This article originally appeared on VICE UKMy client's on his back, legs wide open, and I'm standing between them, looking disapprovingly at his cock."What a tiny cock," I say. "Don't you have a tiny, useless cock?""Yes, Mistress," he replies."Yes, what?" I ask."I have a tiny, useless cock," he whispers.I look down, and smile: he's hard. That's because he's into small penis humiliation, or SPH, meaning he gets turned on by the idea of his dick being small, useless—even unmanly.
SPH is a form of verbal humiliation and of sexual masochism, where a painful sensation or experience is eroticized. As a professional dominatrix, I understand that some of the most powerful kinks are in the mind, and that they're popular among kinksters: a 2002 Finnish study of people recruited from kinky sex clubs reported 70 percent of them engaged in verbal humiliation.For some cisgender men, who make up the majority of my clients, humiliation that undermines their sense of masculinity or subverts the social expectations imposed by manhood can be particularly potent and erotic. But in the wake of the recent news, where statues portraying a naked Donald Trump with a minuscule dick and no testicles appeared in cities across the US, I've been thinking about where our obsession with small penis humiliation comes from.
Take P, who lives with his dominant wife and young family in the UK. "I love when my Mistress mocks my cock," he tells me. "It turns the traditional roles entirely on their heads, and I like the idea that I do not 'measure up', cannot satisfy her needs, and am worthless to her sexually," he says.For P, part of the thrill is being feminized; his wife orders him to wear ladies' panties every day. A few key, humiliating words send him deep into his fetish: "She compares my cock to an engorged clit, calls it worthless, a waste of skin, a dinky dick," all while giving him a handjob, he says.
B, a middle-aged professional in the northeast US, sometimes goes for weeks locked in a chastity cage—a metal device that encloses the penis and testicles, allowing you to pee and but stopping you from getting erections. His wife, S, enjoys sex with other men. She also holds the key to B's chastity cage, and mocks his penis while it's locked up. "Being denied access to my wife's pussy is incredibly hot," B says. "We'll get into a tease-y conversation about how I'm just not allowed to fuck her hot, wet pussy, and the tininess of my locked up, non-functional dicklet is a big part of it."Liam Wignall, a PhD student who studies male kink communities, has found that kink interests are subjective. "When you speak to kink practitioners," he says, "most are unable to discuss where they feel their kink desires came from. [They] are mostly personal and innate desires which do not have simple, clear causes. Moreover, when individuals try to relate their kinks/fetishes to particular events in their lives, they often give the event more power and meaning then it may originally have had."For B, submitting to a dominant, humiliating woman feels empowering: "I think I like SPH because it goes back to my anxiety around sex and attractiveness—feeling unappealing, loserish. By transforming that anxiety from something passive into something active, it gets eroticized. Anxiety gets transformed into eros."
In my own kink practice, the issue of "why" rarely comes up: I'm here to realize fantasies in a controlled and safe manner. Humiliation can be powerful, but dangerous; one word might increase someone's excitement, while another might cause stinging hurt or real psychological damage. Before I'll mock someone's penis—or engage in any other sort of psychological play—the client and I have a calm chat about which words, fantasies, and ideas work best, and which to stay away from. I check in regularly during the session to make sure that my devastating tirade of abuse is still sexy and welcome.Even though I'm the person dishing out the degradation, it still gives me pause when I'm calling a client a tiny-dicked sissy, or calling a penis a clit as an insult. Domme Danielle, a sex worker who practices SPH with clients, agrees: "I find it disgusting that in order to humiliate the genitalia of a man, it is often very effective to label it as the genitalia of a woman. The message that this sends is is that we don't value women or the genitalia of women in our society as much as we do the genitalia of men," she says.But there's a side to this work that doesn't quite sit right with me. In playing the dominant woman, I might mock a man's penis to help him get off, but we live in a society where a rigid model of strength, toughness, and virility feels like the only socially condoned expression of masculinity. Non-consensual pressure for men to have a big penis appears everywhere.People all over the worldwide shared a big laugh over a sculpted tiny dick, but attacking Trump for his imagined body—instead of his policies—hurts trans people, intersex people, and anyone trying to get by in a society with such rigid expectations of gender roles. "I believe that the statues marginalize many. The presence or absence of body parts and the size of those parts has nothing to do with masculinity," says Don Altemus, a trans man who is also XXY intersex.Kelly Tonks, an advocate with Trans Media Watch, agrees. "The statues reinforce the sense that it's acceptable to shame others because of their body, in the same way that society feels it's OK to judge breast size, weight, perceived beauty, height," she says. "More sinister is the root of this emasculation and the suggestion that power and male virility are linked. The more penis you have, the more power you have." I'm just not sure that's the way things ought to be.Follow Margaret on Twitter