The Racist Origins of Penis-Size Stereotypes
For as far back as he can remember, Craig has wanted a big penis.
He still remembers the first time he tried to measure the length of his penis in the sixth grade.
"I had a flawed system," Craig, now a 30-something writer based in Austin, Texas, admitted of his research methodology. "But it's not like you can take a ruler into the bathroom every day."
His flawed system was this: Before going into the bathroom, he used a ruler to estimate the total length of his finger, noting where the 1-inch mark would be. Having mentally divided his finger into inch-long sections, Craig then used that finger to measure the number of inches of his penis and track its growth over the years.
"Another problem with that system was that I also wasn't taking into account how much my fingers grow," he added.
Craig couldn't explain why he was so anxious to know his penis size.
"All I knew was having a small penis was bad," he said.
Global penis-size obsession
Craig wasn't alone in his penis-size anxiety. British tabloid articles have made outlandish claims regarding penis-size averages and are based on equally dubious research.
"Size DOES matter! Study into sexual pleasure reveals that an extra inch can make all the difference," declared one particularly freezy-advertisement-packed post. "Forget big feet! Men with large NOSES tend to have bigger penises, study reveals," cried another.
Memorably, in 2015, tabloids honed in on an infographic published on a click-bait website called Mandatory. Like many a member-size infographics before and after, the infographic claimed to illustrate the penis sizes of men from different countries.
According to the infographic, the average global penis is 5.5 inches. Of the 80 countries surveyed, the country with the longest ones was the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the average penis is 7.1 inches. North Korea had the smallest average: 3.8 inches. The United States, in case you were wondering, fell in the middle-ish, with an average of 5.1 inches.
One glaring problem with this penis-size country-by-country map? It pulls heavily from a now-defunct site that provided notoriously unreliable self-reported length measurements, which studies confirm tend to be overestimated.
The inherent racism behind international penis research
But there is an even bigger problem with attempts to rank international penis sizes. Much of the research in this field pulls from pseudoscience from so-called scholars of race realism. Race realism is the belief there are innate biological differences between population groups in personality, intelligence and social behavior, which account for disparities in social and economic outcomes.
Leading this racial penis-size research was J. Philippe Rushton, a race scientist who proposed that there exists an inverse relationship between race and penis size. According to Rushton's 1985 Differential K Theory, penis size and brain size are inversely related. The theory proposes that Black men evolved to have the largest penises and the smallest brains, while Asian men have the smallest penises and the largest brains. Conveniently for Rushton, a white man, Caucasians evolved with the perfect balance: sufficiently sized brains for cultural achievements combined with reasonably sized penises for penis-related tasks.
In response to criticisms of his racist ideas, Rushton retorted that scientific theories should be evaluated on evidence, not by political correctness. But it's in the data where his views fall flat. In an attempt to make claims about genital-size disparities among different ethnicities, Rushton cited some sketchy sources, such as a book of anthro-pornographic legends by an anonymous 19th-century French surgeon and self-reported research on incarcerated males.
As questionable as Rushton's work may be, it's been built on and added to over the years. A 2012 study by Richard Lynn, a researcher from the United Kingdom, tried to validate Rushton's theory that there are predictable differences in penis length between different ethnic groups. Like Rushton, Lynn relied on questionable sources—namely, self-reported data from another now-defunct world penis-size website and a book, "Is Size Important?" by the late self-declared race realist Donald Templer, known for his association with the white nationalist group American Renaissance.
The impact of penis-size stereotypes
Lack of reliable data and nonracist research aside, stereotypes regarding the penis sizes of different races have had an impact.
Craig, as a tallish white man, knows he got off easy.
"White guys are average," he said when pressed to name a stereotype about Caucasian penis sizes. "Not noteworthy. Unremarkable."
On the other hand, Mike, an Asian American whose parents are from China and South Korea, said stereotypes about Asians and small penises haven't done him any favors.
"[They] affected my perception of my overall value on the dating market," he said. "If a person believes that stereotype, then in a blind choice, they wouldn't choose me as a partner. So in terms of that, it was an obstacle to overcome.
"And what is the tool for overcoming that?" he mused. "Showing someone a research study? [In a nerdy voice] 'Actually, on average, if you look at per capita, this is the case, and let me pull up this MIT study that I have bookmarked.'"
He laughed, saying, "If you weren't going to get laid before, that speech definitely is not going to get you laid now."
'And what is the tool for overcoming that? Showing someone a research study?'
What about Black men, who would ostensibly benefit from penis-size myths? According to Sydney Adeniyi, a Nigerian-American comedian, being the target of massive-member stereotypes isn't all sunshine and porn-star-style sex.
To illustrate how stereotypes have affected him, Adeniyi relayed multiple stories where drunk audience members—including a police officer in Chicago—approached him and demanded to see his "big black dick."
"There was this cop—this is a real story!—and she was at my comedy show," he said. "She was like, 'I know it's big. Let me see!'
"I didn't want to let her see," he continued. "So to get out of it, I said, 'Well, you got to show me your boobs if you want to see my dick.'"
Without missing a beat, the cop flashed her boobs.
"And I was like, 'Aw, damn it!' I should have asked her for something harder to show," he reflected. "I should have been like, 'Let me see your heart!'"
He allowed that there are perks if you're into scoring: "If you wanted to take advantage of the stereotypes, you'd be able to be a little more promiscuous."
But in the end, Adeniyi said being objectified as a person with a big penis feels icky.
"It makes me feel weird when women are all, 'That big black dick,' and I'm like, 'Aw, but I'm funny, too! Respect me for making you laugh!'"
Adeniyi said, "At the end of the day, people do like to feel human—even men."