THE PARADOX OF PORN: penis dimensions


Perception: the more I look at porn, the smaller I think my dick is.

Reality: “While most models are presented in poses that make them appear to be massive brutes, most of them are really, really short. There’s a reason for it. While gay male mythology makes a great deal of noise about various cock sizes and the ways you’re supposed to be able to discern them — big feet, big ears, et al — the truth is that most dicks are about the same length and width. There are variations but, for the most part, the differences between various dicks are slight. Thus, if you have a perfectly average penis on a very short man, it looks huge. But the same cock on a very tall man, and it will look small. The munchkins win out in the model sweepstake. Knowing all this makes it difficult to believe that the mean-looking biker on the cover of Drummer is really anything more than a gym bunny who stands only as tall as my tits.” — John Preston, My Life as a Pornographer

Man measuring his penis size



Sex is not always about reproduction or about love or about tenderness. All too easily sex derails from its species errand and becomes entwined with anger or guilt or fear, and thus the vast spectrum of human fantasies arise. This man needs to think of shoes in order to perform, and this woman dreams of spankings, and that man wants to wear and dress so his penis can engorge, and that woman thinks of whips and chains. In the darkness of his soul, this man wants little girls and that man wants little boys, and this woman needs an imaginary crowd to watch her movements and that one finds her satisfaction in piercings of the private parts urine, feces, animal costumes may all play a part in our fantasy lives.

Each sexual story has its origins in early years, in memories and wirings that we can hardly fathom, in our genes or in our nurseries or in our first experiences of our bodies, our own and those of others. We understand some things but just a few. Sexual preferences, some infused with hate or guilt, remain a mysterious continent open to exploration, open to spelunkers brave enough to follow the clues downward into our blackest hearts and our earliest memories. How good it would be to better understand the roles of shame and curiosity and pain and what part they play in our sexual lives. We have just begun to map our own complex minds.

But this list of sexual wishes, odd practices, less-than-dignified desires, compulsions is not confined to one sex or the other. It is a feature of sexuality that affects many human exchanges, and even more private dreams. Perhaps these rise from the efforts we make to control our lusts, or perhaps they rise from strange coincidences, stray moments that became electrified in our memories, or perhaps they are the result of the controls we must exercise as human animals who can restrain impulses but pay the price for that restraint.

Maybe as we think more about our sexual lives we will find better ways to enjoy them, to fuse them with love and release them from hate. Or maybe not. But, either way, the species needs the sexual life of both male and female in order to reach out into time, enduring civilization while dragging its discontents behind it.

–Anne Roiphe, “Order and Desire”

"Obscene" by Mel Bochner

“Obscene” by Mel Bochner

RESOURCES: a happy transgender story

Life can be challenging, disruptive, dangerous, and unhappy for transgender individuals. We’ve heard a lot of rough stories about people who may or may not have made it through the transition facing every kind of difficulty — social, spiritual, financial, medical, hormonal, physical, interpersonal. Here’s one story that is quite happy. In a little over four minutes, Skylar narrates his story as a slideshow of photos of his life. Not every trans person has his privileges and blessings — he seems to have extraordinary acceptance by his family and peers, financial resources sufficient to have $7500 worth of top surgery as a college freshman, good healthcare. Um, he’s white. Nevertheless, his video is worth watching to hear the story from the beginning and understand that the story can have a happy ending.