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On Dicks, Pics & Fiddlesticks: Sex and Convention in 2015

5 August 2015 Posted by No Comment

Ideal Penis

On Sunday we sat down with the cast of the Irish Curse.  Five men. Five small penises. Five perspectives on life. It’s funny. It’s sad. It’s very, very real. Some of us watching this play will no doubt identify with what is being said, for at some point, perhaps as a testosterone riddled teenager, we’ve measured length and girth. We may have even compared notes. We would’ve, should’ve, and could’ve have lied of course… but the lie is one we then tell ourselves to make us feel better about what hangs between our legs. Perhaps it doesn’t hang. Perhaps it peeps out from a nest of pubic hair and finally makes sense of that childhood image of “birdie” our parents tried so hard to convince us of, and perhaps now we attack that pubic hair with all the ferocity of wielding a weed-whacker in order to gain us another inch or so, at least. Be gentle, it’s very tender and sensitive down there. Bleeds easy. Remember the stuck zips, tears and screams.  How you just read tears will tell you of your experience. Be gentle.

So what is the going rate for a penis in our part of the world?

“The flaccid penile circumference in South Asian males ranges from 3.14 to 4.13 inches and the flaccid penile length ranges from 2.36 to 4.92 inches. The erect penile circumference range from 3.66 to 5.11 inches and the erect penile length ranges from 3.74 to 5.70 inches.”  – Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters 

This study and the rest, be it the Durex Definitive Penis Survey, or the pioneering research by Kinsey, are all dependent on what men say. In ‘God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis’ (SOFT SKULL PRESS, Berkeley) Hickman in the chapter  titled, Lies, Damned Lies and Self-Measurements,  discusses how even independent observers and record keepers may not have all the facts, or simply, all the penises, to arrive at an objective conclusion.

“The medical profession continues to measure penises; between 2007 and 2010 at least fifteen different studies were published, all of them hands-on. What now seems to be the focus of attention is the likelihood that men who know or think they are below average are unlikely to volunteer to be sized up, or allow themselves to be, meaning that the averages could be lower than those recorded.”

So why do we care so much? Why do we have this relationship with our penis that we rarely have with any other body part? Remember the episode in Friends where Joey promotes the Little Major to Little General for valour during its last tour of duty? Do popular cultural references reflect what we think, or are we driven by what popular culture deems the ideal? Does ready access to pornography, and the penis-growing techniques, supplements, and equipment advertised next to the video of Bad Bobby Banana bouncing and banging away, somehow morph our reality? What about the full frontal nudity and live action sex on HBO and SHOWTIME? Does this challenge our self-worth? We know just about enough to tell the difference between White Walkers, Dragon Queens and reality, yet, Khal Drogo’s two foot dongle makes our jaws drop for real.

Leonardo Da Vinci, mirror-writing in one of his notebooks stated:

“[The Penis] has dealings with human intelligence and sometimes displays an intelligence of its own; where a man may desire it to be stimulated, it remains obstinate and follows its own course; and sometimes it moves on its own without permission or any thought by its owner.”

We’d probably agree with Da Vinci. It happens. Sophocles claimed that to possess a penis is to be chained to a madman. We’d probably agree with him too. He wrote Oedipus Rex. He understands the human condition.

Yet, our everyday, sunny-rainy-gloomy day experiences and memories whisper that despite all the protestations – “It’s alive, it’s alive, Igor, it’s alive!” – we know we’re in control. Even when we apparently relinquish control to the penis, in the very act of relinquishing we allow for us to control what’s coming 🙂

This is the reality for most of us. We distance ourselves from those who hear voices in their head telling them to rape and abuse and destroy. We opine that their life experience and/or genetic soup have different, separate, abhorrent ingredients. We are not them. They are definitely not us. We remain in control and don’t act upon any of the impulses that may place us at odds with convention. No? The man masturbating behind the shop counter opposite a girl’s school gate at closing time is not us. No? The guy rubbing himself up against the woman in sari in a crowded 138 bus is not us. No? We don’t even take that bus. We just don’t behave like that in the real world. We’re different.

Have you ever taken a dick-pic? This involves focusing your mobile phone, or any other device that has a camera, on your penis. Of course you could just use a camera too, that works. Would you then compare this dick-pic with other dick-pics? Do you think it happens? Sri Lanka doesn’t really have a locker-room culture, as Dino reminded us. We’re too shy. We don’t want to sneak a peek or compare dongles. He may be right. In the Oxford Baths at school I remember only two occasions where I showered naked in the presence of team mates. It was dusk on both occasions. Flattering dimness. I don’t necessarily remember the sizes of our flaccid penises, but I do recall not being overawed, and so, grateful.  What I do remember clearly though is my fellow lock forward pinching close his foreskin, urinating till it looked like it may pop, and then in one gush let out a yellow flood on the cement floor. He called it “Pettah Bombing”. We men like to play with our penises. Fact. We may even dress them up, paint them (edible colours) and gently caress them back to health in the event they’d been through any trauma. Try riding a camel for an hour. Yet, what used to be usually a private affair is becoming, or has become, public.

Since May of this year, we’ve been dealing with the sharing of naked pictures over various social media platforms. It is safe for us to assume that the bulk of these pictures were not intended for public consumption. It was brought to our notice by a young victim of what we’re now calling cyber exploitation or violence. Her naked picture, taken with the express intention of sharing only with her boyfriend, is somehow out.  Over these last few months, we very quickly learnt that she is not alone. Girls and women, and apparently some boys and men, across the country have similarly been victims of cyber exploitation. It is increasingly organized and methodical, and the information we’ve received or unearthed is indicative of a sub-culture that most of us are struggling to comprehend. Yet, our incredulity has necessarily given way to quiet acceptance. As Gehan reminded us, this is not just about girls and boys in schools. We’ve learnt that girls/women and boys/men look upon this as part of intimacy and love, regardless of the apparent eventuality that gives rise to what some still call Revenge Porn.

‘The word “revenge” suggests that there is a legitimate reason to lash out and that’s not present in these cases. And the term “porn” suggests the victim intended [the images] would be distributed publicly—that’s just inaccurate. Those terms also invite judgment and questions about the morals or the appropriateness of the behaviors of these women when, in fact, they’re victims. I prefer the term cyber exploitation because that’s really what’s happening here.’ – Revenge Porn Has Met Its Match, and Her Name Is Kamala Harris (California Attorney General), 24th June 2015

What Kamala Harris underpins is the careful tread with which we need to approach this phenomenon. Suspend judgment and revalue values. We need to address and challenge an evolution of human behavior. Yes, this is not new. Anyone with a penis knows this. We love nudity and nakedness. We also appear to love it more if it’s not faceless. Run through the list of sexual fantasies in your head and try and identify a faceless partner. Possible?

The viral sharing of these naked pictures can’t surprise us if we understand how strong identity is to us. These are girls we either know, know of, or at the very least we know the type… or we think we do. Remember when Jennifer Lawrence’s naked pictures were leaked after her ICLOUD account was hacked? The grainy images of a topless Princess Diana taken with a telephoto lens by clawing paparazzi miles away? Were we shocked to learn that Kim Kardashian’s mother allegedly released her daughter’s sex tape thereby launching their career of being famous for being famous? The voyeur in us is alive and well, and vicarious pleasure, constant. Internet service providers and television networks are acutely aware of this.

But,  I am still to see a Sri Lankan dick-pic. Yes, there are anecdotal accounts, but of over 1000 pictures that Grassrooted has analyzed there is not one picture of a boy or man. There could be a plethora of reasons: boys are not as comfortable with their bodies as girls; girls are less likely to share their boyfriends’ pics; boys are better at convincing/coercing girls to share intimate pictures; there is a dick-pic database out there which we still don’t have access to… if you speak with victims of cyber exploitation, and young people who engage with this subculture, we learn that there is no one answer. Yet, what is clear is that those who are organizing, sharing and very possibly selling these pictures are profiting from the transience of teenage relationships.

Think back. What we said to each other over phones in the 80s and 90s, if it had been recorded, may mortify us. We may cringe to read the words of undying love professed in a Hallmark greeting card in our best handwriting. Even the sexts we sent would definitely embarrass us. Yet, all these still have some level of anonymity, and definite deniability. It wasn’t me. With naked pictures though, all we have is photoshop. It is a decent defense. Photoshopped pictures of famous stars prancing around naked or engaged in sexual intercourse are getting better every day with the available technology. You can hardly tell the difference. Ask Emma Watson. If someone knows what we look like naked though, or recognizes the bottle of shampoo next to the bathroom mirror, or the print of the bed sheet…

Pasan talked about how kids are getting more and more sexualized today. Again, ask Emma Watson. She was sexualized as a kid. Everyone wanted to fuck Hermione Granger. Sounds wrong, doesn’t it? Yet, the sexualization of kids is not new. Our pursuit of purity, chastity and virginity over the ages, while possibly containing biological imperatives (Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, Harper Collins) forced us to focus on children sexually. This was not pedophilia. This was accepted cultural practice.  Today, the virtual world is still replete with examples. Japanese Anime Porn depicts monster penises ripping apart school girl vaginae. We may find this abhorrent, but it’s not just the Japanese that view these sites. The sense of power and control and everything else that is suggested as motivation for rape and violence in the real world (A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts) is depicted in these cartoons and allows for a fulfillment of… fantasy?

As the categories of a porn site suggest, everyone appears to be at odds with convention. Ever clicked on Gang Bang or Granny? What about Tranny? What kind of porn turns us on as we fiddle with our sticks? What does it tell us about who we really are? Have we fiddled with our phones and cameras too? Andre suggested a I’ll-show-you-mine-you-show-me-yours transaction.  True? Think about pictures we may have taken, the short videos, the pictures sent to us when we were away from those we loved and trusted… where are these pictures now? Do we still have a couple saved on our phone for those long sleepless nights when nostalgia weighs us down? Have we ever received and shared pictures of someone we know or know of? It’s their fault for taking the picture. Idiots. Mutts. What were they thinking?!  What makes you take that picture? Why document your penis or vagina? Has pride somehow overtaken self-worth and being comfortable-with-my-body?

Perhaps the truth is that convention is at odds with convention. And so, we need to explore whether our kids who share naked pictures (or “nudes” as some of the girls termed it) are really at odds with convention too?  If you see some of the images and videos we’ve gathered you’d recognize the provocative poses and porn star rear-ending,  twerking in front of the bathroom mirror just like on MTV, and pouting lips that belong on the cover of a men’s magazine, for sale at most supermarkets, just by the check-out queue. And yesterday we read an article on a dildo with a camera. The pictures would resemble an invasive medical examination…

How do we teach our kids to be discerning in a culture that celebrates the freedom to do?

Our purveyors of values and morals and our conservative culture mongers need to find relevance. To do so, they need to confront the realities of 2015. Parents and responsible adults must find ways to create a dialogue with our children, with our young people, and not shy away from what could possibly be embarrassing, at first. Dominic stressed the need not to scare children, an open and frank discussion about what is out there and how we respond. We need to talk. We need to listen. We need to find ways to accept each other and still remain consistent and true to the norms and mores we have created, and accept that these are in a state of flux, just like us. The cast all agreed on the need for some form of sex and/or relationship education in schools. Why wouldn’t they? They’re intelligent. They’re in touch. They see. We just wish that the powers that be, the Ministries of Education, Health, Justice, Women’s Affairs, Child Affairs, to begin with, were as matter of fact, as rooted in reality, and had or have the (political) will to act.

Our journey is both the longest and shortest thing we’ll ever do. Our penises too. Remember, if it is small when flaccid, you maybe a grow-er. And if it’s large when flaccid, you maybe a show-er. What matters is when it is fully erect. And then too, what matters is what you do with it, and whom you do it with. For Andre, the ideal penis is his penis, and who are we to disagree.

The Irish Curse goes on the boards in a couple of days, Friday 7th at the Lional Wendt, and will run till 9th Sunday. See you there. Bring a six inch ruler.

On Dicks, Pics & Fiddlesticks – Video 

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