“Power bottom 4 hung tops,” “Hung to the front of the line,” “Big cock+++.”
No matter where you are in the world, a quick glance at Grindr will reveal our community’s collective emphasis on the size of a man’s cock. In my own city of Toronto, people often ask me if I’m hung before even saying hello. Yes, I know Grindr is a hookup app, I’m just merely asserting that the size of a man’s cock is, for many, a determining factor when seeking a good dicking.
“My theory is that a large penis is being confused with strong masculinity, and that’s being confused with raw, erotic power,” Joe Kort, PhD, certified sex and relationship therapist, writes in his blog. “In other words, the bigger the penis, the better the man, the better the sex.”
But first: What actually constitutes a big dick?
The Journal of Sexual Medicine has verified the average penis measures at roughly 5.6 inches; technically, that means anything larger is considered “big.” While research tells us that “ideal” penis sizes are much larger, less than 3% of the world’s population measures over 8 inches.
But while a big dick may be praised and envied, the reality is it can often be a detriment, especially for gay men who engage in anal sex. Why? Big dicks can hurt.
“If a partner isn’t physically comfortable with a larger penis, it can feel like a deterrent as it causes physical pain,” sex and relationship therapist Janet Zinn explains to me in a phone interview. “That’s a hard place to be when you love or care about your partner, and entering him hurts him.”
James, 35, who measures 8 inches, tells me that his generous package sways most of his partners to bottom. As a versatile man, he rarely gets to experience the pleasures of bottoming because he’s often told the bigger guy tops.
Ethan, 26, who also measures 8 inches, often finds himself in the same position—literally. “Being someone who generally [identifies] as a bottom—though my profile says ‘vers bottom’—because I dabble—it has yielded some interesting responses,” he says. “People are either shocked that someone with a big dick is a bottom or they are determined to turn me into a full-on top, to which I tell them me topping has never not lead to a messy situation. Prepare all you want, but just imagine putting a Coke can in your ass and seeing what happens.”
A big dick can also be too intimidating. “I’ve definitely been turned down for sex or sex wasn’t possible,” Brad, 26, who measures 9.5 inches, says. “But most frequently, I would say the attention my dick gets over me as a person has been the biggest downside.” In college, Brad reluctantly garnered a reputation for his sizeable member; everyone assumed him to be a sexual deviant (most men I spoke with shared that they are often assumed promiscuous). In reality, he’d only had two sexual partners.
The reaction to bigger penises is often polarizing. “They will either take my dick and then ghost me, or absolutely worship it, which drives me more insane,” Brad continues. “When guys take it to the extreme–talking about my dick, looking at my dick, or making it their phone background (yes, that’s happened)– it can become too much pressure to perform. I don’t want to disappoint.”
During intercourse, Brad has experienced all of the difficulties that come with a big dick, including multiple penile fracture scares—which occur when a penis is bent to such an extreme angle that it ruptures the fibrous coverings that envelop the shaft (it’s happened to me and it’s grotesque)—when bottoms weren’t being careful. Because a fracture can cause sexual and urinary function, it is recommended they see a doctor. The degree of the injury may require an ice pack, a catheter, or even surgery to restore the urethra. “I’ve had so many instances of shit-dick it’s not even funny,” he says. “I go deeper than your douche, so make sure you’re thorough when you clean. I’ve also made guys bleed and nearly vomit.” Another man I spoke to once sent his partner to the hospital, as his size caused an anal fissure and excessive bleeding.
According to Kort, “big dick privilege” exists because we’re taught that large penises should be revered and that all partners, male or female, want one. “But this is not true,” he assures. “The issue with my clients is that it often hurts the partner and sexual positions are limited.” As a result, Kort explains the bottom may not want anal penetration as frequently. Consequently, the top feels badly not wanting to hurt his partner. “Both partners are then left longing for anal penetration and not being able to have it with one another—at least not as often as they would like,” he says.
“Many of these men feel fetishized; it is very hurtful to them to be wanted for one body part,” he explains. “If a guy has a larger penis and is into being fetishized that is one thing. But to have another person reduce you to just being a big dick then this can be hurtful in the same way a guy is belittled for having a small penis.”
Being unable to penetrate as deep as desired was on top of the list of disadvantages, as is jealousy. “The partner of the man with the larger penis can feel insecure, as if he’s less than, and can devalue the partner with the larger penis,” Zinn says. “It’s cruel, and can really hurt the well-endowed person’s feelings. Or, the jealousy can get in the way of a relationship, as the smaller partner doesn’t view him as an equal and feels like he has to compensate or adore his partner more.”
More often than not, well-endowed men don’t compare themselves to average appendages. It’s merely the smaller man’s insecurity projected onto the other. “I’ve had guys tell me during the hookup that they feel like less of a man and even ask me if I’m sure that I’m attracted to them and their size,” James says. “If I see your dick pics or you tell me your size and then I show up, that means I want it.”
Big dick fetishization has long been tied to race. Numerous articles have been penned detailing the exploitation of black men and the “big black cock” (BBC). “Being biracial—half-black specifically—has made having a nice-sized dick quite the quandary,” Ethan shares. “Whenever anyone on the apps asks me what I’m mixed with, their instantaneous response is ’so which half is black?’ with the awful winking emoticon. I find myself going in spurts if deleting the apps for this very thing which happens way more often than one should ever have to deal with.”
The advice Kort shares with endowed patients is fairly simple: Be upfront about your size and don’t be afraid to discuss it. “If a partner is unwilling to have empathy, then this is not the right hookup or relationship for the well-endowed man,” he says. “If he senses the guy is with him just for his big dick then I would recommend addressing that and, depending on the reaction, choose whether to continue or not.”
When requesting hung individuals to speak on these challenges, someone snarkily responded, “I can’t wait to read how hard they have it.” Their cynicism is expected, but the truth of the matter is, this wasn’t intended to pity the big-dicked man. It was to talk about the lesser-known disadvantages these individuals face. There is pressure, there is fear, there is apprehension, embarrassment, fetishization, and injury.
The truth is, “big dick problems” are physical and social. Some are so intense, the men start to begrudge their own endowment.
The grass may seem longer or thicker, but don’t assume it’s any greener.