Voices: Will everyone please stop talking about Peter Andre’s penis

·4-min read
Apparently, back in the day, Rebekah Vardy and Peter Andre had a bit of a fling and Vardy was neither discrete nor complimentary about it (Getty Images)
Apparently, back in the day, Rebekah Vardy and Peter Andre had a bit of a fling and Vardy was neither discrete nor complimentary about it (Getty Images)

Imagine going about your business on an ordinary Tuesday, only to discover that the size of your genitals is being discussed in one of the UK’s most high profile celebrity trials. Pretty horrifying, right? How about you then check social media and find that your name is trending alongside the word “chipolata”?

Spare a thought, then, for poor old Peter Andre, whose penis became the surprise feature of yesterday’s trial between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney.

Apparently, back in the day, Vardy and Andre had a bit of a fling and Vardy was neither discrete nor complimentary about it. In fact, she gave a tabloid interview where she claimed “Peter’s hung like a small chipolata, shaved, slobbery, lasts five minutes”. TMI, Rebekah. TMI.

And crowds have gone wild. Genital jokes abound on social media and there are even personal stories about sexual partners who’ve had unsatisfactorily small penises.

For his part, Peter Andre seemed to see the funny side and responded with: “But the way I look at it, most people saw in the jungle how an acorn turned into an oak so I think I’m ok.”

But it’s a shame that this pernicious cultural myth is still being peddled so widely. That Andre feels he has to comment on the size of his genitals at all – and that he has to emphasise that his penis-is-actually-very-large-indeed-I-think-you’ll-find – is both sad and exposes the pressure on men to, quite literally, measure up in the trouser department.

It seems to me that we need to take a long, hard (excuse the pun) look at ourselves. Why should a comment about a body part prove to be such a devastating insult to men? Haven’t we cast off this daft, juvenile notion that the size of a body part is a reflection of personhood?

Can’t we see how problematic that is? It feeds into constructs of toxic masculinity that have proved time and again to be dangerous and damaging. For example, experts suggest that some men “use guns as a phallic symbol to represent power and domination”. If you need any persuading, have a look at a few gun ads. Bushmaster Firearms suggest that buying a gun is “proof of your manhood”.

Why are we still perpetuating this noxious, sexist idea that the size of a man’s penis bears any relation to their perceived masculinity? And that masculinity is about physical strength and violence? Why should the size of someone’s genitals have anything to do with what they’re like as a man?

We even describe the male genitals as “manhood”. I mean, come on! The idea that penis size correlates with “proper” masculine traits is nonsense.

But, of course, masculinity continues to be associated with strength, dominance and power, and the penis continues to be symbolic of these qualities. So a huge wang equals a strong and powerful man – as if appendage size overrides every other aspect of a man’s personhood.

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Surely we know by now that we need to look at the whole person and not the size of their willy to work out whether someone will be a decent, appealing, fun person to be with. It’s hardly a newsflash that sexual prowess is about being willing to offer pleasure to a partner and nothing to do with penis size.

It’s beyond the time to dismantle these stale ideas about masculinity. A man’s personal qualities cannot and should not be reduced to the size of their penis — and nor should their social status.

And before I get derided for not having a sense of humour – lighten up! It’s just a joke! Not everything has to be sexist! Willies are hilarious! – the relationship between the phallus and masculine power is culturally embedded and it’s supremely harmful for both men and women.

Making jokes on social media may trivialise the significance of our continued obsession with penis size, but it doesn’t do anything to address the problem of toxic masculinity represented by the celebration of large penises. Do we really need to hang so much significance on a penis? I think not. Now’s the time to take chipolata jokes off the menu.

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