When talking about penis size, it’s almost always framed in banter in the men’s locker room or in the schoolyard. But when guys aren’t joking about it, they are doing a hell of a lot of serious thinking about it. It’s also one of the highest search terms on Google, meaning that clearly a lot of men have questions but don’t quite know who to ask or where to start.
The people doing this searching, let’s be honest, aren’t the ones thinking: Hey, I have a really big penis. The questions around it are: Is mine normal? And in an even tinier voice: is mine too small?
It’s subject matter that comedian and actor Patrick Moote knows all too well: he made a documentary about the size of his penis.
Cliff notes on Patrick: he tried to propose to his girlfriend on the Mistletoe Cam at a basketball game in 2012. He was rejected – in public – and the video of said rejection went viral. When Patrick (off camera) asked his now ex-girlfriend why she said no: the answer came down like the Sword of Damocles. Among other reasons, his penis was too small.
So began the idea of Unhung Hero. He had to re-live being called ‘Paddy Pickle Dick’ by his old schoolmates (who he is still friends with), visited Korea which allegedly has the biggest number of small penises in the world (FYI the plural of penis is not penii).
And he got an answer to a burning question that so many men – including himself - wanted to know: does penis size matter?
Talking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle about whether society places too much importance on it, he said: “Yes we do. The way people talk about it makes it seem more important than it is. Porn also gives it a weight that it shouldn’t have – the size, how women react to it being so big.
“The first time I saw another man’s penis was on the internet and it was a completely unfair representation of what a standard penis actually looks like. It also gives a really skewed version of what being intimate is – the guy’s penis looks like a baby’s arm and the woman is screaming like she’s being murdered.”
A big part of the penis size issue is that guys just don’t want to talk about it with each other. The fact is, Patrick says, that if they did talk about it, they’d realise that the guy who is meant to be ‘above average’ and the guy who is ‘below average’ are still within an inch of each other.
“There isn’t a huge sliding scale,” he adds. “I always knew I didn’t have a big penis I just didn’t want to talk about it. During the documentary I realised it could be worse. I don’t have some sort of condition like a micro-penis.
“Also the more I became exposed, the more I realised that the idea of what I had in my head of what a big penis is supposed to be like – that is 1% of the population and it’s freakishly big.”
Negative body image then, is not just something young girls and women are vulnerable to. The pressures are undoubtedly worse for women – and this is something Patrick wholeheartedly agrees with – but there is an issue of body image for young boys.
“Women have been under pressure for a very long time – it’s deeper ingrained - but it is becoming a thing for men,” he says.
“What’s tough about this situation is that they’re attacking you as a man and as a man, you can’t admit to be hurt by it or put off by it. There is a lot of dialogue about women being objectified – you can’t do that with men even though they may feel it.”
In the documentary, there is a very painful moment when Patrick returns to his home town in Atlanta, and interviews his friends. That’s when he learned that his nickname Paddy Pickle Dick wasn’t just boys bantering, but it was based on a story an ex girlfriend shared after they dated, saying his penis was small.
That kind of ribbing looked like it still hurt, and Patrick says it did.
“I felt I was 14 and I had no way to defend myself. I felt exposed. I knew about the nickname and always brushed it off. I wasn’t aware it was connected to a person’s actual experience. It wasn’t until we were doing the interview, that was the first time I heard the actual story. It hurt. What you saw was raw. I felt trapped – it was horrible. They’re like: “Hey bro, we’re just joking around, this is all good”
“I’m like: this is NOT all good!”
Insecurities about penis size, compared to handsome you may be, has to be treated differently. There is different connotation, a different connection and perhaps if we understand this better, we can come to terms with it.
Patrick thinks that everyone to a certain degree is under pressure. Pressure from the media plays a big part. The difference however, in terms of insecurity levels is that yes there may be external pressures but there is no getting round that “it’s your reproductive organs and it’s what makes you a man.”
Patrick adds: “We came across sexual selection while filming and there are certain birds in the jungle that grow brighter feathers to attract a mate. There is something to that as to why we are so fixated.
“Society puts pressure on people in general – if you don’t have a badass car or an amazing job you’re not a man– and there are so many ways to break down being a man.”
So down to the big question: does penis size matter?
During the documentary, Patrick spoke to professors and came to within an inch of undergoing a really scary-looking treatment that involved sticking a needle into his penis.
And the end answer was that penis size does matter to some. “When I started this whole thing, I thought I’d make this documentary to show penis size didn’t matter. But I’m not going to lie – half the time it really does matter to people and it is an issue.
“But sometimes I date girls shorter than I like, and I think penis size is as important as finding someone who has the sense of humour that you like but there are other people who aren’t looking for that kind of stuff.
“One situation that proved how differently people think was when we were interviewing an African American family in Seattle – they were going to get on a cruise. The mother and father were saying size doesn’t matter but the daughter was like, penis size does matter. And then the gay son chimes in and says it’s true, penis size does matter. They were still talking about it when they got on the cruise ship.”
The advice that Patrick has for other men is one of self-acceptance. And the realisation that sometimes penis size matters in sex and sometimes it really doesn’t.
“About 30% of women have an orgasm through penetration, and also the average vagina 3.5 inches deep. As long as your penis is above that, you’ll be fine.
"What I realised is the more you embrace the insecurities the less people are likely to be able to break down. What I realised is it takes more energy and time to change things about yourself that you can’t than it does to accept them. I’m way better about my insecurities because I can try to accept them or try to change them.”