Although I like a tiny wang, so I wasn’t the one complaining.
In undergrad, before I landed on graphic design, and before I moved to New York to for to go to school, I was an Art History major for almost two years. It was mostly because I found the subject interesting and wrote well enough to talk about paintings, movements, and sculptures at length in essays and papers with little difficulty. Not because I had a plan to do anything practical with a degree in art history.
But it was also because there are sooooo many penii in art! Like. It’s almost as if people just didn’t used to even wear clothes, ever! And, as Ellen Ordesson discusses on her very-worth-your-time blog, How to Talk About Art History, they do tend to be tiny penises at that.
A reader asks her: “Why do all old statues have such small penises?”
And Ms. Ordesson’s thoughtful reply is actually super-enlightening and well reasoned:
“There are two main reasons why ancient Greek statues have small penises:
Firstly, they’re flaccid. If you compare their size to most flaccid male penises, they are actually not significantly smaller than real-life penises tend to be.”
This is pretty true and people should probably admit that.
“Secondly, cultural values about male beauty were completely different back then. Today, big penises are seen as valuable and manly, but back then, most evidence points to the fact that small penises were considered better than big ones.”
This one actually shocked me. But she’s got the research to back it up:
“One of the reasons historians, such as Kenneth Dover in his landmark book Greek Homosexuality, have suggested that small penises were more culturally valued is that large penises were associated with very specific characteristics: foolishness, lust and ugliness.”
She also provides some great visual examples, but I’ll encourage you to head over to HTTAAH to see them for yourself. It’s probably unsurprising that Priapus came into the discussion at this point, although it’s not in the positive light that I might have expected. It turns out that his permaboner was actually a curse placed upon Priapus by Hera, before his ultimate death at the hands of the other gods. You learn something new every day.
“Classical Greek sculpture has been hugely influential for all sculptural representations of the male body in European art, so it’s no wonder that small-penised statues have been the norm throughout most of Western art history. It also shows that our obsession with penis size has always been there, it’s just changed slightly.”
It’s easy to wonder if it’s for the better. I, for one, love small dicks. I don’t ever need more than exactly what fits in my mouth. It just seems greedy.