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Battle of the Bulge: Why Internet Porn Gives Men Penis Angst

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For generations, perhaps centuries, women have had to endure the taunts of men - and sometimes other women - with respect to the size of their breasts, buttocks and dress sizes. It’s always been assumed that the ‘fairer sex’ is the more insecure gender but online pornography is changing all that. Suddenly men - who are more likely than women to watch internet porn - are realising that there is a whole world of online Lotharios with penises far larger than their own. It doesn’t matter that many women tell the average-sized man not to fret; he believes what his eyes tell him, which is that his penis simply doesn’t measure up. So how exactly is internet porn changing the way men view themselves?

Statistics on how many porn sites are on the internet are notoriously unreliable, and range from 4% to 37%. In fact, even reports stating the number of people viewing porn at any one time are likely to be only an educated guess. Nonetheless, it’s surely no exaggeration to say that porn is widely available and frequently viewed by a substantial number of (primarily male) internet users. And, as with many other things on the internet, virtual reality is unlikely to accurately reflect reality. Tell that to the growing number of men who think that the far larger-than-average penises they see on porn sites are the norm.

From an early age, boys learn that ‘bigger is better’ - most schoolboys believe their dad has a bigger car or house than their friends’ dads, and they’re not afraid to boast about it, either. It’s no wonder that the obsession with size soon blossoms into something much more personal; by the time they’re in their late teens, and sometimes earlier, young men become curious about just how much they’re ‘packing’ compared to their peers. They surreptitiously compare themselves to their friends in the locker room, or take a sneak peek at the guy in the urinal next to them. It doesn’t take long for the vast majority of men to realise their penis size is completely average - maybe an inch smaller or larger than the statistical average, but otherwise safely within the realm of normality.

But there is one important caveat to this ‘look and compare’ strategy; the size of a flaccid penis (statistically said to average between three and five inches) can vary greatly from the size of an erect one (said to average between five and seven inches). This discrepancy means that a flaccid penis is a poor indicator for its erect size - smaller flaccid penises grow much more than larger ones, meaning that there is ultimately less difference in size between erect penises than there is between flaccid ones. Consequently when a man sees his friend’s penis in the shower or urinal, he’s seeing it in its un-aroused state, and so has no idea how large (or not) that penis is when erect.

The ‘look and compare’ strategy is useless as an indicator of just how large a man’s erect penis is. But, thanks to the rapid advent of online porn, men no longer have to resort to peeking furtively at their peers in the showers or toilets. Instead, all they need to do is visit one of countless explicit porn sites and check out the competition at leisure. What they see - indeed, what many millions have already seen - will leave them feeling more than a little short-changed. It must occur to most men that the Lotharios who expose their anatomy to worldwide scrutiny are exceptionally well-endowed; some suggest that the penises featured in online porn are in the very top tier of the size range - probably between seven and eight inches erect - but because there is no proof for this, and because camera angles can make something big seem titanic, many men who have viewed online porn may come to believe that every guy he walks past on the street has far larger genitalia than his own.

The bad news for Mr Average is that the ‘problem’ is unlikely to be resolved soon, if ever. As porn sites add hundreds of pages to their archives each year, bigger will just keep on being better. Larger penises will become increasingly ‘normal’ - at least to the men and women who view porn regularly - and men who feel intimidated by the size of those in porn videos will get no respite from the visual onslaught. Ironically, men are particularly cruel to other men with respect to penis size whereas women - the real object of heterosexual male desire - tend to be more forgiving of an average-sized penis, and don’t place too much importance on size when choosing a mate.

This attitude on the part of women is borne out by an internet survey that indicated 85% of women were ‘very satisfied’ with their partners’ size while only 55% of men were happy with their own size. In addition, countless surveys point to a woman’s preference for penis width over length - a thicker appendage is likely to create more friction near the clitoral area, which is pleasurable for many women.

Perhaps the real issue isn’t so much penis anxiety as the deterioration of male self-esteem in an era when women in the developed world are more financially and sexually empowered than ever before. It doesn’t help that billboards feature male role models such as English soccer star David Beckham in his bulging briefs - until fairly recently such erotic exposure was limited to nubile young female models.

Men who find themselves intimidated by the fact that big seems to be the new normal should take comfort from the fact that large penises seen in internet porn, on billboards and in glossy magazines, are as rare as they have ever been. Size, it seems, is a far bigger issue in a man’s mind than it is in his briefs.

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