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Women, We Should Maybe Be Nicer About Penises

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stamp of approval - approved, rejectedThis week, a new study came out about penises. It concluded that size does matter, at least to the same extent that physical appearance matters, which is to say “sort of,” but also “ultimately not that much.” (The conclusions overall were pretty flimsy, as we discuss here.) Around 100 Australian women were asked to rate their level of attraction to computer-generated male figures, and for some, bigger penis size proved to be as important a factor as height. (Though not as important as shoulder to hip ratio.)

Ok so, when given the choice, it seems that women do prefer a bigger package. But, I mean, I’d also prefer a Gregory Peck lookalike with an encyclopedic knowledge of The West Wing. There’s a big difference between theoretical preference and what’s actually going to affect your dating life. Chances are, the size of someone’s flaccid penis isn’t going to have a noticeable impact on whether a woman gives him her number.

The only thing this and scores of other penis studies could affect (not in their findings, but in their widespread publication) is, honestly, male self-esteem. A study proclaiming that “MEN PREFER X SHAPE OF VAGINA” or “BIGGER BOOBS ARE BETTER, SAYS SCIENCE” is unthinkable. There would be indignation and outrage — and yet descriptions of penises (and the importance of their relative sizes) range from the derisive to the bemused. An NBC News article on the size study opens with the sentence: “The human male possesses the Italian designer faucet of penises.” Funny, but also telling: an article about the female body would never start by comparing it to a faucet, designer or not.

Too often, women are judgmental or dismissive of a penis, partly because it’s never really been drummed into us that a penis is anything to be effusive about.

We’re taught from an early age to see the female form as beautiful and desirable. As problematic as that may be in terms of body pressure, women KNOW without a doubt that men like seeing them naked. But can men feel as confident saying the reverse is true?

They wouldn’t, if they heard some women talk about penises behind closed doors. While most women appreciate the utilitarian function of the male sexual organ, its appearance is hardly praised in casual conversation. (“Fleshy”, “wobbly”, “vein-y”, and “purple” are all words that come up a lot.)

Of course, it’s not necessary, really, for women to be turned on by the mere sight of a male member. We have plenty of other assets available to turn us on. But too often, women are judgmental or dismissive of a penis, partly because it’s never really been drummed into us that a penis is anything to be effusive about. Oh sure, some women are, and sometimes it’s polite to be. But it isn’t rude to not say anything, it’s perfectly fine to just…put up with it.

No wonder guys feel insecure about their bodies. And no wonder the hopelessly tired “Does size matter??” debate never goes away.

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The Body Acceptance movement seems stronger than ever among women — we’re working hard to prove that our bodies (and breasts, and vaginas) are beautiful in any form, shape, or size. But while men certainly don’t face the amount of body pressure that women do (at least penises are hidden 99.9% of the time!), socially-condoned body negativity — of any type, any gender — is bad for everyone.

Chiara Atik (@chiaraatik) writes for The Date Report and other publications. Her first book, Modern Dating: A Field Guide, is available for pre-order now, on shelves May 1.