Yesterday, a story from NBCNews.com entitled, “Science proves women like men with bigger penises,” traveled ‘round the Internet and back again.
Ahh penis size. Scientists (and countless “Sex and the City” episodes) have long debated whether it really matters. No surprise, most of the experiments have been criticized for bias. This time, in an apparent attempt to settle the “Is bigger really better?” question once and for all, researchers from Australian National University created 49 computer-generated life-sized male figures. The fake guys were all naked, and they varied in height, shoulder-to-hip ratio, and penis size. Previous studies (and every Hollywood movie and major magazine) have shown that women prefer the Michael Phelps-type as ideal—we like taller guys with strong, wide shoulders and slim hips. Would adding a (flaccid) penis really change that at all.
The researchers then had around 100 women view each figure and rate its attractiveness. Interestingly enough, they found that overall penis size was a key factor in whether women thought a figure was attractive—as penis size increased to up 3 inches, the attractiveness score increased in a linear fashion. Women also spent more time looking at the figures with the bigger goodies. The conclusion? “Our results support the hypothesis that female mate choice could have driven the evolution of larger penises in humans.”
Evolution, it would seem, is a size queen.
But what is this study really telling us? Sure, the idea that evolution selected larger penises to help promote mating and babies makes sense, but this study still lacks validity.
The biggest problem? Even though women are happy to ogle Ryan Lochte, plenty of men without his body type—even when we ignore penis size—still manage to find mates and procreate. Even George Costanza. Just because women tend to find a particular body type more attractive doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the body type we’ll find ourselves attracted to. The same goes for penises.
Second problem: they were flaccid. Anyone who’s met a “grower not a shower” knows that sometimes a penis can have a pretty impressive size secret. So while a larger member may be some kind of evolutionary invitation, you’re not gonna see the whole package until you’ve seen it erect.
When all is said and done, all penis studies are doomed because they don’t reflect real life. We don’t choose our mates in some kind of Magic Mike-esque situation. Men don’t walk around waggling their penises at us (well, not at first, one hopes). Heck, we don’t even necessarily see a penis until we’re already pretty smitten. Women build an attraction based on many factors. Like, oh, say, personality, charm, smell, voice and movement.
So, to my mind, science hasn’t “proved” anything regarding penis size. But it HAS given us all something to talk about this week.