I Feel Bad About My Neck was the title of Nora Ephron’s last collection of essays, subtitled “And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.” The male equivalent of such a book would obviously be titled I Feel Bad About My Dick. However much neurotic energy women spend obsessing about their weight, figure, skin, clothes, shoes, and hair, men’s (considerable) investment in those same concerns practically disappear in relation to the time and energy they spend fretting about their dicks.
“Is it big enough?” leads the pack, and of course it almost never is (thank you, pornography, for conveying a distorted image of what an average penis looks like). Even when the size is clearly adequate, there are other equally agonizing concerns: it may be long enough, but is it thick enough? It may be thick enough, but is it long enough? It may have length and girth, but does my dick work? does it get hard? does it get hard enough? does it stay hard long enough? does it squirt? does it squirt enough, fast enough, but not too fast? does it have a pleasing shape? what if it doesn’t? is it okay if I’m circumcised? is it a problem if I have a foreskin? is my foreskin too much or too little? is it unsightly? what about my balls — big enough? what about my pubic hair — too much? too little? groomed properly? not groomed enough? what about my asshole — should I shave it, bleach it, tattoo it…? (Again, thanks, porn.)
And all this goes on mostly inside our frazzled brains. Guys just don’t talk about this stuff. (Except maybe in therapy. There is some speculation that talking about his feelings of genital inadequacy to his analyst inspired Fritz Perls to invent gestalt therapy.)
Which is the main reason I found so fascinating a blog post that turned up on New York magazine’s website called “What It’s Like to Have a Micropenis.” Writer Alexa Tsoulis-Reay conducts an extensive interview with an unnamed 51-year-old white heterosexual Brit who has what is sometimes termed a “micropenis,” meaning that it measures three inches long or less when erect. The guy has a lot to say about the shame, embarrassment, anguish, and awkwardness of his endowment that I suspect many other men would relate to, no matter what size their dicks may be. As a professional who talks to men about sex for a living, I can say that it’s normal and reasonable to have a lot of feelings about your dick, including grief, anger, and fear of rejection. But I can also say that none of these feelings has to be the whole story. It’s a lifelong spiritual challenge to value your assets and not overidentify with your deficits. I operate on the assumption that anything that encourages you to be creative and imaginative — to expand your definition of sex beyond intercourse-to-ejaculation (sticking it in and pumping til it shoots) — is only going to make sex play more fun, pleasurable, and satisfying for you and your partner.
What do you think?