I’ve always been really glad I don’t have a penis.

Women may have the monopoly on suffering under the crushing weight of unrealistic body standards, but I have to admit, I’m sympathetic to the plight of the penis-haver.

Like many women, I have been obsessed since childhood with toning, shaving, bleaching, dying, starving, and kegeling various parts of my body in a compulsive attempt to will them into society’s good graces. I can only imagine what I would put a penis through if I had one to feel inadequate about.

There’s just so much that can be “wrong” with a penis, and the societal import of having a “good” one is incredibly high. Add to that the fact that even in the age of plastic surgery, supplements, and miracle drugs, there remains little to no reliable, effective method of enhancing or otherwise altering the penis to suit society’s demands, and having a dick has got to be a nightmare for anyone without bulletproof self-esteem.


Size Matters

I should clarify that I’m talking about the physical penis-having itself. The corresponding social advantages that often accompany being born with a dangling appendage between your legs? Different story altogether.

That said, just because most penis-bearers are born into a patriarchal hellscape of their own making doesn’t mean they can’t also be victims of its unrealistic standards. Are we still living in the remains of a society long dominated by phallic imagery and its corresponding symbolic power structures? Yes, definitely. Do these power structures put people who are born with penises under immense pressure to live up physically to a societal ideal of a body part over which they have little to no control? I think so. With great power comes great insecurity. (Unless, of course, you happen to be a certain very stable genius.)

Blame porn, blame the media, blame rap music, what have you. Either way, society has spoken, and when it comes to dicks, the unanimous ruling is clear: the bigger the better. Big dicks are almost universally lauded in the media, while small ones are fodder for cheap jokes in just about every sitcom ever made. Simply from growing up against the background of Seinfeld reruns, I knew that I was supposed to want to have sex with a big penis long before I had ever even seen one in person.

The Cut and the Uncut

Of course, society’s demands of male genitalia don’t stop at size. One of the most dominant and problematic Western standards dictates that the only good dick is a circumcised dick.

Circumcision may be on its way to becoming a less dominant norm, with modern mothers increasingly choosing to forego the cut. In the meantime, however, uncircumcised penises—and the individuals they are attached to—remain easy targets for body-shaming in mainstream media. Once circumcision—or lack thereof—comes into play, all the size rules go out the window. You could be toting girth to rival a soda can, but if it’s wrapped in an extra layer of skin, it’s fair game for public ridicule.

The 2016 ensemble comedy “Bad Moms” features a much-publicized scene in which Mila Kunis’s newly-single character anxiously asks what she should do if she encounters an uncircumcised man, to which Kristin Bell’s character responds, “Run out of the room screaming. It’s like finding a gun in the street. Just scream and get out of there.”

Dick jokes are all in good fun, right? After all, it’s just comedy. But imagine if, instead of three women swapping dick jokes while primping in a bathroom, this scene took place among three men in a locker room discussing the horrors of “pepperoni nips” or uneven labia. When women’s bodies are made into objects of ridicule, it’s just cause for much needed feminist backlash. Yet when the tables are turned, an ignorant joke about uncut dicks is prime material for a movie trailer.

This rhetoric is nothing new in movies and television. In Season 7 of Shameless, Carl gets circumcised after his girlfriend refuses to perform oral sex otherwise. Way back in 1999, a Season 2 episode of Sex and the City features a distraught Charlotte comparing a man’s uncut penis to “a Shar-Pei.” As the body-positive movement continues to fight back against negative jokes and commentary about women’s bodies in the media, why is male genitalia still fair game for body-shaming in the name of a punchline?

Land of the Free, Home of the Circumcised

What this problematic excuse for comedy also overlooks is the fact that circumcision is a Western tradition almost unheard of in many other parts of the world. In fact, with America the sole country in which circumcision is still the norm, this controversial custom is not only predominantly Western but predominantly American.

In the age of an America increasingly marred by racism, xenophobia, and tense global relations, disparaging attitudes toward uncircumcised penises are more than just a sexist reverse double standard. Given the historical and cultural origins of circumcision, the privileging of cut dicks is yet another example of society’s destructive allegiance to Western beauty standards.

Whether or not a man is circumcised at birth is a matter he has literally no say in. The state of a dude’s foreskin is almost always determined by historical, cultural, and parental forces beyond his control long before he even reaches the verbal stage. And, yes, while an adult man can pull a Carl and choose to get circumcised later in life, there’s no reason anyone should feel subjected to societal pressures that demand they do so.

The bottom line here is simple. If groundbreaking, feminist-driven movements promoting body and sex-positivity are finally shutting down negative commentary about women’s bodies, then the same mentality needs to be extended to male bodies as well. The male body should not be treated as an object ripe for ridicule or disparagement any more than the female body. And while women’s bodies have long been subjected to harmful ideas, criticism, comedic gags, and even legislation at the hands of a sexist society, we all know two wrongs don’t make a right. Body positivity is about accepting and honoring all bodies, whether male or female-identified or identifying, thin or curvy, cut or uncut.

At the end of the day, skin is skin. Don’t be a dick about it.