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Men, Insecurity, and Penis Size: A Discussion

One look at ancient artifacts illustrates an age-old fascination with male genitalia. Phallus celebration dates all the way back to Mesopotamia. Artists in Ancient Greece (perhaps, one of the most sexual civilizations) devoted their time and energy into creating artwork that positively represented the power of phalluses. Citizens would crowd into the streets, worshiping gigantic penis sculptures. Dionysus' sexual intoxication filled each person, especially Greek males who cherished the unique construction of their male heritage - his own "manhood." Patrilineal and patriarchal civilizations clearly associated male genitalia with power and prestige: sexual, political, familial, and social. With men tracing their heritage through their male offspring, cultural traditions emerged that celebrated male distinctiveness.

The phallus has always been associated with male identity, though not only as a physical attribute separating men and women. Included in this complex male identity appears to be a separation - a distinction - between other males, which is founded upon certain penis sizes, shapes, colors, and whatever other characteristics one can identify. The male competitive spirit manifests itself in more primitive ways than action on a basketball court or promotions in a office. While past civilizations failed to leave records on penis size: measurements, comments about specific sizes, methods for penis enlargement, females' preferred penis size, etc. - these old civilizations did produce enough related material that we can safely conclude: penis size and shape mattered to men.

Fast-forward into our current period of history, when women have fought for liberation from repressive cultural ideas about sex. Today, sexuality has entered a new phase of development. I looked back to my time as a kid, as an adolescent, and even as an adult. I prodded my mind, looking for any prior notion about penis size: When did I first realize that penis size factored into, or had an impact on, sexual relations? My father certainly never mentioned the subject in my presence.

I am an only child, so I didn't have a gossiping older brother who supposedly, as I've been told, passes on tricks of the trade. I analyzed my past interactions with females. Had a woman ever introduced me to any notions about penis size? I found that no woman had ever planted that seed. Obviously, now that I am older I have had discussions with women about penis size, but no woman introduced me to it. My mind came to a screeching halt. Ah, yes! That's right! I first noticed a significant difference in penis size when I looked at my first pornographic magazine.

It's amazing that concerns over penis size - length and girth - have become entrenched within American culture. Men and women talk about it. Television shows share their opinions on the issue. Films, likewise, waste no time celebrating the well-endowed man. Pornography? When was the last time you watched a pornographic film and actually witnessed an average-sized penis in action?

Television shows like Sex and the City and magazines such as Cosmopolitan have influenced, as well, the creation of entire industry that focuses on increasing penis size and enhancing sexual performance. Are penises, in general, that small that a gigantic penis enlargement industry is justifiable? Or is penis size simply another form of male competition that yields no real personal or relationship benefits?

Insecurities obviously affect all humans, but men seem to spend more time hiding those insecurities. Hidden beneath the massive campaign for larger penises is the often not discussed male ego, which relies heavily on self-perception. Men may attempt to conceal their insecurities, but eventually women notice the peculiar methods in which men approach certain subjects and situations - in this case, sex and penis size. I've done my share of backtracking, urging sex partners to validate me. While insecurity is not monopolized by men, it is helpful to realize that men often conceal their innermost questions, as opposed to women who might be more willing to discuss their feelings.

Some men, regardless of the length and girth of their penis, will question the effectiveness of their penis. For men who perceive their penis as being too small, a desire for a more "average" penis propels them into bouts of imaginary conquest - the potential for greatness. For men who perceive their penis as being too "average," a desire for the idealized pornographic penis sends them into a state of panic: Only a few more inches and I'm there. And, finally, for men who perceive their penises as being large, two outlooks result: The first desire might be that he wishes his penis was just a bit smaller, so more women could enjoy sex with him. The second desire (and for you women who encounter this man, I'm sorry) ... Yes, he could handle the idea of even greater length and girth. His motto: "The more, the better." According to surveys taken by females, more isn't always better. I will discuss female opinions on penis size later in the article.

If many men desire a penis that they don't have, regardless of where they fall on the spectrum of size. Penis size might appear to be an isolated issue, but, really, it's only a part of a much larger issue that has cultural momentum. "Larger is better" has played out not only in sex, but also in fitness. The male identity appears to have swallowed a bitter pill of insecurity that pushes them toward achieving physical characteristics that Mother Nature (genetics) decided to leave out. I am not suggesting, however, that physical conditioning or weight training or even penis enlargement is wrong, that self-improvement should be avoided. I am suggesting that excessive concerns about size are an issue, almost an obsession for many men.

I assume that a fair share of women will read this article. I want to ensure that our female audience understands this topic as best as they can. I always found comfort in the belief that my girlfriends understood me. I also think that is extremely important that women understand the dilemma men face, namely a point where social pressures meet the reality of a given situation. Since men and women are different in so many ways, it's difficult for both sexes to relate on some issues. Identifying similar social pressures that both sexes face is the best method of illustrating why men have a tendency to question their masculinity, as it relates to penis size and function. Breast size is the ideal starting point. Breast augmentation is a common solution for women who feel inadequate physically. The manner in which women view their bodies affects them sexually. Confidence (physically and sexually) has a significant impact on personal identification and relationships. If many women are willing to have surgery in order to enhance tissue appearance (increased breast size), even when that tissue is not an essential or even a vital part of sex, it shouldn't be too difficult to understand why men go to the lengths (no pun intended) that they do, in order to achieve penis perfection. Really, this applies to most forms of cosmetic surgery. I don't want to stray too far off my intended discussion, but the comparison provides context that might have otherwise been ignored, forgotten, or simply not connected to issues of penis size.

Penis size statistics - from male and female satisfaction to actual measurements - can be found all over the Internet. Statistics galore, some might say. In fact, there are so many different penis size related surveys and statistics that days can be spent sifting through all the information. That's exactly what I did, too. I researched this topic until the word "size" sent me into darkened spell of Post-Traumatic Word Disorder. Fortunately, I did encounter new information on perceived penis size "issues" that had previously escaped my mental clutches. "We only want the hard facts, sir." Despite the crude pun offered for your amusement, I really was after reliable evidence on this issue. My first dose of reliable statistics arrived through my reading of "Does Size Matter: Men's and Women's Views on Penis Size Across the Lifespan", by Janet Lever, David A. Frederick, and Letitia Anne Peplau (the contributing writers and researchers for this in-depth study and article), who provide great insight into penis size discussions:

"Views about penis size were assessed in an Internet survey of 52,031 heterosexual men and women. Most men (66%) rated their penis as average, 22% as large, and 12% as small. Self-reported penis size was correlated positively with height and negatively with body fat level. Whereas 85% of women were satisfied with their partner's penis size, only 55% of men were satisfied with their penis size, 45% wanted to be larger, and 0.2% wanted to be smaller. Satisfaction did not vary across age groups from 18 to 65. Men reporting a larger-than-average penis rated their appearance most favorably, suggesting a possible confidence effect of perceived large penis size."
While Internet surveys lack a certain amount of verifiable data, especially when men are measuring themselves and submitting their findings, it is interesting to note that many men (45% of the survey sample) are indeed unhappy with their penis size. Considering that the majority of men surveyed asserted that they had an "average" sized penis, it follows that a large percentage of the "average" sized penis participants also had feelings of inadequacy. This is an important observation, one that echoes my earlier sentiments. Since 12% of men declared that they had small penises, it should be safe to assume that most, if not all, of those men would prefer a larger penis, which accounts for nearly half of the 45% who were unsatisfied with their current penis size. Roughly speaking, the remaining percentage of unhappy men must reside in the "average" category, and it is plausible to conclude that almost half of those men who declared themselves to be average size were also discouraged by their "average" penis size, wishing for extra length and girth. The survey's credibility relies on factual information submitted by participants. Due to the Internet's role as a mode of delivery and interaction, verifiable evidence is lacking; however, the large sample size should balance out any measurement errors or misleading information.

It is also important to note that the above study clearly communicated that women appear to be satisfied with average penis length and girth. Only a small percentage declared that their significant other lacked the penis size necessary for sexual satisfaction. This is an amazing find. However, anatomical considerations support women's answers. The most common types of orgasms are clitoral and G-Spot. Clitoral orgasms rely on external stimulation. Penis size has little influence on this type of orgasm. Since the G-Spot is located 2-3 inches inside of the vagina, men generally do not need extra length and girth to please their partners. If the majority of women are satisfied with their partner's penis size, the feelings of inadequacy pushing men to desire increased penis size must be derived from another source.

Lifestyle Condoms completed their own penis size survey in 2001. Unlike the typical Internet or phone survey, Lifestyle Condoms wanted to see how men measured up, so they conducted their research in person, having a professional handle all penis measurements. Lifestyle Condoms wanted to ensure that measurements were exact, leaving no room for personal exaggeration of length and girth. The only area of concern is the sample size. College students mainly participated in the survey, resulting in limited ethnic and age variation. Despite age and ethnic barriers, the survey's results are fairly reliable. ABC news, through their contact with Lifestyle Condoms representatives, reported their findings on average length:

"According to the survey, about two-thirds of the 300 college-aged men ranged from between 5.1 and 6.2 inches [length]. For those of you who don't like to deal in raw numbers, at 5.877 inches, the average penis is about the size of a Nestle Butterfinger candy bar (unwrapped) or a grande (medium) cup of coffee at Starbucks (with the sip lid). Most men vary in size between a Twix bar and a Peter Paul Mounds (with the wrapper extended)."
Later in the article, they reported their findings on average girth:
"According to the study, the average erect penis had a girth of 4.972 inches. About 75 percent of men were between 4.5 and 5.5 inches."
In comparison to previous studies and surveys, the Lifestyle Condoms survey found that the size of a man's penis is slightly smaller than initially thought. The findings needed to be accurate, as Lifestyle Condoms used the data for condom design, hopefully creating a more comfortable, yet sturdy condom that works for the average penis. For a more detailed discussion of this article, visit ABC News Online.

Other penis size studies and surveys have been less successful at verifying results. Perhaps increasing the sample size would help to eliminate any statistical blunders or anomalies. The Definitive Penis Size Survey has the largest sample size that I've stumbled upon. Once again, however, due to the limited verifiable measurements, accuracy might be an issue. It is an ongoing study, and it is recommended that survey participants send in photos of their actual measurements. Lifestyle Condoms' survey lacked true age and ethnicity variation, but the Definitive Penis Size Survey extended its sample size to include various ages, ethnicities, and sexual orientation. This study found that the average male penis length is 6.4 inches. They concluded that the average girth is 5.0 inches. Currently, a validation study for this survey is underway, so more information will be available soon!

There is a tremendous amount of information one confronts when they embark on the statistical journey of penis size. Is it all about numbers? No. This is a very personal issue for many men. Women can empathize with the social pressures men face. They've been dealing with the demands of men and a society run by men for years. Up until the Sexual Revolution of the 60s, men had less concern about penis sizes. After women began openly expressing themselves sexually, complexity entered the bedroom.

It's not by mistake that massive commercialization of sex started soon after the Sexual Revolution. As sex entered the public arena, gender roles changed. A new adjustment, perhaps, is in order. On a fundamental level of sexual function and satisfaction, large penises are not a requirement. Many women prefer average penis sizes to larger ones. With this being said, and even with assurances from their partners that they sexually satisfied, many men will still pursue alternative methods for penis enlargement. The steady growth of penis enlargement programs and products further fuels the fire toward perceived satisfactory penis length and girth. While it may seem that I subscribe to a negative viewpoint of the penis enlargement industry, I assure you that is not the case. I may disagree with their perpetuation of what is considered acceptable penis size and what is not, but I recognize that men must make the final decision.

Natural Penis Enlargement: Devices and Exercises is the second part of this discussion. Penis enlargement programs and products are explored in greater detail. After exhaustively covering this topic, men and women should be in a better position to discuss the issue and make informed decisions about what viable enlargement solutions exist. VibeReview invites you to follow the progress made in Natural Penis Enlargement: Devices and Exercises.

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Last updated: Oct. 08, 2023