Is it the “size of the ship” or the “motion of the ocean” that matters during sex? If Hollywood and popular culture are to be believed, penis size is very important in masculine identity and the ability to please a woman. Is this really true? Does “size” really matter?
Someone once asked Abraham Lincoln how long a man’s legs should be. He replied, “Long enough to touch the ground.” The human penis should also be long enough to do its job. But how long is that?
Flaccid penis length does not correlate well with erect length, as most penises inflate to the same length when erect, according to Dr. Dudley S. Danoff in his book Superpotency. The average length of an erect penis is 4 5/8 inches to 6 1/4 inches. Anywhere within that inch range is considered normal, with 12% of the population falling below that range and 12% exceeding it. This measurement is made from the undersurface of the penis, starting where the penis shaft protrudes from the groin. The largest penis on record was 13 inches erect, documented in the early 1900s by Dr. Robert L. Dickinson, a noted sex researcher.
It should be noted that smaller flaccid penises increase more in size during erection than do larger flaccid penises, but both are essentially equal when erect.
If everyone’s penis is basically the same length when erect, why are so many men concerned about size? And do women care about size?
Size is an ancient obsession
The Hite Report on Male Sexuality by Shere Hite found that of 7,000 men, the majority of them wished to be bigger. To understand men’s obsession with size, we only have to look at history. Mankind’s fascination with the phallus is exemplified in many ancient cultures—including the Egyptians—as early as 4,500 B.C. Huge phallic statues can be found throughout the world, and the cult of the “lingam” (penis) persists in India. Even today in Japan, the annual “phallus parade” at Komaha-shi continues. This involves a procession of women carrying a huge wooden phallus through the streets, finally depositing it in a shrine where it is touched and revered for its powers to guarantee a successful sex life.
Sigmund Freud suggested that preoccupation with the penis begins early in a boy’s life when he sees the larger penises of his father or older brother. This preoccupation continues and intensifies as he matures. Girls were thought to be jealous of boys because they lacked penises. They compensated for this deficiency by having a baby, developing a masculinity complex, or by becoming neurotic!
Freud’s protegee, Karen Horney, carried this idea of “penis envy” further, but felt that it was caused by society’s oppression of women rather than by a psychological dysfunction. Dr. Bernie Zilbergeld states in The New Male Sexuality that “penis envy” exists, “but only in males. Almost every male seems to envy someone else’s penis.” The irony is that most heterosexual men have never seen any erect penis other than their own. This perceived deficiency can lead to drastic measures, including penis enlargement surgery, known clinically as “augmentation phalloplasty.”
Drastic measures: surgery
Originally developed for that very small percentage of men who have a congenitally small penis (“micropenis”), the surgery consists of cutting the ligaments that attach the top of the penis to the groin so that the penis hangs down lower. The girth of the penis can also be enlarged by injecting fat (removed from other parts of the body by liposuction) into the penile shaft. The procedure was introduced in the early 1990s and was heavily publicized in the media, including an article in Cosmopolitan called “Help for the Teeny Weeny.” It is estimated that more than 10,000 men have undergone the procedure.
However, the results have been far from gratifying. Dr. Hunter Wessells and his colleagues at the University of California have published articles in recent issues of the Journal of Urology in which they discuss the procedure’s complications. The rate of complications was high, and included painful scarring, decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, impotence, infections, poor cosmetic results, nodule formation, irregular fat deposits, and “scrotalization” (absorption of the penis into the scrotum). In most cases, no demonstrable elongation of the penis actually occurred. Because of these drawbacks, the procedure is not recommended for normal-sized men.
What women think
Do women really care about penis size? Study after study suggest that women prefer average-sized penises. In fact, a large recent study of American women (“The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex”) showed that penis size was not important to most women. They were more concerned with whiter teeth, clear complexion, and well-groomed hair!
Does penis size affect a woman’s enjoyment of sex? Very little, according to Dr. Ruth Westheimer in Dr. Ruth’s Guide to Good Sex. It’s the stimulation of the clitoris by the penile shaft and pubic bone that brings a woman to climax, not the depth of penetration of the penis. Indeed, the vagina is a flexible organ that almost always accommodates the size of a penis. The primary contact of the penis with the vaginal wall is the lower 1.5 to 2 inches. This outer third of the vagina tightens in size while the deeper two-thirds expand, so that only the outer portion has tight penis contact. To quote Clifford and Joyce Penner in The Gift of Sex, “If a man has two inches, that’s all he needs to satisfy a woman!”
So men, forget about size. It doesn’t matter! Don’t worry about the “size of the ship.” Concentrate instead on the “motion of the ocean.”