Body hang-ups not just for women?

// 4 September 2007

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From the moment we recognise we have breasts, we are invested with insecurities that will plague us for the most part of our adult lives. Are they too small? Too big? oddly shaped? Is one of our tits bigger, yes BIGGER, that the other? Please, noooo anything but that….

Yep, the possibilities for self-depracation are endless, and for women this is something that is imposed upon us by by a wider culture that for some reason equates the voluptous bosom as directly proportional to our feminity. Lads magazines displaying scantily clad babes with breasts so round it looks like they’re smuggling a pair of watermelons promotes this negative body image. Women with smaller breasts are often unfairly subject to abusive and hurtful comments, which attempt to undermine their status as females. Women with bigger breasts don’t have it easy either; for some reason if a big-titted woman flashes a big of cleavage men cannot help but assume she’s an easy lay.

Apparently, however, it’s not just women who feel insecure about their bodies owing to a general prejudice, according to a programme broadcast by BBC Three last night. In My Penis and Everyone Else’s, Lawrence Barraclough attempted to determine why men are so preoccupied with the size of their genitalia,and furthermore why, when men are ingratiated into the ‘cult of masculinity,’ are they reluctant to discuss the size, shape and girth of their cocks with each other over a quiet pint.

Dick size has long been equated with a man’s social premise and virility, and so it’s not suprising that men who feel that they are not endowed with a lunchbox that would make a randy elephant blush feel inadequate. Some men are so self-conscious about the size of their cocks that this inhibits their social and sexual lives to such an extent that they feel they have no option but to undergo a painful and invasive enlargement procedure, although as Barraclough finds, sometimes the psychological insecurites fostered by this preoccupation with the physical cannot be overcome with cosmetic surgery.

For anyone, male or female, to have such body hang-ups owing to social stereotyping and pressures to conform to a certain template of what constitutes masculine and feminine demonstrates the lack of acceptance of anything that deviates from a widely accepted, although not substantiated or confirmed, norm.

However, whereas female insecurities can be located as emanating largely from a tradition of objectifcation by men, do male insecurities, and man’s preoccupation with the contents of his underpants, have distinclty female origins? One expert questioned for the programme references pornography, claiming that male performers are chosen owing to the abnormally large size of their penis. Has this fostered the idea that one can only be a good fuck if one has a big cock? or rather, is it male camaraderie, and the inclination of men to boast and exaggeraate the size of their manhood to try and impress prospective partners and peers that has ironically made the reality of their size seem difficult to fathom?

The women questioned by Barraclough did place a great deal of importance on size, although again, is this because we actually feel we want and need a bigger cock or because the myth perpetuated by porn culture and men themselves that invests women with a desire for girth and length, however unsubstantiated this may be? Maybe women want it because we’re told it’s what we want, and not becuase we have promoted this in the first place. It may be a cliche, but someone once said it’s not the size of the boat but the motion of the ocean, but if nothing else it was interesting to see that men are just as susceptible to the machinations of our society that places emphasis on self-perfectability. The programme will be repeated on BBC Three, and it’s definetely worth a look.

Photo by sachama, shared under a Creative Commons License

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