By Katie Toth, Sex Columnist
When I talk about gender, I often get excited about sexism, queer issues, fluidity and feminism. But there’s this one thing that is so gendered, so identified with masculinity and with confidence in our society that I just had to investigate it. It’s the phallus. The cock. The purple yogurt slinger. It’s the penis.
The penis is an amazing part of the human body – it can shrink, grow, urinate, impregnate, give and receive pleasure. Yet it seems like mainstream pornography and movies like American Pie are the only sources where we can find discussion of this magical tool. There are no Penis Monologues, no discussions of how it feels to be small or big, that aren’t immediately turned into emasculating jokes.
I spent three days reading about penises this week and got so enthused that I decided to share with you seven fun penis facts. Hopefully those with or without penises can appreciate the wonders of these little guys a bit more, because even if they’re not as big as John Holmes’, that doesn’t mean they’re not awesome.
1. The penis can get a pimple.
Just like any part of our bodies with hair follicles and sweat glands, sebum can build up under the skin, get inflamed, and become a zit. If you think you have a pimple or ingrown hair on your shlong, especially if it’s in an area of the penis that has a few hairs already, then it might be just that. If your red friend doesn’t go away for a few days, though, you should definitely get it checked out. And if you’re unsure whether it looks like a pimple or something more suspicious, such as a sore, rash, pustule, wart, rugburn or sunburn, waddle quickly to the local clinic or your trusted physician. And of course, if your penis is burning or itching, and a quick scratch isn’t making the sensation go away, you need to get tested.
2. Penises change colour when they get hard.
They can turn red, brown-red or even purple! Don’t be afraid if your penis likes to join the rainbow brigade when you become aroused – it just makes your little guy that much more unique.
3. The penis multi-tasks.
Unlike vulvas, which have a separate urethra and vagina – different holes for urinary and reproductive functions, respectively – the penis has one orifice doing all the work. Urine, pre-cum and semen all come out of this same tiny opening at the center of the head of the penis.
4. Penises don’t need to be circumcised.
In 1999, the American Pediatric Association made it clear that there is no basis for infant circumcision. While people still continue to circumcise for religious (or occasionally, cosmetic) reasons, doctors no longer push infant circumcision as a method of maintaining hygiene or preventing infection. Hooray!
5. Uncircumcised penises gather smegma.
Uncircumcised men can find smegma, a sticky white substance of oils, dead skin cells, and moisture, between the foreskin and the head of the penis. Some researchers believe smegma is meant to lubricate the space between the foreskin and head of the penis, making sex more comfortable. Female-bodied peeps also get smegma, between their clitoris and the labia minora (just around the clitoral hood). A little smegma isn’t a bad thing, but folks at Planned Parenthood emphasize that you clean under the foreskin regularly (when you take a shower) to prevent its aging buildup against your body, which may lead to infections.
6. It’s impossible to have excess sperm build up in your body.
Sperm, which are formed in the testes, wait in the epididymis to mature for up to six weeks. Sperm that are not released get old, die and are reabsorbed into the body. So you don’t need to masturbate to prevent a sperm backlog. One could, however, consider masturbating to relieve stress, give their skin a healthy glow, and become a better sexual partner. And according to Dr. Yvonne Fulbright of Fox News, masturbation and solo sexy fun times “may increase a man’s virility.”
7. The prostate gland actually has a function other than feeling good when touched.
Also known as the “male G-spot”, the prostate stores an antacid fluid that mixes with pre-cum and sperm to neutralize the urethra before ejaculation. Remember how I said that the urethra is a transport mechanism for both urine and ejaculate? Well, because sperm are sensitive little fellows, they can be burnt to death by the high acidity in urine. This alkaline fluid lets them swim to their end destination – be it a cervix, an anus or a condom – safely.
This gland, about the size of a walnut, is very sensitive, and many people, whatever their orientation or gender identity, enjoy prostate stimulation. And it can be good for you; prostate stimulation and orgasms may prevent prostate cancer. So, if you’re into that sort of thing, get out some lube, wear some gloves, which you should immediately throw out afterward, and reach up for the P-spot!
Those are just a few of the exciting features of the biological cock. You’ll notice I didn’t even approach issues such as average size, length or girth, because it’s really not important. When your penis can turn purple who cares about measuring it?
I just hope that we can enjoy the penis for everything it is, and does, instead of freaking out about what it says about our personalities or how successful in bed we’ll be. Love your penis, penis-owners, because it’s probably not going anywhere.