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Penis Size is NOT a Meritocracy

by James S. Bray 2 months ago in sexual wellness

Lessons on Pride for Things not Earned

Rejoiced or reviled, let's take a closer look at penis size.

When I decided to write about penis size, I knew I was entering into some fairly testy territory. In fact, this might be the number-one topic that makes men squeamish, so it ought to be handled with care, delicately, even. I also knew that my own endowment might come into question during the course of the article, just for the simple fact that I am a man writing about penis size.

If I defend small penises, the assumption is that I surely must have a micropenis myself. Or, perhaps I will portray a certain confidence in my transparency on these issues and the assumption becomes the opposite, that I have a massive unit. However, these assumptions are actually a symptom of the issues I am writing this piece to address.

It’s simply true of the culture in which we live that there will be some amount of speculation as to the size of the man who willingly writes about penises, but this makes it no less problematic. In order to solve real social issues that affect people, we have to be willing to talk about our own experiences, no matter how embarrassing.

Still, the fact that one even would feel embarrassed about something they have no control over points to a cultural problem with the way we are having this discussion. So, being that the only authentic position that anyone can speak from is their own experience, and there will be speculation as to something so arbitrary anyway, it seems almost impossible for me not to inadvertently expose my own… bias.

By Deon Black on Unsplash

Though, before the exposé begins, let’s take a closer look at our assumptions on endowment, by considering certain stereotypes. In the worst-case scenario for writing this, I could be viewed as the guy publicly complaining about having a big penis (Oh, how sorry we feel for you.), the guy who unconvincingly brags about it (Cue the eye rolls!), or the guy with a tiny penis screaming his frustrations to an insensitive crowd (Pipe down, Napoleon!). Yet, if I were any of these things, would that matter?

My experience as a man is just as valid as any others, regardless of penis size. It’s not as if, by talking about these matters, I somehow feel that my view from the “penile landscape,” if you will, is atop some peak where I have a clearer view. Rather, my hope is to humble you to a single fact that is at the very heart of the penis-size discussion. That fact is as follows:

Penis size is NOT a meritocracy.

If there is one thing that cannot be denied in this discussion, it’s that none of us did a single thing to earn, nor deserve, the penis we were born with. It’s not like penis enlargement pills, serums, pumps, snake oils or magic spells will change the situation — ahem — at hand. You can take some off, but just try putting some on. In light of this fact, the only logical conclusion is that any amount of pride or shame that we may feel, in regard to penis size, is entirely unjustified. No one with a penis is warranted in feeling good or bad about which jockstrap they have to buy.

By Deon Black on Unsplash

As men, even if we know intellectually that we did nothing to earn whatever endowment we may have, that there is no merit in it, our egos will still inflate at the slightest compliment in its direction. When I consider the opposite experience that, no doubt, many men have had, I feel nothing but empathy for their position.

For as little sense as it makes, given the cards we were arbitrarily dealt in the genetic lottery, I know that these men are experiencing just as much negative emotion on the matter as they would feel positive emotion from a compliment, if not more. This is a grave injustice, given that we have no control over it.

No one deserves, nor actually could be deserving of the size of their penis any more than they could be deserving of the color of their eyes.

There are certain issues that feelings associated with penis size bring up, in either extreme, which, I believe, aren’t valid because they are undeserved. The implications of our mindsets surrounding the issue must be more closely analyzed. If I felt joy or pride in my own endowment, I would actually be making the value judgment that penises which are my size are better than those which are not.

Western society itself seems to be making a different judgment, being that larger penises are better than smaller ones. To make these judgments, we use the ample data available on penis size, from which we know that the average erect penis is 5.16 inches (13.1 cm) long. Given that the current penis zeitgeist has a focus on “big” penises, we can infer “big” to mean a penis larger than the average.

Hercules' member is depicted as anything but herculean.

This is a stark contrast from the ancient Greeks, who viewed small penises as a sign of intellect and virtue. Conversely, they associated larger penises with barbarity and foolishness, reserving these for their depictions of characters like satyrs, who were hedonists with the lower half of a beast, except for the exaggerated human member.

Interestingly, Greek statues of figures with a modest penis were quite a bit smaller than the average down below. It certainly makes sense that we associate ideal qualities with those which are outside of the norm, because something is not extraordinary when it’s common. However, associating personality traits with penis size is a logically-flawed practice that we ought to have left in the ancient world, where it belongs.

The fact that penis size is fetishized at all is a problem.

As far as we know, we have no reason to think that the size of one’s penis has a bearing on one’s personality or abilities. No one has control over their endowment and, yet, penis size is still a very delicate and important matter for interpersonal relations. As such, the mainstream discussion between men and women has obvious issues on both sides.

A little more sensitivity is warranted on this issue. As a modern society, we have associated the size of a man’s penis with his worth as a sexual partner, an object for ridicule in order to harm his ego, or something to compliment him on, despite him having done nothing to earn it. On the male side, it’s common for men to brag of large penises and, thereby, inadvertently put down smaller penises (though this is often done explicitly too).

Satyrs are half beast and depicted with large, erect penises.

To zoom out and look at the issue more practically, the only way that it makes sense to be concerned about penis size is if it is physically required for the receiving partner to enjoy sex. It’s well known that both men and women have different sized and proportioned sexual organs. This fact has made its way into our culture in the harsh behavior of men, who have often made women’s vaginas the butt of the joke.

If she has a vagina with a wider set than average, she will be called “loose,” which is also a term that is unfairly used to shame women for their number of sexual partners, as it implies that their size is not natural. Often, men will covet a “tighter” vagina, with a smaller than average entry, which may or may not be accompanied by a shallower vaginal depth. This means that if two sexual partners who fit the mainstream societal ideals surrounding genitals got together, it could make them less sexually compatible for each other than they might be with others.

Photo from

There is an obvious mismatch between our ideals and the reality of the situation.

An interesting study posted in the British Journal of Urology International, ‘Am I normal?...’ (linked in my sources), gives us the chart above. This chart plots penis sizes, as measured in the study, with their corresponding percentile groups. At 50% is the average penis length, 13 centimeters, or about 5.1 inches. This is the 50th percentile, meaning that all 50% below are smaller in size and the 50% above are larger.

A penis just an inch longer, at 6.1 inches, is about 15.5 centimeters, which on the graph looks to be about the 92nd percentile. This last inch is not significant, but it already makes its bearer larger than 92% of the rest. A penis 7.1 inches long is in the 99th percentile. You can put this into further context by applying the math to your life. For example, if you take the number of men in your county and multiply it by .01 for the 1%, you will have a number you will never forget (being the number of men in your area with a penis this large).

With all of these numbers flying around, you might wonder where you stand. Well, never fear, during my research I found calcSD, which is a tool that can be used to compare your penis size against more than 5 datasets. They even provide instructions for how to measure correctly. If you are interested in the numbers, you can find a link to calcSD in my sources at the end, you sly dog.

These calculations reveal that what is colloquially considered a “big” penis isn’t something so monstrous and terrifying as to command some sort of respect; it’s just outside of the norm. Of those men who are significantly larger, though, this could pose a different kind of incompatibility problem, which has not even been discussed here. With the help of calcSD, we find that if you had a 10 inch (25.4 cm) penis, when measured against 1000 men, you would be larger than all but one of them. If your penis is 13 inches (33 cm) or larger, then it’s basically always top dog, but being that size is not without its issues, to be sure.

The point to be taken is that penis size is all about the same, except near the farthest ends of the spectrum, and then it only starts to become unmanageable at about the 99.25th percentile.

By Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Another study, 'How big is too big?', found that the average size of dildos is 6.5 inches (16.7cm) long and 5 inches (12.7cm) in girth, plus or minus 0.6 inches (1.6cm) and 0.3 inches (0.8cm) respectively. Meaning women, on average, seem to prefer penises 5.9 - 7.1 inches long (15.1 - 18.3 cm) and 4.7 - 5.3 inches in girth (12.4 - 13 cm). However, the results don't end there.

That same study found that a girth more than 5.9 inches (15.1cm) could make intercourse painfully difficult. It also found that the girth that women choose in dildos is about a half to a whole standard deviation more than average, meaning that girth might be more pleasurable than length. It's also a healthy thing to realize that a real penis doesn't come on its own. Well... what I mean is that there's more to a person than a penis and the most perfect penis in the world means nothing if he treats his partner poorly, or doesn't know how to use it. There are simply more important things in life.

By Kate Kozyrka on Unsplash

Penis size says nothing about anything EXCEPT sexual compatibility, but only on one, very shallow dimension; how well the parts fit together. It’s not exactly Shakespeare, is it?

So, with all of this in view, I think we should stop fetishizing penis size, or the size of vaginas for that matter. It makes no sense because no one has control for how they were naturally born. When considering people as sexual partners, all that should matter is that both parties are able to enjoy intercourse with the hardware they have.

How compatible your sexual organs are says nothing about how compatible you are as sexual partners, once things get going, or how compatible you will be in a relationship. If you can make the sex work with the people you are having sex with is the important thing, because penis size also does not speak to sexual aptitude or prowess.

How you negotiate a successful sex life is between you and your partner(s) and it is done with a consideration of the facts as they are, size and proportions of genitals and all. However, this discussion should never entail hurtful statements about aspects of the other person which are outside of their control.

As a society, I think we would do well to start to change the modern discussion about what lies beneath the loins. The best and first thing we could do to get the ball rolling in the right direction in this discussion is to stop treating penis size as a meritocracy. Men did nothing to deserve a big or small penis, and neither have women, for that matter.

By Womanizer WOW Tech on Unsplash

No one deserves a man with a big swinging dick, or a small one to be insultingly viewed as punishment. Rather, all people deserve to be with someone who doesn’t judge their partner’s genitals, but with whom sex can be mutually enjoyed, regardless of such details.

As reasonable adults, we need to be able to continue having a discussion over these matters, but with a bit more maturity given the facts we know. This is especially true considering the social issues of our time. There is finally a growing awareness and acceptance in society of the trans community, and it now ought to be something we consider that some men aren’t born with penises at all. If we can’t start having the right conversation about what has been normative about penises in our culture, how can we expect ourselves to have the modern discussions that we must, in light of our growing awareness of human sexuality?

By Dainis Graveris on Unsplash

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calcSD (calculate penis size):

British Journal of Urology International Study :

How big is too big?:

sexual wellness
James S. Bray
James S. Bray
Read next: A Night at the Theatre
James S. Bray

Freelance writer and non-fiction author. Here to branch out and build skill.

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