I’m always fascinated by the differences between American and British newspapers, especially how they handle discussions of sex and depictions of nudity. The Guardian, the most progressive of London’s daily papers, recently published a feature about photographer Laura Dodsworth and her latest book Manhood, for which she photographed 100 men naked from the waist down and interviewed them about their penises. (The book is a sequel to Bare Reality, in which women talked about their breasts.)
In addition to talking to Dodsworth about her book, the Guardian published several excerpts of the interviews and every single one of the photographs. I can’t imagine any daily newspaper in the United States running pictures of 100 penises, can you? Above and beyond the initial titillation, the article (and the book) do a great public service by exploring a subject that men think about all the time but don’t talk about much at all, even to their closest friends and loved ones.
The men range in age from 20 to 92, and their bodies take many sizes, shapes, and colors. Unless you are an enthusiastic naturist and spend time on nude beaches or in other environments where naked bodies are the norm, you may not have seen very many penises in your life — outside of pornography, which almost exclusively features penises that are large, erect, and intimidating. In my experience, it’s almost always revelatory and healing for men (and women!) to see a large quantity of penises and realize how varied and individual they are. And the men in Dodsworth’s book talk very honestly and intimately about their private parts. Check out the excerpts online here and let me know what you think.
Thanks for this, Don. I breezed by it on my Twitter feed last week, so I’m glad you served it up again. It’s such a compelling investigation. A few years ago, I did a small workshop at Easton Mountain called “Penis Drama.” The goal was to begin a dialogue between men about their relationships with their penises. I had some idea, but in fact no idea of how much men want to talk about this. Once the standard dick jokes were discharged, and given a structure and safe space to talk, the sharing went deep.
Hi Don, this is really interesting, thanks for bringing it to our attention. And yes, I totally agree with you on how important a topic it is yet so seldom discussed; plus there is not US newspaper that would publish this kind of article, and we are the poorer for it. One way to deal with this is for all of us to push penis chat into our conversations with friends, gay and straight alike. It’s time to take the shame out of it!! Best, Lou