Penis-measurers of the world, breathe easy: you have been validated. A new study, carried out by sexuality researchers at Indiana University, has found that the average erect penile size is exactly 14.15 cm (that’s 5.57 inches). That number is notable not because it differs from previous studies, but just the opposite: it’s quite in line with prior research, “suggesting that men likely self-report data accurately—or at least reliably—to research teams.” (A choice excerpt: “Although many men may wish their penis were larger and may expend significant effort toward penile enlargement, this does not necessarily mean that men over-report their penile size to researchers.”)
Carrying out a scientifically accurate study on erect penile size is hard difficult, it turns out, because most men have a strange tendency not to develop a full erection while being coldly observed by scientists wielding measuring sticks. Strange. Which is why studies such as this one must rely on men to self-report their sizes, which can also, err, arouse suspicion about the accuracy of this study, for obvious reasons: how do we know these penis stats confirm prior penis stats if these penis stats also rely on self-reported penises? It’s a penis paradox!
Cleverly, Dr. Debby Herbenick incentivized men to be honest, as she explains on Psychology Today:
Unlike most previous studies of self-reported penis size, [subjects] had good reason to report accurate data to us because we were using their size data to match them to a condom that was sized to fit their erect penis. If they reported a bigger-than-reality size to us, they would get a baggier condom. If they reported a smaller-than-reality size to us, the condom would be too tight.
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If there is one thing that all men, straight, gay, bi or asexual, obsess over, it is penis size.
This week, Conner Habib is back with a brand new ask the sexpert, where he addresses one reader’s concerns over his tiny penis. Turns out, we may all have a little bit of body dysmorphia when it comes to that organ.
Drew Rowsome for FAB
No Fab body issue, especially one containing the 2013 Fab Gay Sex Survey, would be complete without a long and hard-hitting discussion of the penis. Fortunately, penises seem to be a regular topic du jour at Fab.
First to arrive at the office was a new app called The Predicktor, which purported to forecast penis size. The interface is fun and fast, so we entered our colleagues’ stats — height, ring finger size, shoe size, butt size (?), gay or straight, et cetera — and then gleefully compared the resulting estimates. We were intrigued to discover that the Fab office has a larger than average number of larger than average members.
Dr Christopher Culligan, the creator of The Predicktor, explains: “I’m not saying that there aren’t guys with eight- or nine-inch penises, but most guys don’t know that five and a half inches is average. Guys are so exposed to porn from such an early age that people think 10 inches is normal, eight inches is normal.” That being said, gay men’s penises are, according to Culligan’s research and the Kinsey Institute, longer and wider, on average, than the straight variety.
Culligan believes we are in the grip of an epidemic of small-penis syndrome. “I keep finding in my practice that more and more boys are coming in and saying, ‘My penis is small.’ I want to reduce that anxiety, make people feel better about themselves. There are tons of articles and studies out there, and there is no way to make a penis larger except the surgery that cuts the anchoring ligament. You’ll get more length flaccid, but you’ll just be flapping in the wind.”
Having chronicled my own misadventures with a penis-enlargement device [“When Size Matters: Investigating a New Penis Enlarger and Its Effect on One’s Head,” Fab #394, March 17, 2010], I can commiserate. Culture, especially gay culture, does put an emphasis on size. In Fab’s four previous sex surveys, only one respondent, at 14 inches, complained of being too large. And while the majority claim to be happy with their penis size, the comments contain many variations on “I wouldn’t complain about having a bit more” or “Who is really?”
Culligan seems to have hit the zeitgeist; The Predicktor is, at the time of our interview, the top-grossing paid app on Google Play. Yet Culligan is not sure he is having the right effect. “It’s meant to tackle stigma, a way to reach people. People purchase it thinking they’re going to look at their own penis or predict the size of strangers’. The real idea is to have fun with a bunch of guys, interact with it, take the myths out and expose them. I want to make it more social, break the taboo. I envisioned a group-fun app for use in the cafeteria, bar or schoolyard to make people feel less angst.” Fab certainly had fun with The Predicktor, and I’m pretty sure all of us were a little more proud of our little soldiers after the congenial cyber comparisons.
The emphasis on size is strange to Culligan (perhaps it takes a gay man, or at least a bottom, to appreciate the difference a mere half inch can make). “It’s like straight guys wanting big breasts. What do you do with them? It’s almost like a collector looking for that rare thing. Like a hunter keeps gunning for a rarer and rarer beast to shoot and hang on their wall.”
Culligan’s mission is noble and complements his other apps that predict alcohol abuse, anxiety and depression — all three of which can be brought on by small-penis syndrome. He admits that The Predicktor is “titillating and will help the others get attention. But hopefully, it will also be one more little positive thing for a kid in Sudbury.”
Culligan is not alone in his quest. Dr Dudley Seth Danoff sent Fab a copy of his new book, Penis Power: The Ultimate Guide to Male Sexual Health. The book is breezy and self-helpy but also makes some pertinent penile points. Danoff believes that men have unrealistic expectations of their penises and are psychologically destroyed when the little brain has a mind of its own. “If you become absolutely at ease with your penis, the quality of your life will dramatically change for the better,” Danoff writes, before exploding myths about size, premature ejaculation, erections and just about everything penis-related. Men are fed so much misinformation and have such inflated expectations that they are bound to feel inadequate, he says. “Accept and enjoy” is his advice.
Danoff wants all men to experience “penis power” and to become what he dubs “Superpotent Men.” Penis Power and The Predicktor do cause one to reconsider one’s relationship with the body part that rules the roost from inside one’s pants. Talking about our penises can only do us good, and the 2013 Fab Gay Sex Survey is the ideal place to start. We’ll show you ours if you show us yours.