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“I’m Worried I Don’t Measure Up”: How Porn is Causing Countless Males to Panic About Penis Size

By October 2, 2019 No Comments
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Trivia time: What body part do males ask questions about on Google more than any other? More than their, “lungs, liver, feet, ears, nose, throat, and brain combined?” [1]

Their penis.

What are men most concerned about when it comes to steroids or aging? It’s not their health, but rather, their size.

So, what do these answers reveal about men?

According to Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, economist and former data analyst at Google whose work focuses on how data can reveal previously unknown attitudes and behaviors, these curiosities show that when it comes to sex and their performance, men have “enormous anxiety, with much of it displaced.” [2] In fact, he says that “many of [men’s] deepest fears about how our sexual partners perceive us are unjustified.”

And as we will see, this goes for both men and women. Both sexes seem to worry about certain parts of their anatomy even more than their partners do.

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What are men Googling about themselves?

Let’s take an example: Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most common questions males ask the internet about their genitalia regards its size—are they measuring up? What do women have to say about it? It turns out, not much. In fact, women rarely search for things related to their partner’s size, and when they do, almost half of their searches are about pain.

Get this: for every 1 search a woman makes online about her partner’s penis, men make 170 of their own. [3]

This data aligns with the numbers on body image that men face. Contrary to the idea that body insecurities are just a “female issue,” 39% of visits to sites for cosmetic surgery are done by men, and 20% of “how-to” searches are guys asking how to get rid of “man breasts.” [4]

What other numbers show that men are self-conscious about their bodies, and specifically the part that they search the most about?

Related: Uncovering The Trend Of Porn-Inspired Plastic Surgery For Men

Here’s just one: 40% of men with normal-sized penises go to the urologists’ office seeking penis enlargement surgeries thinking they are too small.

Surgical solutions to nonexistent problems

In fact, the number of men seeking these surgeries is going up. Though it is by no means in the top surgery in male cosmetic procedures, surgeons like Roberto Viel say he’s seen a 40% increase in these types of surgeries, called penoplasties. In fact, in four years, from 2013 to 2017, there were over 45,000 penis enhancements done globally.

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Here’s the catch—these numbers only show the guys that went through with an external enhancement for their anatomy, but there are many who, even if they don’t go through with surgery, will seek out fillers, pills, injections. Why the urge to seek out these usually ineffective or, at times, damaging tools? Why are men increasingly aware and concerned about their sexual organs to the extent these numbers are reflecting?

Comments like this may highlight the motivation: “I always just believed I was on the small side of average, and anyone that said otherwise was just trying to make me feel good or otherwise manipulate me.”

Related: What Consuming Porn Has To Do With Bad Sex And Low Self-Esteem

This obsession with size has been labeled by sex experts as “penile body dysmorphic disorder.” While it is not an official diagnosis, it’s considered a subcategory of body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, with a hyper-focus on the penis. It leads some men to “compulsively measure themselves over and over, avoid dating, practice home-enlargement techniques they see promoted on the internet and even seek penis enlargement surgery,” according to sex therapist Stephen Snyder.

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What is convincing men they don’t measure up?

But let’s go back to that first statistic, that 40% of men seeking surgery when they are, in fact, normal-sized. How did they get the idea they were too small? Urologist Aaron Spitz gives an answer in his book “The Penis Book: A Doctor’s Complete Guide to the Penis.”

RelatedWhat It’s Like To Be A 19-Year-Old Male With An Eating Disorder & Porn Addiction

Can you guess the culprit?

It’s porn.

Surprised? Us neither.

Research shows that explicit nude images can cause people (men and women alike) to overanalyze their own body parts and suffer from self-esteem issues. Not only that, but there have been studies demonstrating links found between porn consumption and, “muscularity and body fat dissatisfaction indirectly through internalization of the mesomorphic ideal, [negative links] to body appreciation directly and indirectly through body monitoring, [positive links] to negative affect indirectly through romantic attachment anxiety and avoidance, and [negative links] to positive affect indirectly through relationship attachment anxiety and avoidance.”

Related: Porn Is Inspiring Teen Girls To Undergo This Invasive And Painful Cosmetic Surgery

Translation? Consuming porn can make you suffer from self-esteem issues, check your body to see if you’re measuring up, and avoid romantic encounters because of anxiety. Sound anything like what we saw as behaviors of those with penile BDD?

So how is porn able to convince guys they aren’t “big” enough?

Here’s what Urologist Aaron Spitz told the HuffPost:

“A huge problem with pornography is that, although most guys intuitively know it’s not ‘real,’ few men have any other frame of reference to compare themselves to… Unless a straight guy happens to be a urologist like me, he really has a very limited understanding of the pageantry of the penis in all its various shapes and sizes.”

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Porn is a lie, not an education

The bottom line is that porn sells an unrealistic picture of what sex is and looks like, and guys often don’t have any other frame of reference. This extends to the performers’ bodies as well. One male performer even said, “In porn, even I could potentially feel inadequate. I’m not sure how the general public feels about themselves if they only see very [well-endowed] guys, but I hope they, too, remember that porn is simply a fantasy.”

RelatedTrue Story: My Struggle With Porn Taught Me To Hate My Body

It’s not the first time, or the last, we’ll hear from porn trying to sell something that’s not real: bodies, sex, love. And we know that it doesn’t just affect consumers, men and women, on one side of the screen, but on both.

Consuming these false images of fantasy has the power to transform consumers’ realities. Body image and self-esteem issues, relationship avoidance and anxiety, and the list goes on. Porn is harmful to the brain, heart, and society—so is watching truly worth it?

Citations

[1] Stephens-Davidowitz, S. (2017). Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are (First). New York: HarperCollins.
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid

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