In Praise Of The Penis

As of late, I’ve been rereading some of my old college textbooks (yes, I kept some of them), including the one from my Human Sexuality course. We never covered *everything* in the book, and I love learning more about the male and female bodies…In fact, I used this same book when writing my post about International Clitoris Week, and I was going to use it again when some form of “penis week” or “male genitals day” arrived.

Imagine my surprise when I did some further research and found that men don’t even have an International Penis Week. We have a Woman’s Month *and* an International Clitoris Week…but we don’t even have a single DAY to talk about the male genitals. Go figure.

Well, I may not be able to create a holiday single handedly, but I can damn sure write a post. So, without further ado, here we go. Time to learn more about the equally fascinating penis!

First, let’s start out with the basics of penis anatomy. There are 3 main parts to the penis: the head, the shaft, and the root. The shaft and head are what most people think of, as they are the external structures and are quite readily noticeable. (Duh.)

However, the root is important too, especially as this is where the penis attaches to the pelvic bones and muscles. These same muscles help to eject both urine and semen…so yeah, pretty damn important. The root cannot be seen, but it can be felt if the man presses up between his anus and scrotum while erect.

The shaft has 3 cylinders. Two of them (cavernous bodies) run side by side along the top of the penis and are what become filled with the most blood during an erection. The other cylinder (spongy body) lies underneath them, and while it also becomes slightly engorged, it’s more notable for the fact it contains the urethra.

The third part, the head, is also known as the glans. Depending on whether or not the man in question has been circumcised, the head of the penis may be covered with a foreskin, which acts as a protective “coat” to the glans. Though the entirety of the penis is sensitive and has many nerve endings, just about every man reports that the corona (upper ridge of the glans) and the frenulum (underside of the glans where it connects to the shaft) are particularly pleasurable.

Okay, so now that we know exactly what we’re talking about, how does this relate to a man’s sexuality?

Well, for one thing, a substantial number of men are concerned at least once in their life about size. The average length of an adult male’s penis is 5.5 inches, and the average girth is 4 inches. Some men (especially the actors portrayed in typical porn) have much larger ones, just as some men have micropenises (defined as being less than 3 inches in length when erect). Unfortunately, the majority of Western culture has kept the idea that Bigger = Better and has led to many a guy feeling inadequate or wondering if he’s truly “big enough” to satisfy his partner. What we *should* be doing is changing our culture to put more emphasis on whether or not ones genitals are healthy, STD free, and react well when pleasured…not creating apprehension where none is needed.

Another aspect of male sexuality that doesn’t get touched on enough is that of the faked orgasm. The media will quite willingly talk for hours about how women need to fake orgasms to ensure their man’s ego isn’t hurt, but in our current climate of one-night stands men are starting to find a need for this as well. I’ve personally spoken to a decent number of guys who claimed to have faked an orgasm because they just weren’t truly in the mood for sex but didn’t want to have their sexual orientation questioned. Though it’s easier to fake an orgasm with a condom on, at least 2 men I knew in college said they successfully convinced their girlfriends that “they just didn’t cum a lot” that time to explain the lack of excess fluids.

Guys are under constant pressure to be sexual…after all, a “Real Man” is always ready to go, and would never turn down a chance for sex, especially if the woman in question is attractive or is blatantly offering her own sexuality. However, this is proving to be untrue on many fronts, possibly because women can now be the “chasers” in the sexual arena where previously the man was responsible for nearly all sexual advances. It will be interesting to see how the upcoming generation will deal with this. Will equality be realized or shall traditional gender roles regarding sex reign?

One more thing that I wish I didn’t have to mention about male sexuality is the fact that it is not inherently dangerous or perverted, despite it’s representation in the media as being constantly aggressive or demanding. Men, like women, have different sexual appetites…sometimes changing from one day to the next. Men can enjoy cuddling, erotic massage, romantic sex, and prolonged foreplay as much as their female counterparts. Likewise, they can enjoy bdsm, power play, using sex toys, aggressive sex, and quickies. Wow, it’s almost as if individual men have sexual desires that are all over the place…just like individual women! It would be wise for society to recognize this, and stop making boys and men feel ashamed or scared of their natural desires and attractions.

Common Myths
All this being said, there are a few myths about the penis that should be cleared up.

1. An erection is only present when sex is on the mind.
Untrue. Again, just like women, men can experience erections or increased bloodflow to the genitals for a myriad of reasons. Medicinal side effects, nervousness, stress, intense workouts, or even driving along a bumpy road can cause erections in either sex. The hormonal changes during puberty are also culprits of unwanted “arousal”…be honest, how many men here were terrified of being called up to the chalkboard during class or had to deal with “morning wood” as they awoke? Women experience this too, but are lucky enough to have erections that are easily covered by typical clothing. There is also a condition (called satyrism, I believe) that means said man’s penis is constantly erect.

The important thing to remember is that physical readiness is not always an indicator of mental readiness, and partners should always have clear communication about whether or not both partners want sex. If you think your guy wants to get it on, but doesn’t respond to your advances…chances are he’s tired, sick, upset about something, or simply not in the mood. Respect his needs, or lack thereof.

2. The penis has a bone in it.
Nope. Despite being referred to as a “boner” in common slang, there are no bones in the human male penis (other animals *do* have penile bones, such as dogs.) An important thing to remember though, is that penises can be fractured. It happens extremely rarely, and (as far as my research has told me) only during rough/hurried woman-on-top sex…but it does occur. Thankfully, surgery is hardly ever necessary for such injuries, and the overwhelming majority of men return to the same sex lives they had before.

3. You can tell a man’s erect penis size by looking at him while he’s flaccid.
Also a myth, because of the fact that there’s Show-ers and Grow-ers when it comes to human males. A grower will have a small flaccid penis that becomes much bigger when erect, whereas a shower will have a large penis at all times. This is just another aspect of individual bodies, and has no bearing on sexual performance or penile health. So stop worrying…

That’s all I’ve got for now, though this is a huge topic with so many other avenues of conversation. As always, please be polite and respectful to others in the comments and if you think I skipped over something important, let me know. Otherwise, I hope you enjoyed this post, and have a better idea about just how awesome the penis and male sexuality can be!

15 thoughts on “In Praise Of The Penis

  1. To include one other important item; young boys are not discouraged to ‘touch’ themselves as much as their counterparts. Self exploration begins at an early age. -A

  2. @Angelwanderer

    I didn’t know that girls were discouraged any more than boys…I clearly remember touching myself when I was as young as 5, because it felt good and relaxed me. My grandmother (who I lived with till age 7) told me that touching myself is fine since it’s my body, but to not do so in public or when company was over. Fair rules, I thought. Are you saying that my grandmother’s views weren’t typical?

  3. Huh…well in that case I’m thankful for my grandmother and sympathetic to girls who aren’t taught that way.

    Why do you think little boys aren’t discouraged as much?

  4. A rhetorical question: does more understanding of something necessarily raise the appreciation for it? Or colloquially: does knowing “how a sausage is made” enhance one’s appetite for it? Would I enjoy this video more, knowing how much knowledge, skill and effort was poured into it?

  5. @Exfernal

    In general, the more I know about X the more appreciation I have for X. Not always, but I’d say for the majority of topics. This is probably why I have so many interests…

  6. Which part?
    Having gender dysphoria without a penis. Does that have any effect on how you experience yourself? Or not? Just curious.

  7. Well, if I had a penis, I wouldn’t have gender dysphoria…so there’s that. But if you mean how I feel about my sexuality, then I identify as being male, even without the larger anatomy.

    From what I’ve read and conversations I’ve had with cis women, I don’t experience arousal, thoughts of sex, or awareness of my body the same way they do. However, I do experience these things in a masculine fashion, so I consider myself to have a male sexuality type. For example, I’ve never met another woman who thinks about sex the amount I do or who feels constantly aroused. I’ve also yet to meet/speak to a woman who notices her morning erections or who has been woken up by wet dreams. Yet the majority of men seem to deal with these events, and understand what I’m referring to.

  8. The word for a pathologically persistent state of erection is actually “priapism”, after *Priapus*, an ancient Greek deity having to do with male procreative power, son of Dionysus, sometimes known as Bacchus, the god of fertility, and Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.

    So, the word “satyrism” isn’t the word you’re looking for. As a word, it may or may not be in use, whereas “satyriasis” is a word in use to denote an obsessive (male) appetite for sex. The female equivalent is a nymphomaniac, of course.

    And by “girth”, I trust you mean “circumference”. Jus’ sayin! 🙂

    Then, as long as we’re on the subject of anatomy AND, say, physiology, or function?— well, the male anatomy and physiology is a variable quantity depending upon the prevalence and aggressive degree of a certain, meddlesome little surgery…

    What most people don’t realize is that the tissue under attack, whether we’re talking about FGM (female circumcision, or female genital mutilation) or circumcision, aka MGM, is that it has the same physiology in both sexes. This tissue is not merely analogous in its physiology, it’s *homologous*. That’s *homo-*, “same”, -*log *, “word” or “thing”, and *-ous*, adjectival ending.

    It is primary erogenous tissue, the purpose of which is to trigger orgasm. If you remove enough of the stuff from an individual of either sex, you can render that individual autonomically anorgasmic. The word *autonomically* refers to the autonomic nervous system, that which takes care of bodily functions for you, as if automatically, under it’s own autonomy. Heart beat, breathing, digestion, certain other involuntary, small muscle motions, etc. as well as certain, umm, responses to certain, umm, stimuli? 🙂

    The phrase “autonomically anorgasmic” is one which I cooked up to describe a condition in which an individual doesn’t experience the desired physical response from ordinary, natural stimulation. And if the individual in question has never experienced this response from natural — or, shall we say, “nearly natural” means? 🙂 — and thus remains unaware of the objective of the stimulation, he or she may never develop any technique — mental or physical, or both — whereby this can be achieved, resulting in a true anorgasmia.

    Just speakin’ from some unfortunate experience in the matter, that’s all. But I DID get lucky as a lad. Johnson spontaneously spilled the beans one night after much torturous abuse, and what a story he had to tell! — and so, after that, I knew what I was trying to do, and after some years of practice, Johnson became somewhat more reliably responsive. Cheers.

    On the other hand, the most natural of methods, ordinary intercourse, was the least reliable method. And Johnson’s reliability has declined considerably with age and the inevitable decline in testosterone level in the male. Ah well.

    Yah, I was pretty severely trimmed. And yet I present no “deformity”. Of course, the operation is entirely a matter of DELIBERATELY CREATING a deformity, and thus, it’s NOTHING BUT a complication, as the “acceptable” result, but if we set aside THAT little sticking point for the moment, 😐 — the only “complication” that I present is invisible to the doc and obscure even to the owner: of the little tiny, teensy-weensy bit of this primary erogenous tissue I got left, the “bigger half” is numb.

    The highly sensitive tissue in question is found entirely on the inner surface of the foreskin when the organ is flaccid. And the amount of this sensitive tissue amputated is highly variable (both in the male and in the female practices). Most people, when they roll up a sleeve, roll it up on the outside, but the foreskin is like a sleeve rolled up underneath itself, with the “cuff” end of this “sleeve” attached at the “wrist”. Hence, the sensitive rim, or *corona* that is referred to in this article: it’s transitional tissue that includes some greater concentration of nerve endings as the surface tissue changes in character to that of the glans. I’ve got that, plus less than a millimeter of half-numb…

    “What’s up Doc?”— ’cuz it ain’t me, so much.

    See here for a perfectly tasteful little pencil drawing, from an Islamic website, no less. It’s a portrait of Pete with his little hoodie pulled up — one which will reveal a nifty little secret as to how the whole thing works after the deed is done: (Copy and paste, if necessary.)

    Now. Wasn’t that amusing? 🙂 (It also happens to be the most sensitive part of the most sensitive part. Odd, but true. Or so I have read…)

    The common misconception is that the *glans*, or “head” of the penis, is the hotspot, but this is not so. To keep this comment from getting way overlong, I’m not going to cite sources, or carry on at much greater length, so suffice it to say that the glans is pressure sensitive, not temperature, pain, or light-touch sensitive to any great degree. It is not the primary trigger zone, and, speaking from experience, it’s not of much use in the matter, at all. However, the unnatural tightness of skin resulting from a “tight” circumcision tends to put unnatural, constant pressure on this glans gadget, resulting in the boner from hell that won’t go away!— and yet you can’t do a damn thing with it.

    The overall thingy is actually quite a bit more complex than was realized – very much so! — even at the clinical level!— until the mid-90’s, so there’s so much more to say about it, but the key point that I’m making here is this: in the words of one wit—

    “The foreskin isn’t the candy wrapper, it’s the candy.”

    And, on some particularly well-endowed, fully grown males, this sensitive inner surface, when fully exposed and deployed, can be gently stretched to cover the entirety of the shaft. Most guys will get about half-a-shaft worth, at least. The whole damn thing is supposed to light up like a Xmas tree, and it’s all prewired, just— plug it in!


  9. I checked online and it appears you’re right about priapism vs satyrism/satyriasis. I’d be tempted to alert the authors or publishers of the textbook about their mistake…except that by now this book is over 10 years old and they have probably fixed it in more current editions. *sigh* And here I thought you could trust a text that cost over $200…

    Yup, girth usually means circumference, at least in my area.

    Yes, a good number of people who like to say “FGM and MGM aren’t the same” are absolutely wrong. You make a very good point about the potential difficulties that can affect parts of the ANS if certain tissues are no longer present (different than the CNS, or central nervous system).

    I am sorry to hear of your woes, especially as you had no say in whether such surgery should be done to your body. Why parents of either boys or girls believe they have this type of authority over such an intimate part of their child’s body, I’ll never know. The point is, whether it’s FGM or MGM, it’s completely unnecessary 99% of the time. Why subject *anyone* to medical procedures if it is not needed?

    I’d like to think more women know about the sensitivity of the frenulum and corona vs the sensitivity of the glans head…but it’s not like they teach you these things in school, unfortunately. I’m lucky that my FwB was/is a good teacher in regards to what the male body enjoys!

  10. The compulsion to name a day in the year after virtually everything that exists if peculiar to a country without any real history or tradition of its own. Mothers’ day (stolen from the Church’s “Mothering Sunday”), Fathers’ day – because insecure males might be upset without ‘their’ day and so on and depressingly so on. Now some idiot has decided there will be a clitoris day (international, no less although only known in the naive and cultureless USA.
    I despair of anything good emanating from that corrupt and benighted continent after this!

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