Tag Archives: penises

Manhood? Or Penis-hood?


Debbie and Laurie say:

Photographer Laura Dodsworth has completed a major project on penises (following a project she did on breasts). She calls the project, and accompanying book, Manhood: The Bare Reality, saying “One word for penis is manhood, so it seemed a perfect starting point to talk about being a man.”

Dodsworth did some admirable things for this project: she went looking for a wide variety of models, including trans men, men with micropenises, disabled men, and at least one strap-on. If you want to learn about the variety of penises, this is great. The Guardian article linked here includes interviews with several of the models, and the book probably has interviews with all of them.

This is a project we want to like. Familiar Men taught us both a lot about men and their penises, and the subject is under-explored, especially visually. But Dodsworth made two choices which deeply undercut the value of her work:


First, she chose headless, and surprisingly bodiless, photography. Because all the men are standing in the same position, the same distance from the camera, with their hands in the same positions, the message is that the penis is the only differentiation, and thus the penis is the man. Anything else that might be of interest about each man is invisible, and thus unimportant. (Her breasts project is done in exactly the same format, equivalently making the breasts the only interesting thing about each woman.) In the same vein, she chose to make all the men nameless: not only no full names, but no first names, no initials, no handles, no aliases. Just their age, and the picture of their penis. Dodsworth succeeds in dehumanizing her models, reducing them to a single view; the interviews dispel this a little, but not enough.

Part of Dodsworth’s narrative about both of these projects is how brave these people were to have un-airbrushed pictures of their sexual organs shown in public. It’s always brave to tell your story; nonetheless, when we read these stories and the only visual context we are given is a picture of the penis that goes with the story, we lose track of the full humanity of the person behind the interview.


Familiar Men exemplifies photographs of men of a wide variety of ages, ethnicities and body types, showing their entire body and face to the world. In Laurie’s photography and our joint work, the penis is not the man. Where Dodsworth anonymizes, we strive to personalize.

Thanks to Lisa Hirsch for the pointer!

Dickanatomy, Dickonomics, and Dickfuturology

Debbie says:

Even when I’m screening for good Body Impolitic fodder, I rarely find three great links on any one topic … and when I do, it’s not usually male sexual organs.


First, Diane Kelly at Throb reports on a genuinely new anatomical discovery.

… no one knew much about how the lymphatic vessels were arranged underneath the skin, which limited treatments for swelling and increased the risk of complications during surgery.

So in a wince-inducing imaging experiment, Yan Liu and his colleagues at the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China built a map of the penile lymphatic system using MRI images captured from volunteers who agreed to have a medical contrast agent injected under their foreskins.

The results, published in the Anatomical Record this week, show that lymphatic vessels in the glans and foreskin form a network across the upper surface of the penis before merging to form larger vessels that send fluid into lymph nodes embedded in the groin. The network isn’t connected to the erectile tissues in the center of the penis, suggesting that those tissues have their own independent set of lymphatic vessels.

Then, Alana Massey at Medium has some scorching things to say about “dickonomics” on dating sites (especially Tinder), and how women who have sex with men can think about choosing among possible partners.

Dick is abundant and low value. I had gotten my new motto amidst the worst break-up of my life. Shaken to my core by the degrading insults my ex had hurled at me but also mourning the permanent departure of some poetically good dick, I was spending a day mindlessly refreshing Twitter and reading up on how to spot sociopaths. I came across two tweets from Madeleine Holden, a lawyer and writer who regularly entertains the Twitter masses with her unapologetic analyses of toxic masculinity and her praise of amazing female-identified people:

1 G-bMq6iDoaXX7W2xdh61AwFor all its faults, I still find Tinder delightful. I’m now 29, and I set my upper age limit to a reasonable 37, my lower age limit to a rather scandalous 23. No one can address me without my consent, which I can withdraw with an unceremonious “Unmatch” at any time. … But I’ve found enough value on Tinder to keep going, swiping and unmatching bad profiles out of my life at the first sign of unreasonable expectations. Their corner of Tinder is a dark place, dense with hapless souls who didn’t realize that the centuries-long period of dick overvaluation is over.


Finally, George Dvorsky at io9 has entirely too much fun imagining “the penis of the future,” which is, among other things,

  • disease resistant (“a high-tech penis could be implanted with bio-sensors that detect specific foreign pathogens, alerting the rest of the body to their presence,”),
  • shape-shifting (“Ideally, men should be able to change the smoothness of their penis, or its surface structure. Penis 2.0 should be like an on-demand French tickler, with modifiable ridges, grooves, and bumps to enhance the sexual pleasure of the receiver.”) and
  • internet ready (“Once your dick is online you’ll be able to participate in virtual sex. … With the enhanced, Internet-ready penis, no external devices will be required. You could also use your bluetooth-enabled penis to track and transmit biometric data and other statistics to an online app. … Oh, and a connection to the Internet will also allow you to update any software that’s resident in your upgraded penis.)

You’ve heard of the “internet of things”; this is the “internet of schlongs.”  Read the whole thing, some of which is serious and all of which is entertaining.

Thanks to hitchhiker for the dickonomics link.