger than others
Some girl's mothers are bigger than
Other girl's mothers
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:06 AM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


girls'

*stupid pasting without proofreading*

posted by UbuRoivas at 6:10 AM on May 6, 2009


hahaha he said 'penis' lol
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:23 AM on May 6, 2009


...something of a glory-hole Pepsi Challenge

"We are here at Treasure Chest Adult Novelties, where we've secretly replaced the fine orifices they usually have kneeling in the back booths with Folgers Crystals. Let's see if anyone can tell the difference!"
posted by waraw at 6:42 AM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Navelgazer: Maybe the penis came first and the vagina came second?

Nope, even if the different evolutionary links we've got right here in our world today didn't disprove this, a little bit of logic can. Reproductively, the female anatomy is designed to incubate the child within the warm, protected confines of the body.

No, actually, the penis did apparently come before the placental womb, as both egg-laying and marsupial mammals have them as well. Analogous organs exist throughout the animal kingdom, so the argument that a penis is specifically an anatomical adaptation to placental reproduction is dubious.

louise mustachio: However, we respond to visual stimuli in a different way than men do.

Bullshit.

PhoBWanKenobi: Generalizations like this bother me because it's not, and has never been true, for me. Sure, I sometimes like reading erotica. But sometimes I also look at straight up porno photos, without a context and without a backstory, or any sort of "construction" of one. We're talking straight-up, purely visual objectification here. I don't need a backstory for the dick, or need to imagine what the dick can do for me. I like looking at them, and have since I was about twelve. "Women are like x" implies that women who aren't are somehow abnormal or unnatural. I don't doubt that some women do find context necessary. I don't. So I wonder about all the evolutionary psychobabble connected with that sort of thing.

I mostly agree. Porn does, in general, construct a context for the images as being related to sexual activity. And anyone who has hung out around nudists or done significant work in health care knows that nudity is not an automatic turn-on devoid of context. In spite of the silly fears of straights regarding LGBT people in their bathrooms and communal showers, there is a big difference between a naked body, and a naked body with a "come here and fuck me" expression.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:21 AM on May 6, 2009


The real question is, why do my balls have to live in a sack that dangles from my body?
posted by orme at 8:46 AM on May 6, 2009


Temperature regulation.

Also, humility.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:58 AM on May 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sperm or the sperm makers, can't remember which, needs a slightly lower temperature than that of the body. A sack allows them to dangle away from the body and be a bit cooler.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:01 AM on May 6, 2009


Here's more details, with a slightly NSFW image.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:05 AM on May 6, 2009


so if this is such an effective evolutionary strategy, shouldn't it pop up through out sexually reproduction dependent animals?

Yes, except for one thing: most animals have an estrous period during which is the ONLY time the female will allow coupling, and often once the deed is done, there is no more willingness from the female to allow further penetration.

Humans are (not unique but) special in that they are sexually interested and willing even outside of those periods of fertility, which would more readily to needing a penis that also acts as a primitive fluid-removal pump.
posted by hippybear at 9:34 AM on May 6, 2009


Metafilter: a penis that also acts as a primitive fluid-removal pump
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:51 AM on May 6, 2009


louise mustachio: However, we respond to visual stimuli in a different way than men do.

Bullshit


That's a pretty big "bullshit" claim to make KirkJobSluder. Especially with no proof.

You are genuinely saying there is NO DIFFERENCE in how each of the sexes processes sexual imagery?

I think the advertising, television, film, and pornography industries would all be eager to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:56 AM on May 6, 2009


Yes, except for one thing: most animals have an estrous period during which is the ONLY time the female will allow coupling, and often once the deed is done, there is no more willingness from the female to allow further penetration.

i think the scientific term for this is "date night."

You are genuinely saying there is NO DIFFERENCE in how each of the sexes processes sexual imagery?

I think the advertising, television, film, and pornography industries would all be eager to subscribe to your newsletter.


Ah, but which came first the chicken or the egg, or in this case the male gaze (how I do hate that sexist term) or the social constructs around the male gaze?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:04 AM on May 6, 2009


Ynoxas: That's a pretty big "bullshit" claim to make KirkJobSluder. Especially with no proof.

As if, anyone has offered much in the way of evidence, much less "proof" in this discussion.

You are genuinely saying there is NO DIFFERENCE in how each of the sexes processes sexual imagery?

Generally speaking, the studies in question greatly exaggerate statistically significant differences between the means while ignoring massive within-group variance. Take for example, this meta-analysis of gender differences in regards to mathematics. Specifically in regards to sexual response to stimuli this meta-study found that effect sizes were moderate, and the magnitude effect size was strongly influenced by environmental factors. The end result being that environmental factors may be synergistic with biological sex.

Will I say there is NO DIFFERENCE, of course not. Does the evidence currently support primarily biological "mars/venus" hypothesis that there are fundamental differences in the way in which men and women are wired wrt cognition? Not strongly.

I think the advertising, television, film, and pornography industries would all be eager to subscribe to your newsletter.

Well, let's critically examine that. Are we talking about the same television industry that built an entire episode of Lost around Josh Holloway fanservice? Wait, are we talking about a pornography industry in which women's sex-toy stores do a brisk business in video? And exactly who were all of those Fabio-derived covers supposed to appeal to? Didn't we just run a FPP about the growing number of women who use gay porn (ala Cyndi Lauper), which usually has minimal pretense of a relationship? And before you make the claim that this is all a post-feminist phenomenon, go out sometime and pick up some old material by Memphis Minnie.

Do I feel reasonably confidant in my position that not only do many women get off on visual stimuli, they are also producers and consumers of it in our current market. Yes.

Do I feel reasonably confidant in my position that the neo-Victorian pop-psych view that women just don't get off on eye-candy unless they sublimate it into hardwired drives for a long-term reproductive relationship is bullshit. Yes.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:53 AM on May 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Pollomacho: Ah, but which came first the chicken or the egg, or in this case the male gaze (how I do hate that sexist term) or the social constructs around the male gaze?

Of course, the people who first proposed the male gaze were strict social constructionists.

But the myth that women just don't get off on visual stimuli hasn't been universally accepted in history. Shakespeare was rather fond of having heroines fall deeply in love at first sight, (Viola and Juliet come promptly to mind). Ezekiel chapter 23 has a vivid description of Jerusalem as a prostitute who is so smitten by pictures of foreign men that she courts them through writing. At various points in history, women have been considered to be more earthy and lusty than men.

And in fact, the ev-psych gender yahoos will argue both sides depending on whichever is rhetorically convenient. They will argue both that women are hardwired to consider sexuality in terms of child-rearing relationships, and argue that women are hardwired to boink any man with a signifier of reproductive fitness. So we have the madonna/whore syndrome nicely wrapped up in a single discipline with pretentions of science.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:20 AM on May 6, 2009


Awww. The best part was linking over to the image of the cross-sections - if any fellows did, bet it made you squirm just slightly! Thinking of cross-sectioning the wang and all...

The "men are turned on by what they see and women not so much" is so much generalized gibberish. There are plenty of men and women alike who rely on visual stimuli for the gettin' busy. However, there are plenty of men and women who have it all in their brains some other way. Their mate du jour could resemble a sort of over-large squashed frog and it wouldn't impede their sexual desire for said mate, or at least, not much.
posted by PuppyCat at 11:49 AM on May 6, 2009


...and then there are the ones that get off on images of over-large squashed frogs...
posted by Pollomacho at 11:53 AM on May 6, 2009


And wait a minute, wasn't the recent hive-mind wisdom that women get wet and ready at the mere visual or audible hint of sex?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:15 PM on May 6, 2009


Wait, they don't?

You mean all those porn films I've seen might be inaccurate?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:53 PM on May 6, 2009


Why is the penis shaped like that?

All the better to deliver my genetic package, my dear.
posted by hot soup girl at 1:26 PM on May 6, 2009


I used to think that penises weren't inherently attractive. Turns out, it's just that many of them aren't (at least, to me). And wow.

So, if you think your penis is unattractive, maybe you're right. But you're only talking about you.
posted by Salamandrous at 1:28 PM on May 6, 2009


Todays condition I didn't need to know about: human heteroparity. Man I'd like to see the blow up when some angsty teen finds out their fraternal sibling is their half-sibling.

It gets better. Chimerism is when two eggs are fertilised at the same time and, instead of producing fraternal twins, fuse together to make one embryo. Most of the time the embryo doesn't survive, but many do and grow up to be normal (although probably infertile) adults. So maybe it's possible to combine human heteroparity with chimerism to unwittingly create a child with one mother and two biological fathers?

Now that is an episode of Jerry Springer I'd tune in to.
posted by metaBugs at 2:05 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


i know am late to the party but wanted to add my take on testicles.
posted by liza at 1:02 AM on May 7, 2009


"Now that is an episode of Jerry Springer I'd tune in to."


Not "real life" like Jerry but it's been done in a number of TV dramas and other works of fiction .
posted by Carbolic at 2:10 PM on May 12, 2009


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