The Penis, Mightier than Our Fears, Deserving of Its Own Stories

I have an average-sized penis.

(Oh, you’re thinking, I didn’t want to know that.)

I post this not because I’m in a particularly exuberant mood to overshare, but because of that barely serious meme going around telling women that the shape and size of their breasts somehow indicates their personality.

I wondered what it would be like to have some sort of playful map of men’s penis shapes, sizes, and corresponding personas. Would people laugh? Be offended? Should I try it? No.

The point (or the tip) of the issue is that we don’t talk about penises, despite the great anxiety they cause, the pleasure they bring, and the myriad traumas in which they are forced to participate. Too many men are desperately insecure about their penis size and functionality.

As a sex worker, I saw a lot of dicks in my young life. I saw tiny ones and I saw mammoth ones. The biggest one was on a young sailor from Ohio, a boy I remember well, only a few years older than my then-17. Ohio pulled down his pants timidly to reveal a grain silo between his legs. It would have been easier to be fisted by Andre the Giant than put this poor boy in any orifice.

Ohio was not proud, but worried. “Is there… is there anything we can do with this?” he asked. I did my best.

I saw tiny penises too, under three inches erect, the girth of my thumb. Their owners were timid too, as if waiting for my contemptuous reaction. I think one of them even asked the same question the Ohio boy with his own space shuttle had asked: “Is there anything we can do with this?”

Sex work taught me early that sometimes penises work as we hope and sometimes they don’t, that anxiety and rage around size and performance can be a real thing, and that men take that rage out on other men and on women.

Sex work taught me that not being able to get an erection myself, or cumming too quickly, or not being able to cum at all with a man or a woman were all normal variations on what it was like to have a penis. These eventualities were not to be pathologized or overanalyzed; they were not even to be called “shortcomings.”

I call myself average because I’ve encountered so many penises of so many shapes and sizes, from the massive to the minuscule and everything in between. I didn’t measure each of these guys and determine an actual average — what I mean is that I fall in between the most challenging extremes.

I’ve dated women who expressed relief, disappointment, and excitement when they saw what I possessed. The disappointment was always a bit hurtful, but one dealt. We are not one size fits all; some women and men crave larger penises in a way that others don’t. That doesn’t make them wrong or shallow (pun not intended). It’s a valid preference.

One of my earlier marriages was to a woman who told me early on mine was the smallest she’d ever seen, and yet on we trundled. It was not why we divorced.

My point of this peroration is that we don’t talk nearly often enough about penises. Too many men are too anxious about their size and performance while lacking the vocabulary and the courage to talk about it; too many women are leery of doing or saying anything to upset fragile male egos.

We can do better.