I’ve decided that self deprecation does more to hurt the male ego than I ever could.
I once dated a man who talked constantly about his “small” penis. Having seen it up close and personal I found it interesting that he would choose to obsess over a perfectly normal sized organ. And when I say “constantly” I don’t mean every sentence. But still, it was mentioned often.
One day I decided to count. Over the course of a few hours he made a small member joke three times. Now three may not seem like that many but think about it. Have you had any conversations about male anatomy today? How about three? How many times a day do you reference the size or shape of your vagina?
I never thought about his penis unless it was presented to me. That is, until he started bringing it up in conversation. And, much like that annoying friend who talks incessantly about how fat her size 2 ass is, I didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to say. Clearly he thought his penis was small. Clearly he thought it was a problem.
It wasn’t that small.
Was it the largest penis I’d ever seen? No. But it fit within the realm of normal. I mean it wasn’t a baby carrot for the love of crap, so what the hell was he so worried about?
He refused to talk about it. He’d make a small penis joke and I would respond with something I liked about him or his penis. Once I tried to ask him what made him think it was small. Had some idiot female told him “how cute it was” or some other awful variation? But when I tried to talk about his “small” penis, he’d shut down. He could mention it in every conversation, but if I did, he wouldn’t speak to me for hours.
My mind went wild. I decided someone had baby talked to his penis. Another day I imagined that someone had remarked crassly, “I thought it’d be bigger.” I tried to understand what it must feel like to be in a locker room, casually glancing at the other penises trying to compare and see how the others measured up. I tried to remember if I’d seen penises that were smaller than his. I tried to remember how much larger the bigger ones were. But I couldn’t. It was like I had the penis-memory-blinders on. His was the only penis I could recognize in the genitals line-up of my mind. I loved him, so therefore I loved his penis.
I started thinking about self deprecation. While making fun of ourselves is certainly a human characteristic and makes for some of the funniest standup comedy, often self deprecation is just a shroud to hide our insecurities behind. Make the joke first so no one else has the opportunity to beat you to the punch. Because, surely, you’re just saying what they’re all thinking anyway…right?
Well, they’re certainly all thinking it now that it’s been pointed it out.
I have my own small penis complex.
Mine is a Madonna/whore complex. Not the material-girl kind, but the more virginal sort. I make jokes about being promiscuous, slutty, tawdry. Bawdy and loud, I may be; a whore, I’m not. But in a workplace where slang and swearing is customary, I have to do my best to fit in with the boys club. And that means establishing an identity that is as much John Wayne as it is Mae West.
When I tell stories of my adventures, instead of classifying them as the normal moments in the life of a twenty-something on the dating scene, I sometimes feel the need to qualify it.
“Well, everyone has to have a slutty friend, and I’m yours,” I’ll joke at the end of talking about making out or a bad date or a one-night stand.
But the plan backfires when I talk about my small penis. By making the joke first I fool myself into believing that I have the power. But by doing this people think it’s perfectly fine to make jokes about what a tramp I am. And when someone quips, “She’ll make out with anyone,” I laugh along with the group, pretending that I’m not hurt. After all, I started it.
So as it turns out guy, the reason I never really minded your small penis is simple. It turns out I have one of my own.
-by Leah M. Charney
Published by Toy With Me, December 2009.