Sex & Dating | April 30, 2020 9:41 am

“Boyfriend Dick” Is the Latest Iteration of a Very Reductive, Very Tired Debate

Netflix's "Too Hot To Handle" has reignited a familiar conversation about penises. It shouldn't have.

penis size
Leave the dicks alone.
Rinee Shah for InsideHook

Despite the myriad socioeconomic advantages that tend to come with a penis, I’ve always been really glad I don’t have one. This is not to shade those who have penises nor those who would like to. Not wanting genitals other than the ones with which you were born is a privilege, but the convenience of being born with genitals that match the gender with which I identify is not the only reason I’m glad to have been spared a dick.

While women tend to bear the brunt of society’s unrealistic standards of physical attractiveness, most are at least spared the somehow still immense pressure to have a big penis. As a woman who has dyed, shaved, starved, waxed, pushed up, wished, willed and even prayed for various parts of my body to conform to whatever beauty ideal is being peddled to me at any given time, I don’t want to know what kind of havoc I would wreak on a dick if I had one to feel insecure about.

And while most mainstream conversations surrounding physical appearance seem to have agreed that female-focused body-shaming is no longer PC in the age of body positivity and related mentalities, critical discussions of dick size remain alive and well.

Most recently, the Netflix reality series Too Hot to Handle reignited the conversation thanks to a brief mention of “boyfriend dick” in the first episode. “It’s not too big, not too small. Just perfect. Looks pretty,” Harry Jowsey, the self-proclaimed boyfriend-dick haver explained to a few of his fellow castmates.

Those castmates, eager to suggest that their own dicks far surpassed “boyfriend dick” territory, were quick to mock the theory, but the reality TV contestant isn’t the first to tout the advantages of the boyfriend dick. The Goldilocks-esque philosophy of ideal dick size was first popularized by Amanda Mull in a 2017 MEL article — though her overview was a bit more nuanced, qualifying that boyfriend dick is not “an exact measurement” but rather a “continuum of acceptability” that varies from person to person. Meanwhile, Urban Dictionary entries for the phrase date back to 2016.

Now here we are, still talking about it, and I can’t fucking believe it. Shortly after the series premiered on Netflix earlier this month, Twitter flooded with talk of boyfriend dick, Cosmopolitan and Men’s Health published obligatory boyfriend dick content, and MEL began recirculating the 2017 article as a veritable “we hit it first” victory lap.

At first blush, the idea of boyfriend dick feels subversive in that it challenges the “bigger is better” mentality that has long dominated discussions of dick size. By championing less-than-monstrous dicks, we feel like we are giving a voice to the little guy — or at least the average guy. When we “Well actually” the big penises of the world, we feel like we are dismantling one of the most glaring symbols of patriarchal oppression.

Men and women alike are attracted to the idea of boyfriend dick because dick shaming doesn’t just affect people with penises, but also those who have sex with penises, which means many women also internalize the same BS ideas about penis size and masculinity that men are fed from a young age. Growing up against the backdrop of Seinfeld reruns and their “shrinkage” jokes, I understood that as a straight woman, I was supposed to want to have sex with a big penis well before I ever encountered a penis of any size in real life. In high school, friends and I bragged to each other about the size of the first and only penises we had seen at that point. In college, I once drunkenly showed off a photo of a dick I’d had sex with posed next to a soda can for reference, even though I’d never actually fucked that dick to completion because the pain it caused me was unbearable. As a straight woman, the size of the penis that chooses you as its primary point of insertion feels like as much of a reflection of your worth as your weight and your skin and your clothing size and all the other superficial measurements of female value we internalize.

It’s a relief, then, to hear someone argue that big dicks aren’t shit, the same way we’re relieved to hear people say thick thighs are attractive or rail-thin supermodels aren’t. As a woman, graduating from bragging about your boyfriend’s giant dick to admitting you prefer a modest-sized penis feels sophisticated and subversive, like talking about quitting social media or casually “forgetting to eat.”

In the summer of 2018, the advent of “Big Dick Energy” led to similar boyfriend dick-adjacent conversations. Writing for Playboy shortly after BDE made its internet debut, Helen Donahue boldly declared that “big dicks fucking suck.” Despite the fact that, according to most definitions at the time, BDE doesn’t actually correspond to physical dick size, Donahue’s rallying cry to “annihilate the lore behind gigantic dicks,” to “burst from the confines of having to act like they’re good,” felt revolutionary. Guess what? We don’t want your big penis anyway. Now what are you going to do with it?

When I first heard Harry Jowsey bring up boyfriend dick on the first and only episode I watched of Too Hot To Handle, I initially felt similarly rallied. “Yeah,” I thought, throwing stones from the safety of my non-dick-having body, “big dicks suck!”

The problem with these sentiments, however, is that while they feel subversive, they’re merely a reversal of the exact same kind of body shaming that privileges big dicks over their more modest counterparts. Saying that big dicks suck isn’t actually any smarter, nicer, woker or more appropriate than saying small ones do, and while I imagine being told your dick is too big probably feels a lot like being told you’re too skinny, body shaming is still body shaming. Despite the fact that mainstream discussions of dick size don’t seem to have undergone the same scrutiny that’s encouraged us to frown upon similar conversations about women’s appearance, arguing over the ideal dick size isn’t any better than publicly debating the ideal vagina.

I’m not saying that societal standards dictating what a vagina should be like aren’t alive and well. Trust me, as a vagina haver, I am well aware of the expectations. But at least when it comes to vaginas there is some pretense of having evolved beyond reinforcing those expectations in mainstream media. To put it bluntly, MEL probably isn’t going to run an article explaining the merits of “girlfriend pussy” anytime soon.

Conversations about dick size, whether too big, too small or just right, are dated and toxic and I can’t believe we’re still having them. Much like “all bodies are swimsuit bodies,” all dicks are boyfriend dicks, because boyfriend dick is in the eyes and orifices of the beholder. It’s well past time to retire this dated conversation. Let’s stop being dicks about dicks.

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