How Dick Size Matters to Men's Health

Penis size impacts men’s self-esteem, health choices, and more.

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Jun 28 2018, 5:50pm

Photo via Pexels. 

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

Dick size—it’s a topic every man thinks about.

Am I big enough? Am I small? What is big enough? Is it what I see in porn? OH GOD, IS THAT WHAT NORMAL SIZE IS?!?!

Big dicks, while they never left, have once again entered our collected psyche with the recent introduction of the term “big dick energy.” Now, as many have pointed out, people don’t necessarily need to possess a massive hog—or even a hog at all—in order to wield this mighty energy, but you would have to be a moron to not see the connection. It’s right there in the name, “BIG DICK” energy.

Is there a connection to the swagger one walks around with and the size of their love rocket? It sure seems like there is and one academic is trying to see if that assumption is true. Dr. Alicia Walker of Missouri State University launched a study earlier in the month and it will see her look at thousands of pictures of dicks and interview hundreds more in an attempt to see if there is a correlation between confidence and dick size.

VICE contacted Dr. Walker to talk about her research and ask what she’s learned studying dick sizes.

VICE: So, what exactly is the study?
Walker: This study is trying to look at the relationship—if there is one—between penis size and self-esteem, willingness to engage in relationships, condom usage, and perception of sexual competency. Basically, it’s trying to look at it and how this impacts how men navigate their lives.

What are you hoping to accomplish with the research?
Hopefully, it will start a conversation, or a discourse around this. There are a lot of men out there suffering from body dysmorphic disorder. There are a lot of men who believe they are small or below average who aren’t. Then there are a lot of people who are below average and that impacts how they interact with the world.

For instance, I’ve talked to men who haven’t been to the doctor for a physical in over a decade because they don’t want to be naked in front of their doctor. I’ve talked to men who have never even approached anyone for a romantic relationship because they don’t believe anyone would be interested in them because of their size. I’ve talked to men who have attempted suicide because of their size.

This has very serious implications and I realize that everyone is all like "hahaha it’s so funny" but it’s really not, it’s actually really serious. It’s about how people see themselves and their bodies and how it impacts the choices that they make. It’s actually really important.

How does society see penis size?
We are size-obsessed, you know, we constantly make jokes about size. We have discussions and size-worship all over the place—porn, for example, it’s a big motif there. They’re all much larger than normal. Even this week there has been all this talk about big dick energy. That’s a trending hashtag right now that we’re having a conversation right now saying that men who have this are better and more confident. The point is we certainly have a social narrative that bigger is better and that if a man doesn’t measure up he’s less of a man.

Are you hoping to combat that narrative?
Yeah, I hope so…

What will actually take place during the study? What steps will you be going through?
There are two components of the study and people can participate in both of them or just one of them. There is an interview component and there aren’t any photographs that are a part of it. That’s just people talking with me about their experiences and how they feel and how they think their size has impacted how they see themselves and the kind of things they do or don’t do.

Then there is a survey that does ask for photos but for a very specific reason. The standard for any kind of penis measurement is what we call the bone-press method [“really jam it in there as far as you can”] so we have them all using that and it’s uniform. So people are asked to send in pictures showing the method and the measurement so we know it’s accurate. So once we verify that it is a correct method, we destroy the photos. The only people who can participate are men over the age of 22.

How is it going so far?
Gosh, we’ve had more than 2,000 looks at the study and I don’t know exactly how many completed the survey off the top of my head. I’ve completed thirty Interviews and I have a lineup for more folks.

Is it easier to get uh… bigger men to talk about their dick size?
It’s actually the opposite. It’s pretty funny; every man I’ve talked to they’ve all said the same thing you just said: "Oh, all you’re going to have is a big sample of guys who are larger than average." It’s not been the case—we’re actually low on people that are above average. We don’t have anywhere near as many of those participants as those who are average and below.

Are you starting to see any preliminary findings?
Preliminary findings are that this is an issue as I’ve talked about with doctors—relationships and suicide attempts. Some people say I don’t even try and get condoms because they’re not going to fit and I’m going to be too small etc. I’ve started to see some of those patterns. This all came from multiple people I’ve talked to and they’ve all been tied back by size. I’m starting to see an effect on that end. I sadly don’t have enough men above average to draw any conclusions from them.

What was the genesis of this project?
I’ve been thinking about this project for six years. The genesis of it was that a number of women I know, who don’t know each other, told me similar stories about their personal partner sample which were all well-endowed men. That got me a little curious, mainly being what are they vetting for that is leading to this. The only thing they really had in common is they looked for a partner who had a lot of self-esteem or confidence and that was the only trait they all were looking for.

What is it like looking at so many pictures of dicks? That’s definitely not part of a normal person's workday.
This is a regular day for me. I’m a sex researcher this is what I do.

Correction: A previous version of this story said that Dr. Walker worked with the University of Missouri when she actually works with Missouri State University.

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