Go Big or Go Home? What to Know About Small Penis Syndrome

Move over, Miss America. There's a new pageant in town—and this time, instead of celebrating hotness and sequins, it's all about showing off . . . really small dicks.

That's right: over the weekend, Brooklyn held its second annual Small Penises Pageant, featuring guys flaunting their less-than-robust goods. Our take? The body-positive event is damn sweet and even inspiring. After all,  big penises for men are akin to big boobs or skinniness for women: an ultimate physical ideal, designed to tap into insecurities and crush self-esteem. Pop-up ads peddle dick extensions to drive the ladies wild, "size queens" demand bigger or bust, and there's a general assumption—deep-seeded in our society—that manhood is wrapped up in width, length, girth and hardness.

It's no wonder many men suffer from penis anxiety, a condition scientists have linked loosely to eating disorders and body dysmorphia. Just how often do men fret about their male member? And what do women want really? The answers may surprise you.

What Men Want

The technical term for penis-size anxiety is "small penis syndrome" (SPS), and as with most forms of body dysmorphia, it often involves a disconnect between reality and perception. Most men who suffer from SPS don't actually have what scientists rather unfortunately call a "micropenis" (2.75 inches when fully extended). In one study, urologists found that while more than half of men would like a larger penis, 85 percent of women were satisfied with their husband's genitals.

Surprise, surprise: Many men who suffer from SPS also get it at a young age, when they first start sizing up their manhood against others—causing some doctors to dub the condition "locker room syndrome." In one study, 37 percent of SPS-inflicted respondents said their issues began in adolescence, after seeing erotic images for the first time.

Just as women resort to extreme measures—starvation, unhealthy dieting, throwing up, plastic surgery—to meet certain physical ideals, so too do men go to great lengths to get the elusive "perfect" penis. In India, wandering holy men attach weights to their dicks. Up until the 16th century, tribal men in Brazil would resort to an even more painful measure: provoking poisonous snakes to bite their nether region. Apparently, they believed the six months of pain that followed was totally worth it for a promised extension in size.

In present-day America, measures include enhancement pills and vacuum pumps, both of which doctors have deemed to be largely ineffective and even potentially damaging. Yet as long as men are taught that they can only be desirable with a larger dick, these magical cures will continue to sell.

What Women Want

Here's the real kicker about all this male anxiety: women don't give a damn about penis size . . . or at least not as much of a damn as might be expected.

One study found that while penis size does matter to ladies, it's only one factor among many that dictate attractiveness; features like broad shoulders and tallness also play a significant role. There's also a misconception that size is all about inches. But as one Psychology Today survey revealed, while men care more about penis length, women are actually more interested in width and girth.

Then there's the opposite problem to contend with: penises that are (yes) too big. One high-profile study revealed that women married to men with large members were more likely to cheat, because of how painful the sex was.

Bottom line? There is no one "perfect penis"—just as there is no one perfect boob size or body type for women. As ladies, we have a responsibility to treat this issue with care; I admit to laughing with girlfriends more than once over penis size, and in retrospect this just wasn't cool.

As the Small Penises Pageant proves, what matters most isn't what you've been given, but how you handle it. And in the end, there's nothing sexier than confidence—no pills or vacuum pumps needed.

Image: ThinkStock

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