I love the penis. Whether you call it a cock, dong, willy, member or dick, most of us have one or have ‘had’ one (I’d bet that even the majority of lesbians have had an encounter with a male member at least once). I like the damn thing so much, I’ve found it rather easy to write over 800 words on the subject.

It’s rarely seen in public, but the penis is a body part that informs just about any aspect of our lives. It can be as direct as having one inside of you or simply dealing with an annoying man compensating for his small penis. The knob has ruled the patriarchal world for millennia. Truth is, for better or worse, you simply can’t escape the cock.

Men, gay or straight, have an ongoing love affair with their penis. It’s likely that most will masturbate well into their death-bed, and probably dying seconds if they’re still able. Barring the occasional let-down or medical complaint, one’s penis is a friend that never talks back, never leaves you and always makes you feel good. (It’s a bit of a messy companion at times, but nothing’s perfect is it?)

When it comes to specifically gay men, it’s not only your own package that you find fascinating, but those of others. I’ve been surprised to hear from some women that they find the penis unappealing if not downright repulsive; it’s seen as a necessary evil of sorts when it comes to sex. I feel that’s rather unfortunate (something like wanting to eat sushi, but not liking fish), and have yet to come across a gay man that feels the same way.

This occasional difference of opinion may account for why it appears as if gay men are often more eager to gobble down on a man’s member than some women. Now don’t get me wrong, I may have a thing for penises (I can never get used to the plural of penis; it doesn’t quite roll of the tongue does it?), but that doesn’t mean that I’ll take on any old thing. A connoisseur of the male member will acknowledge in all frankness that not all penises are born equal.

“… when it comes to these matters of the loins, subjective gut reactions are all we have to work with…”

The most commonly considered measure of a penis is size. It’s true, sadly for some, that size does count, but perhaps not to the extent that people think it does. Personally, size is often more about perception that its physical impact on the mechanics of sex; a larger dick just seems more sexual, and yes, more manly. There’s something boyishly asexual about a smaller piece of equipment that doesn’t quite stimulate the right synapses. In this brain at least.

I shamefully admit that I’ve dumped a guy with whom I had a fling largely because of his very (very) small penis. Now if I had really fallen for him, I don’t know if I’d have done the same. It’s the only time – and embarrassingly shallow I know – but in my defence I have to re-state that he was VERY small indeed. Do bear in mind that size can also get out of hand. Freakishly large, and there’s not much to be done with it, other than admiring it from afar or running out of the room in panic.

However, size is but one feature that the true expert will consider. There’s the issue of circumcised (cut) or uncircumcised (uncut). That’s simply personal preference – but for some it’s a make or break consideration. This often falls along cultural lines; American and Xhosa men tend to be cut, while Afrikaans and European guys keep the hood on. It makes no real difference to me, but a shrivelled up uncut penis in its flaccid state can often look humorous rather than sexy. Once they’re all excited and rigid (the penis’ raison d’être anyway) the uncut or cut proposition doesn’t really make much of a difference.

Then there are the more difficult to define aesthetic considerations that appeal or disturb the eye. For example, excessive length alone can seem rather odd; thin long penises can look out of proportion if not balanced with appropriate girth. (I’ve never considered the mathematics of this ratio of length to width, but I know what I like dammit.) And what of angle of projection? Some point up, others point to the side, and occasionally some angle down when erect.

Also consider the appearance of the veins that regulate the blood flow to this wondrous organ. A penis in which the veins are rather prominent is more appealing; a bumpy member tends to look more aggressive and masculine than a smooth cylinder. Of course, all this is but mere opinion and personal preference – probably informed by watching too many porn films – but when it comes to these matters of the loins, subjective gut reactions are all we have to work with.

It’s rather unfair to discuss the penis without his (and yes, the penis is a ‘him’) often ignored partners in crime, the testicles (balls, cajones, scrotum, whatever…). Unfair it may be, but that’s an entirely different discussion for another column. In the meantime, be good to your penis if you have one (even penises need love), and if not, go on; go out there and hug one today.

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