Up Front by Emma Hart


Oh, Cock!

Here's a question: when was the last time you heard someone say something nice about penises? I mean actual genitalia; this isn't some coded reference to Paul Henry*.

Penises get really bad press. I can only imagine what it's like to be on the receiving end, because no woman is ever asked to be alienated from a part of her body to that extent. It won't do what it's told: it goes from betraying you by getting up when you don't want it to, to betraying you by not getting up when you do want it to, with a small golden age in between.

Penises are often talked about as being capable of independent thought, and acting as a sort of auxiliary control for the male body. Melissa Theuriau appears on the telly and suddenly it's all ditching the saucer section and flying from the nether regions down in engineering.

In combination, it's kind of like the penis is some kind of alien parasite, only attached to its bearer through an admittedly rather lovely symbiosis. It gains nutrition and transport in return for giving pleasure and occasionally making its host behave like, well, a cock. And that's another thing: all the colloquial words for it are insults.

On top of that, it's silly-looking. And ugly. And too small, if your junk mail filter is anything to go by. It's such a powerful symbol of sexist oppression and dominance that so is anything it lends its shape to: missiles, spears, the CN tower. It's completely stupid and utterly terrifying.

It doesn't seem fair, having quite aggressively reclaimed female sexuality for women, that we don't make something of the same effort for men. Where, after all, is the warm-hearted generous celebration of straight male sexuality? When was the last time you saw a man having fun having sex? (Um. I mean in sexualised media, not in real life. Funny how I can pose one of those questions in a quite detached analytical mood, and the other makes me blush and giggle.)

For me, this all started with a serendipitous visit to this site. (Please note: in no way is Naked Men Happy Women a site that is Safe For Work. There are cocks. In a good way.) And it was only when I read this that I realised how very seldom you hear anything like it: a positive view of the penis:

Women have a strong tactile sense. Soft materials make them feel all warm and cuddly. The skin of the penis feels soft like silk. This makes it a very desirable object for the female touch.

Women love to cuddle. The more, the better. It is something they have in commen(sic) with the penis.

The penis is not ashamed to show his lady friend he is happy to see her. He also pokes her, lets her know he is there for her. Women do appreciate these gestures.

One way to a woman's heart, is to give her presents. The penis is a giver by nature.

So let's settle a few things. Your penis does not look stupid. Consider it next to any other body part viewed in isolation: the knee, for instance, or the elbow. The ear. A cock looks nothing like as stupid as an ear. It's just that we're not conditioned to be ashamed of our ears. There's nothing inherently ridiculous about the shape of a penis: it's a column-shape. It's practically designed to be caressed. It might bounce about if unrestrained when you walk, but so do breasts, and nobody thinks breasts look stupid. Nobody.

Penises have also, I believe, been the inspiration behind some of our most useful inventions. Tent poles. The catapult. You can't tell me whoever invented the catapult hadn't played with a few erect penises. (Penises can also play Helicopter, but I'm assured that's coincidental not relational. I'm also told I shouldn't mention that because it's embarrassing.)

Your penis is also not the wrong size. It is, exactly and precisely, the size of your penis. I can understand the neurosis: after all, I can just look around on the street and compare my breasts with other women's. You're not allowed to look at other penises. Insecurity flourishes in the dark. However. I have never in my life had a conversation with a female friend in which we compared the sizes of various men's genitalia. You guys care way more than we do. When we were competitively objectifying Richard Kahui and John Barrowman, not once did their cocks even come up in conversation. So to speak.

And no, a penis is not necessary for sexual pleasure. Chocolate is not necessary to my diet. That doesn't mean it isn't fucking awesome.

Female bodies are gorgeous. Male bodies are also gorgeous. Just speaking for myself, one of the things I want

for and in men is for them to be comfortable with their own bodies, with their own desires. Own them. It's dead sexy. The next time you see your penis, try thinking of it as a cuddly natural giver. Nothing at all like Paul Henry.

*I wrote that sentence, and the beginning of this column, two weeks ago. Events have rather, etc.

Emma Hart is the author of the book 'Not Safe For Work'.

(Click here to find out more)

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