Is Saying a Guy Has a Small Penis ‘Body Shaming?’

There’s no good response to a public callout re: how much heat you’re packing.

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Post-breakup trash-talking has only one motive, but can take many forms: There’s the artful sick burn, such as when actress Elisabeth Moss, remarking on her short-lived marriage to Fred Armisen, said that “the greatest impersonation he does is that of a normal person.” Then there’s the dirty sucker punch, such as when Instagram model Alexis Ren recently took to Twitter to tell her over 600,000 followers that her ex-boyfriend, Instagram model Jay Alvarrez, has a small penis. Yikes.

The tweet, since deleted but screen-captured here, is as low as a blow can go. Stating publicly — to the tune of over 50,000 likes pre-deletion — that the man you once loved never packed the heat is napalm, to be sure, but it’s a brilliant guerrilla tactical maneuver, too, because it shames its recipient while simultaneously alerting all other women that your ex is bad in bed.

Vicious. Like calling any woman fat or ugly (or both!), the little-penis snipe is the numero uno dude burn because its precise coordinates hit a man directly where we measure his potency: his penis. It is the verbal equivalent of a kick in the balls, because it avers the man is not just less of a man, but a bad lover. And little penises, much like Trump’s tiny hands, are so fun to make fun of it’s practically a sport.

What possibly could Alvarrez say to such an accusation? His first tactic was to deny the problem. He tweeted, “I got 99 Problems & this ain’t one babi,” using the hashtag #bethebiggerperson, and included a short video that pans down to show Alvarrez’s erection in white boxer briefs.

While arguably the video is proof he may very well have a pretty average, kinda-curved-in-not-necessarily-great-directions penis, the video’s strange angle and the dark fabric coloring at the location of the erection didn’t seem to bolster Alvarrez’s case, and some followers called BS. “Did you just stick a cucumber down there?” reads the first reply to the tweet. “Definitely put a cucumber hahahaha whattafaker,” another remarks.

Next, Alvarrez took the discourse a little higher with a second tweet addressing in his small-penis case, playing out in the court of public opinion. “Body Shaming is never cool in any gender or situation.. Making someone feel bad about how they naturally are is only showing your weakness,” he wrote.

This is a much better tactic. Body shaming discussions have typically centered around addressing the way women are relentlessly mocked for a few extra pounds, stretch marks, or otherwise having a normal human body. But now men have begun to admit that they experience this animus as well. Taunts aimed at men for being too fat, too scrawny, too doughy, too nerdy, too bald — usually served up through advertising, action flicks or men’s magazines, explicit or otherwise — make them feel like crap, too.

Penis-size shaming is no different, and the fear of having a penis that’s not big enough is so pervasive that studies have found that even well-endowed men think they’re too small. It’s worth noting, though, that it’s feminist groups who’ve shouted the loudest for men and women to relax on the penis shaming. Writing at Everyday Feminism, Robin Tran notes that such jokes promote a toxic, extremely narrow standard for masculinity, not least of which because it defines that masculinity as existing only in relation to how sexually pleasing a man’s penis is to women.

Men can’t do much to control their penis size, but the implication that a big penis is the only way to please a woman contradicts what we know, which is that penis size is not a fair indicator of sexual performance, nor is it part of the “golden trio” required to help most women achieve orgasms.

That said, it’s unlikely anyone is going to give up on such easy, low-hanging fruit, and it’s probably better to say nothing at all — or go high. Whatever you do, don’t attempt Larry David’s strategy here. In Season 5 of Curb Your Enthusiasm, a woman tells Larry that her relationship with his friend Jeff ended abruptly once she discovered he had a small penis. He runs into her again and lets her know that he mentioned the small penis comment to Jeff, and it turns out, she was mistaken. “He said the problem didn’t lie with his small penis, but rather with your big vagina.”

You could, I suppose, simply admit you didn’t have a big penis.

But now you’ve admitted you don’t have a big penis — and hey, again, maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Penis size is relative. And this is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. Trying to prove you do, in fact, have a big penis is a dicey move, as Alvarrez’s tweet responses indicate. You’re protesting too much, and simultaneously validating the very idea that all penises should be big.

Perhaps it would be best if we as a society could move collectively toward no longer discussing these things, and just as women hope to some day stop being treated as if they’ve committed an egregious crime against humanity by simply having a normal body, men too will one day rejoice when the only person who ever needs to know about their penis size is them—and whoever they’re sticking it in.