For some men, there is a great mystery around their sexual health and identity, the penis itself and, in particular male sexual abilities. Most of these beliefs are based on misinformation and perpetuated by men, in an attempt to fulfil an entirely false premise about themselves.
A man MUST have a large penis, is probably the most common of these false beliefs, and has led to many men having great anxiety about their abilities to perform sexually.
These fears transcend sexuality and are common in, both straight, gay and bisexual men.
Abilities at sexual performance are also the corner stone of this self-deceit, for some males. In many arenas of western society these myths are given new life with every generation, and remain, in many cases un-challenged.
- Adult penis size is usually about 6cm to 10cm, (2½ to 4 inches) long when soft, and about 12cm to 19cm (4½ to 7 inches) long when hard or erect.
- The thickness of a man’s erect penis is usually about 3 to 4 cm (1 ½ inches) in diameter.
These are medically based facts, and yet this still remains one of the most common questions asked by males of themselves. Almost without exception, at some point in their physical development, young men will be concerned about penis size. Is it long enough, is it thick enough, hairy enough, too hairy, should I be circumcised, how do I compare to others, will I be hard enough and so on. For some, these thoughts and anxieties pass off with time and experience, but for others they may continue on into adulthood and may also become part of a larger, mental health issue.
The origins of this myth are not so easy to identify, but the fact remains that this false belief is as real to young men today as it was in the past.
It may be possible to identify some factors that may contribute to this belief in our society today. For example, if a young male uses pornography for the purposes of masturbation, it is quite common for the producers of this type of material to use larger than average, or, well endowed male models, or employ techniques such as airbrushing to create the illusion of large penises. This, in itself can play an integral part in allowing young males to develop greater feelings of inadequacy by making comparisons. Playful teasing amongst young teens may take on more importance if you are the target for ‘small dick’ humour. This, so called humour, is by no means restricted to males for delivery, and may be all the more damaging if delivered by young females or males, who may be objects of desire to the young man on the receiving end of this type of abuse, because abuse is what it is.
We lie to our peers about:
- Our sexual ability/experience
- Our penis size
- Our number of sexual partners
- Whether we masturbate and how often
- How many times we can ejaculate, or ‘cum’ within a given period of time
But the question remains, ‘who teaches this to young males?’ Is it absorbed from media and other sources, is it peer learnt as well as peer propagated, is it learnt from females, or at least, perpetuated by them? Do young males ever question where their own sexual identity and where their own and outside attitudes come from?
Many viewpoints from extreme feminist literature to parents saying to their young male offspring ‘big boys don’t cry’ or ‘Be a big man’ can have a detrimental effect on how males view themselves. These subliminal messages add to the difficulty of identifying positive male attributes when working with young males and it still proves to be very difficult to locate useable material that is affirming and accessible and, most of all relevant in this arena.
Whose task is it to challenge these myths and stereotypes, or should they remain an unchallenged part of a young man’s perceived sexual/social identity?
In a society where it still remains almost unacceptable for a man to openly express his emotions or feelings, and to do so is still perceived as weakness, or failure, it can be no surprise that men may feel unable to communicate their true feelings or concerns around their sexuality.
Much has been written about the links between sex, sexual frustration and violence. Could it be, that society, in perpetuating a climate that keeps men mute about these, most personal issues, colludes somehow in creating a vacuum in which violence, and in particular, sexual violence can occur?
The work of the Red Ribbon Project, and other similar agencies, including our Policy makers, must be to challenge the myths as we encounter them, and in small ways to seek to create windows of opportunity for men to express their feelings in a safe and supported manner.
Male emancipation anyone?