We have talked a bit about the comparison Bordo makes between penis size for men and weight for women, and I find it to be a productive analogy (not only because it works it someways, but also for the ways it does not work) so I would like to explore it further.

I think Bordo makes a point about social expectations and pressures to have a large penis and be skinny for men and women respectively. I am well aware of these pressures on women and how they manifest into alarmingly high rates of dieting and eating disorders. I also understand that there is a value judgement attached to penis size, but until watching the documentary in class, I was not aware of the extent that this affects some men. I can understand the doubts and lack of confidence of a man with a penis that is smaller than average, but I cannot really understand the concerns of the man in the documentary who got the surgery. He ties his desire for the surgery back to comments he heard from some women, and a lack of positive feedback on his penis.

I do not mean to downplay the pressures that men face regarding their penis size, but I think there is a point that really distinguishes a woman’s weight troubles from the doubts surrounding one’s penis. Fat women are fat women all the time – revealing one’s penis takes place in an intimate setting. I think both are very painful – being laughed at in public for being fat, or being laughed at by someone who you are presumably close to for not “measuring up.” Both deplete self-confidence in one’s body and sexuality. Perhaps it is more painful to be rejected in the latter situation – when you are a fat woman, whoever is pursuing you knows this. However, if a man reveals himself in an intimate setting and is scoffed at, it is his penis that is at fault, though he is “a nice guy and funny” or whatever (recall the comments of that ridiculous woman in the documentary).

I also think that the importance of penis size is a bit more constructed or exaggerated than the importance of a woman being attractive. Men of all sizes are sure to please someone, perhaps not women who hold penis size above everything else. I think Idhe makes a good point about the penis being held captive by the phallus – that men too often relate their penis to power and its size to dominance or hierarchy. At the end of the day (or the night) I think many would agree that it is about confidence and how you use it, not some measurement held against a ridiculous standard.

Advertisements