TW for body talk and mentions of sexual abuse.
I know we're all tired of small dicks (Kirov... control yourself, no jokes), but I feel like I need to comment on the topic because I accidentally started a bit of a shitstorm this weekend. NYCyclist wrote a great post curating badass responses to sexual harassment. Several call-backers focused on the dick size of their harassers. This reminded me of a post from a while ago, by Tadpole, arguing that we shouldn't use dick size for cheap shots; that it's a form of body snarking and thus not cool. I disagree with his position, but not so vehemently that I don't respect his right to hold it: Tadpole, I didn't mean to cause a pile-up on you. I know from experience how stressful they can be, especially when the topic is one that you have a personal stake in.
I had a busy weekend and couldn't respond to the comments (I still haven't read them all, because after Cyclist's post got mainpaged they went kind of crazy), but I'd like to say a tiny bit about my view and the reason I wrote that comment.
Because the thing is, my view isn't the weaker view that dick size disparagement is OK when a particular guy has made the conversation about his dick, it's the stronger view that dick size disparagement is OK pretty much whenever a guy is being a dick.
Many people disagree with this. The arguments are typically of one of these forms:
—You're supporting the patriarchy by implicitly endorsing the view that small dick = bad; you're saying that men are right to be so obsessed with their phalluses. As one commenter eloquently put it, "Using it as an insult is using the patriarchy to your own (very brief) personal advantage while promoting a system that disadvantages all of us."
—You're hurting innocent bystanders: good, small-dicked men will be made insecure by your perpetuation of Dick Culture.
—Reductio: If it's OK to resort to small-dick talk, it's OK to resort to racial/homophobic/etc. slurs. You know that's not OK, so....
—All body snarking is the same: If it's not OK to call a woman fat when she pisses you off, it's not OK to comment on a guy's (possible) dick size.
Here's what I think: Yeah, it's reinforcing the small dick = bad view, which is fucking central to patriarchal thought. And you know what? I don't give a shit.
Women face more violence, institutionalized cruelty, and discrimination than any living creature should have to face. It has consequences in massive amounts of fear and pain. You know, I was raped for the first time when I was 13. I've been harassed virtually every day since I was 12. I've been fired because I wouldn't sleep with my boss, after countless goodnight hugs that involved him pressing my ass against his erection. I have had to work twice as hard as my male colleagues to get the same respect. I earned respect. They came in with it. And this shit hurts. It sucks to live with fear and pain as constants in your life — and you know what? For a long time you don't even know they're there.
Men made the dick-obsessed world I live in. MEN. And it is asking too much of me, after having my life ruled by dicks, to not hit where it hurts when I want to cause hurt. And where it hurts is below the belt — and that's not my fault. I'll trade in "not reinforcing the patriarchy" for playing dirty when I want to. I think this is actually similar to fashion models reinforcing the patriarchy while earning their livelihood. You do what you have to do.
And I don't really give a shit about the bystanders. The innocent men, worried about their dick size. Guys, work it out among yourselves. Fight the obsession with phalluses. But don't make it my responsibility. I have too much else to worry about, and you have so much, SO MUCH, that I will never have, just because you got born with one of those things (small as it may be).
Now, a bunch of people jumped on the then why not use racial slurs???? bandwagon. I think this is crap. Look, making fun of a guy's possible dick size is unfair. I grant that, 100%. It's playing dirty. But it's playing dirty with an oppressors' characteristic that HE made into a sign of potency. It wasn't women who got together and decided a big dick was the closest a human person could get to omnipotency. When you use a racial slur (or homophobic, or transphobic, or fatphobic), you're playing dirty with a characteristic that belongs not to an oppressive group, but an oppressed group. I think this is a crucial difference. In both cases, you want to hit where it hurts. But in using a racial slur, you're contributing to the oppression of a group that's already been massively fucked over. And don't tell me small-dicked men form an oppressed class. Seriously, don't.
Lastly, all body snarking is not the same. I'm sure it sucks to have a small dick. You know what sucks for women? Having any body at all. There is no such thing as a good female body, and the culture will never allow us the relaxation that comes from thinking, "I'm OK. As I am, I'm OK." From infancy we're told how flawed we are; from puberty, how filthy. We're fat and gross. Our vaginas smell like tuna, supposedly, and they have hair that they shouldn't have (no hair except eyebrows and head hair, ladies. Never forget, except we probably can't after middle school). If we're skinny enough we probably don't have big enough breasts; if we're curvy we might have cankles. Thousands of girls and women are dying from eating disorders (I came close to being one of them, when I dropped to 85 lbs on a 5'8 frame).
And dick size isn't even obvious, like fat and breast size! Fuck! When we make these comments, it's so easy to NOT take them personally unless you've dropped your pants in front of us. We can't hide our breasts like you do your precious dick!
In short, I just can't feel that as a feminist I have to be a saint. When a man is a jerk, I want to be rude and unfair once in a while. I could just stick to the arguments, or educate him about how he's an ass, but sometimes I want to hit below the belt. He's the one who made, to my detriment, the dick size issue so important. So I'm going to use it against him whenever I want.