Saturday, April 24, 2010
Controversial Australian radio personality Kyle Sandilands has roused a new round of media attention after making a lewd comment regarding Tiger Woods' genitals. While interviewing three of the golfer’s mistresses yesterday, Sandilands steered the conversation to the size of Wood’s penis, asking one of the women whether she’d been surprised at the apparently overly equipped god of golf.
"(Did you say) 'Man, you're half Asian, half black, obviously the half black is what's going on downstairs?''' Sandilands asked.
The comment provoked harsh criticism from anti-discrimination and ethnic rights groups, condemning it as a clear case of racial stereotyping.
There is little doubt that the adequacy of one’s asset has remained a sensitive topic for men over recent decades. The rising prominence of pornography constantly depicts men who appear to rest easily on the brink of mythology, forcing mere mortals to the primitive compulsion of measuring and comparing to the point of obsession. Psychologists and men’s magazines refer to the phenomenon as a crisis in male body image, and seem to be making endless attempts to curb these insecurities with an array of wobbly statistics assuring men that size means very little to women. I am not going to delve into a sympathetic sermon on what women are willing to renounce for true love; you can find thousands of internet articles and websites dedicated to the very cause of restoring the delicate egos of humbled men. Rather, what I found interesting was the changing perceptions of size over the centuries.
Paintings and statues of the great men of ancient Greece depict their sacred heroes in, apparently, not all of their supposed glory. In a society where both male beauty and nudity were openly celebrated, the image of a large penis was considered grotesque, comic and tastelessly primitive, commonly portrayed on the likes of satyrs, ugly old men and barbarians. The ideal penis, at least among aristocracy and highbrow society, was small, thin, and covered with a long, tapered foreskin. Small genitalia also extended beyond aesthetic preferences; the unaroused penis was seen as a symbol of discipline and stoicism, both admirable virtues of ancient Greek culture.
The Greek ideals however, not only conflict with the cultural values of today, but also the evolutionary theories as to why society places so much importance on the larger penis. Scientists explain that in nature, the main priority of any mammal is to survive and to procreate. In the process of selecting a male for procreation, the female mammal will look for a male with strength and ability to win over competition, as well as an adequate penis size, recognising that a larger penis can penetrate deeper into the vagina to increase the likelihood of pregnancy. Darwinian reasoning always seems to provide sufficient answers for everything.
The fact that Sandilands’ comments provoked such a fierce backlash demonstrates just how much human beings have invested their self-worth into physical endowments. Labelling a group of people as having small penises appears to now classify as racial discrimination, albeit any accuracies that these claims may contain. In Australia’s multicultural society, where racial slurs and stereotyping are commonly regarded as good-natured Australian humour, one can mock the slanted eyes of the Orients or the harsh accents of the Arabs with little consequence. Taking a jab below the belt, however, is apparently where we draw the line.