So, last week, Le French published some new research revealing the true size of an average penis. Boffins at the National Academy of Surgery in Paris conducted the study to address what it considers to be an alarming increase in the numbers of men opting for penis enlargement - something they believe is the result of 'locker room syndrome'.
Angel Merkel (looking, we presume, at President Sarkozy). Photo: PA
"The feeling of having an insufficiently-large penis can be a source of anxiety and psychological suffering for a man," a statement from the academy said, adding that enlargement procedures carry a "risk of certain complications, in particular regarding erections." Naturally, after reading all the 'hard facts about men's genitalia!' headlines, and sniggering at the many gratuitous shots of young, fit men's groins all over the news websites, I continued reading to discover what those magic numbers were. Here you are, if you haven't seen them elsewhere (*carefully checks for typos*): Length: (flacid) between 9 and 9.5cm; (erect) between 12.8 and 14.5cm Girth: (flacid) between 8.5 and 9cm; (erect) between 10 and 10.5cm.
Armed with that almost completely useless information, I found myself thinking "doh, Le French! What did you go and do that for?!" Because, as well meaning as it is all supposed to be, in this western world size most certainly does matter, in pretty much every way: the bigger the better (penis, boobs, pecks, dazzlingly white smile); or the smaller the better (bum, tummy, nose, waist, ears), we are constantly being told we're not quite good enough unless various parts of us measure up (or down). In this sort of environment, who wants to discover they are average?
I don't know about you, but I frequently receive (very poorly targeted) spam emails inviting me to 'increase my manhood'; my Facebook page is always being infiltrated by advertisements telling me I can lose 2lb of belly fat in 15 minutes (just like Cheryl Cole did apparently), or that I can spend a fiver and look approximately 25 years younger. We can't move for invitations to 'better ourselves', to meet the ideal, to be young, thin and busty, or built like a house and hung like a donkey.
It is impossible to escape. The fact is, the vast majority of chaps who turn up wanting surgery to lengthen their penises are completely normal down there - and don't tell me a guy who has decided to take the length of his member into his own hands (as such) has not already had the tape measure out and checked his figures against the published average. Incidentally, those new French numbers might actually mean fewer jolly todgers in the UK.
Anyone who was worried about their dimensions and made the sensible move of checking the stats on the NHS website (rather than on the myriad sites which pop up on Google, selling pills that promise an extra four inches in length) might be disappointed to learn that their published average flacid length of 6-10 cm has been usurped. So I can't help wondering, when it comes to penis comparison, and all the bravado/inferiority complexes that apparently come with it, whether Le French have done more harm than good with their number crunching.
It seems to me their report, which was designed to discourage men from feeling inadequate, but actually tells the majority "hey, you know what, you're no better than the next guy!", might be more likely to have the opposite effect. Wouldn't they have been better off conducting research that conclusively proved (with science and everything) that the majority of women do not like huge great enormous penises and it's what you do with it that counts anyway?