All About The Penis, Men & Male Sexuality

The power of the penis

Here's a piece sent in by a man with a penile problem....if you'd like to comment or have your own experience published, email   moreinfo   @

I was born with hypospadias - a condition where the opening of the penis is on the underside of the glans or shaft. My actual hypospadias wasn't too bad: but what goes with it has given me life-long problems, both emotional and psychological. In brief, I have a very small penis, that twists around through 45 degrees along the shaft between base and tip, and a hooded foreskin which incompletely covers the glans.

I always knew something was wrong, even from a very early age. I don't know how, because I never saw my dad's or my brother's penis - we were so inhibited in our family, there was a huge amount of repression or shame around anything sexual, even just the natural human body. Maybe it was something I sensed in the toilets at school, because I think I was always careful to keep my penis hidden when other boys were around.

But I think it goes deeper, down to some kind of cultural or body knowledge about what you need to be male, about what actually makes up maleness - and the penis is the essence of that perception of maleness. A deep self-knowledge of being male which centers on the penis. Ergo, if your penis is abnormal, you aren't fully masculine.

Anyhow, perhaps because of the small size of my penis, it had a habit of retracting into itself, and disappearing, making it look even smaller. This attracted comments at school swimming lessons; for example, one boy, who certainly liked showing his penis off, saw mine and exclaimed "Your dick's disappeared - but don't worry, it'll pop out when you go for a pee!"

Well, the thing was, I just assumed that it would grow at puberty like everyone else's - but how wrong I was. As hair sprouted around everyone's cock, the boys in my class showed signs of growth - both of the body and of the penis; in some cases quite dramatic penile growth. My penis stayed resolutely the same size.

Now, this may seem hard to believe, but it does happen. There's some evidence that for a boy whose penis does not grow at puberty, rapid intervention with testosterone treatment can save the situation - but that cannot always be true, for some men have a greater or lesser degree of insensitivity to testosterone in the tissues of their body, and this fact alone means that they are not going to develop as great a degree of masculinity as "everyone" else.

I think in retrospect, this was what happened to me and my penis - that I have some mild genetic condition where my body tissues don't respond to  testosterone as they ought to - and that this is the cause of my lack of penile development.

Be that as it may, there I was at school with a twelve year old's pre-pubertal penis, among a class of growing boys whose penises all seemed long and thick - the odd snatched glance in the changing room was enough to show me the discrepancy between my penis and the other kids' penises - though there were a few other boys who liked to hide their sexual organs from public this day I'm not sure why, though I assume they had small penises as well, or perhaps they were just shamed by the whole concept of exposing their genitals in public.

Of course, looking back, the whole system was awful. Public nudity would never be forced on and adult in a civilized society - so why should it be forced on children? Having to strip off in the locker room whether they like it or not is an abuse of kids. (I believe this situation has now been changed in Britain.) And of course, it would never have occurred to us to protest - to say, "no", and I'm sure in some schools this refusal would have resulted in a beating.

But in any event, I had the embarrassment of being exposed one summer in the changing room. My penis was about half an inch long, retracted, and my balls completely scrunched up in my scrotum, as they always have been when cold.

Another boy, whose erect penis, so he later told me, was ten inches long when he was 17, whipped away my towel and exposed my shriveled little penis, the size of preadolescent boy's, to public gaze. Though only he saw it, his laughter was utterly traumatizing.....and it inhibited me from seeking any sexual contact for years, let alone undressing in public!

The impact on my capacity to form relationships was immediate and profound - I didn't actually sleep with a woman until I was 19, and for all those missed years, I felt deprived of an essential part of my male self-esteem - my capacity to be proud of my erection and to identity with my hard phallus. (This was what taught me the importance of the phallus to men, and the significance f the male erection in terms of male self-esteem.) 

Relationships were anathema to me - the fear of being humiliated was so great. Only years later, when I had learned much more about myself and life could I face the prospect of being exposed in a relationship. I used the techniques you can find in this remarkable relationship program - find out more here - to establish a long term liaison with a woman.

But there will be many men who can identify with the trauma of that experience, I'm sure, and though that certainly was one of the chief events which shaped my life, my attitude to myself, and my feelings about sex and intimacy, it's not really the point of what I'm trying to express here. That's much more about the power of the penis in the male psyche.

But I digress, once again. Imagine if you will, growing up as an adult man with something like a child's penis, and what this means.

(I should add that my erection is an OK size - about five inches, but thin; but this was the size it was before I went into my puberty - a very mild puberty it was too, with some pubic hair growth, a little body hair, sparse facial hair, and so on.  And as far as my erection is concerned, I must have one of the most expanding penises around - it can grow by five inches from its smallest form to its largest.)

The odd thing is that I don't think I fully realized - or maybe this was just a matter of not being able to accept the fact - that my penis was (and remains) basically pre-pubertal until I was aged forty or so. I think there are several reasons for this.

First, it's what I knew. How can you fully understand something you never had? I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about it, even though of course I knew I had a problem - especially in the winter weather, when my penis tended to disappear for what seemed like days at a time!

Second: how often do men see other men's penises? Not really very often, and certainly if you feel your own dick is smaller than average, you're not likely to spend a lot of time snooping around the changing rooms....especially if a big swinging dick struts around, as they sometimes do. Believe me, where penis size is concerned, discretion is the better part of everything....

Third, I did have a reasonable sized erection - which is to say that my very extensive research had turned up the fact that lots of men have smaller erections that me - four inches is not uncommon, for example. But it's the stage of my penis's development that is the biggest issue for me, not my erection size, which is perfectly good for making love (as now, later in life, I have discovered!).

I went out on a mission at age 27 or so - to find out about penises. You'll see it written that many men with hypospadias are obsessed with penises, and this can lead them to think they are gay. Well, the truth is that while some of them may indeed be gay, most men with hypospadias are not gay at all - they are obsessed with normality, with finding out what a normal penis looks like: and this leads them to have sex with men, sometimes very frequently.

For me, getting naked was a big deal, so big in fact that it inhibited my sexual exploration, but I still managed to investigate (for want of a better word) a lot of men's penises...the catch was, I only met men with hypospadias - and that didn't really expose me to normal penises.

Particularly as I was going after the smaller ones, too! (No doubt to preserve my fragile self-esteem.) I did meet one guy with hypospadias and a massive cock, but I suppose it's was easy for me to dismiss the evidence of one penis when nearly all the others I saw were not so different from mine....

Later I joined a therapy group for men with genital abnormalities, and found that even there my penis was one of the smallest in the group, but somehow I must have still been in denial about what I now know to be my truth. The place where enlightenment dawned was a men's group where we all get naked and dance around the forest: a place I've gone because I want to understand masculinity and be in the company of men.

I should add at this point that I happen to think that nakedness is pretty much our natural state - even though I know that tribal people cover up the male and female genitals, I think the shame around nudity is a recent phenomenon in human evolution.

So prancing around the forest naked with a group of men is to me quite natural - it's a kind of back to basics adventure, a kind of grown up play - and very therapeutic it can be too....all those penises naked - it tends to strip away pretensions.

But the point for this essay is that there, at last, I was forced to confront my reality. My penile reality, that is. Sure, the penises on display were all sizes and shapes, but they were all adult penises.

By this I mean, for example, that while they may have been thick or thin, most were more or less average in length, or while they may have been the type of penis that disappears into its owners body when flaccid leaving only the glans showing (as several were), or while they may have been thick and long and resting hugely on a massive pair of balls (as one was), they were all clearly adult penises.

Sure, that's a definition which to me seems to rest more on the thickness of the flaccid shaft than anything else. (Another key is the enlarged glans, which I think is proportionately bigger than a little boy's.) But whatever it is, there is something that distinguishes the adult penis from the boy's - and it isn't just size.

So, whatever that thing is, I haven't got it. (So, let's say it's the thickness of the shaft, because otherwise I'm going to start start thinking it's something in my head, not my cock - and it isn't. It's a physical reality!)

Now, what does this mean? Let me answer that question by referring to the intangible sense of masculinity that I mentioned earlier. Some will say that a man's sense of masculinity comes from his head, not his balls or his penis, but I think that the truth is more complex.

It's the presence of a normal penis which allows a man to develop a true sense of his masculine self. Without a normal penis, without the normal development of that normal penis at puberty, something is lacking from a man's psyche - some essential ingredient of his male being is not complete, not present.

It's hard to pin this "something" down - I never had it. I got my sense of masculinity from developing it myself, slowly and purposefully, in many different way - by surrounding myself with men who were good role models for me, by delving deep into the depths of my psyche in therapy, by modeling and copying male behavior that struck me as ethical and moral, and by developing my own views on how men behave.

And of course - a crucial part of developing my masculinity was finding a good relationship with a woman and exploring what it means to be male when the penis is used for its chief function - sexual intercourse.

Let me say this: unless your penis is small you cannot fully understand the power of the penis in the male psyche. And by "small", I don't mean you have a penis which grew at puberty but it looks smaller than other men's when you're naked and then grows to normal size when you're erect - after all, that's normal, isn't it?

A large proportion of men are "growers" not "showers"...and even though they may think they are hard done by because they don't have a penis which flops around like a big swinging dick when it's flaccid, it seems a bit perverse to wish for this when you have a normal sized erection.

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