Dicking around

Notes on war clubs, meat poles, and male sexuality
By CAROLINE KNAPP  |  August 8, 2010


So what is it with men and their dicks? I really want to know.

The average man has at least 27 names for his dick: weenie, and wang, and tool, and member, and pecker, and war club, and muscle of love, and love gun, and meat pole, and (my personal favorite) one-eyed trouser snake. And on and on and on.

A man I know calls his, simply, "Persuasion." (Gag). Another calls it his "Résumé."

Why do men do this?

Men also have 47 ways to describe masturbation. Choking the chicken. Flogging the dolphin. Buffing the musket. Bopping the bishop. Slappin' it. Flappin' it. Wackin' it.

Women are so much more discreet about their reproductive anatomy. See? We call it "reproductive anatomy." We are so genteel in our descriptions we're almost prissy. Just listen to 15-year-old girls talk about menstruation.

"I have it," they whispered, looking alarmed as deer.

"Have what?"

"It. You know ... my friend."

Serious nod: "Oh. Your friend."

Men would not talk this way. Gloria Steinem once wrote a whole column about what would happen if men menstruated: they'd brag about it. They'd run up to each other in the school yard and say, "Hey, man, I am on the rag!" They'd boast about how many tampons they went through in the day.

But despite their apparent love affairs with their dicks, most men are surprisingly reticent about the subject.

"I am not going to talk to you about men and their dicks," says my friend, "Ernest" (let's not even pretend this is his real name). "I am not going to get into this. I refuse."

I pour him another glass of wine and wait for him to soften. I say, "A woman has a very hard time saying the word 'cunt.' To women, this sounds crass and grotesque. It makes them visibly uncomfortable. So why is it that men can use a phrase like 'one-eyed trouser snake' and think it's funny?"

"Because it is!"

Then he loosens up a little and segues into a somewhat familiar train of thought about how male genitals are external and female genitals internal and because of this difference, men have an easier time talking about things sexual in objective, external terms, whereas women are more prone to thinking about them as internal matters.

"Maybe," I say, "But I don't think it's all physiology and hormones."

"Well, if you had this thing hanging there between your legs," he says, "you'd probably have a different attitude about it, too." Then he starts free-associating about what it's like to be a 16-year-old boy sitting there in math class and getting a screaming erection for absolutely no apparent reason and having to stand up at the end of class and ... well, how it's just pretty hard to be a guy and not be wildly conscious of your sexuality at least 98 percent of the time.

I sit there listening and I notice the presence of an odd feeling. At first I feel defensive, like I want to say, 'Okay, I am sick of hearing about you boys and your hormones and how ridiculously horny you get just sitting there in math class.' But then the feeling evolves into something more like ... jealousy. No, not penis envy. I have never once in my life had the desire to have several inches of rather unremarkable-looking flesh determine my entire outlook on life and love. I mean something else.

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  Topics: Flashbacks , CULTURE, jealousy, gender,  More more >
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