Body Positivity and Penis Size – What You Have versus What It Does

This blog was originally posted in Life on the Swingset on May 23, 2012.

I will confess, this post is not directly about swinging, poly, etc. However, as a sexually liberated group, I felt like I needed to share my feelings on a particular issue with this readership. Penis size judgement.

I have fallen madly in love with the body-positive movement. Let’s do away with body shaming of all kinds, and teach people who the only person who needs to love a body is its owner. Your value judgment is not a part of my body. I am in favor of this, and women everywhere are learning to embrace their ribs, their rolls, their nose hairs and the weird-shaped freckles on their nipples. We the body-positive are, slowly but surely, empowering the world. But we are falling down on the job in one crucial area.

I recently read an article online entitled Is a Small Penis a Feminist Issue? The writer of this article avers that while she really wants to be egalitarian, and tell men that all penises are equally beautiful and valuable, she can’t because “preference aside, we all know that different dicks feel different.” What she’s saying is not a lie, but she has utterly missed the point. Yes, it’s true, different dicks do feel different, but that doesn’t matter. The value of a penis is not its relationship to a vagina, or an asshole, or a mouth, or anything other than itself. Making someone else feel good does not determine whether a penis is good any more than being aesthetically appealing to a male determines whether a pair of breasts is good.

If we can shout from the roof-tops that all our bodies are beautiful, and all our bodies are good, why are we still treating penises like tools that only exist for their use-value? Women are embracing their vaginas for what they are, but penises are still viewed in light of what they do. It is true that there is a cultural idea that women are and men do. Women are for looking at. Men do things, make things, work. And because the idea of body-positivity is primarily centered around aesthetics, I suppose it is unsurprising that it caught on for women’s genitals faster than men’s. There are lots of books full of photos of vulvas, so that they can be looked upon and admired in all shapes and sizes. This is good. If there is a book like that of penises, someone please point me toward it. I want it for the human sexuality library at my job. Because I have never heard of such a thing.

I’m not trying to say that we don’t have the right to preferences. I have them, certainly. I know what I like and what I don’t, and I am allowed to have that. What I’m not allowed to do is act like my preference in what kind of penis makes my body feel good is the same thing as deciding what kind of penis is good. The author of this article tries to work her way toward this conclusion when she says that “like having fat, we tend to treat having a small penis like a character flaw. These aren’t character flaws!” She edges her way toward the right answer, but winds up her article going right back to the issue of what women like as the judgment of whether the penis is good.

Her final conclusion is that “Sure, there are women for whom a small dick is not a problem. But just like a lot of men are attracted to women with huge, perfect breasts, a lot of women prefer a big dick.”

First of all, her use of the term “perfect breasts” made me die a little inside, but while it’s a symptom of her overall misunderstanding of body positivity, it’s not what I’m discussing right now. The question of whether or not having a small penis is a “problem” is answered solely in terms of what women prefer. Having a small dick is a problem for some women. That may be true, but that’s the woman’s problem, not the penis’s. I wouldn’t be able to survive in this world if I thought that the value of my breasts, or my vulva, or any part of me, was determined by how much another person liked it. No more should any man think that the beauty and value of his penis are determined by how well it can please someone else.


One thought on “Body Positivity and Penis Size – What You Have versus What It Does

  1. I love this post, Star. It provokes a number of thoughts. First, as a body builder, I hear, and my wife hears, almost constantly that we suffer from “low self esteem” because we think of our bodies as living works of art, something to be worked on. But one’s relation to the body doesn’t have to produce or fail to produce self esteem. I can’t say the term “body positivity” works for me: I guess I just reject the sense of positive/negative, but I love what you say about body shaming, and you give me the sense that the beauty of the body is the beauty of being alive.

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