Please talk about your penis some more.

A conversation I just had:

Boys: “Let’s talk about our penises for 15 minutes straight!”

Me: “You’re always talking about your penises.”

Boy: “Well you’re going to talk about your vagina for like, THREE HOURS STRAIGHT when you’re in The Vagina Monologues next month!”

He’s kind of right. At least to some degree, I am going to be talking about vaginas for a while. Actually, I’ll only be on stage for like, five minutes (I can’t act and got a really tiny part with several other girls). But other girls will be talking about vaginas for a while.

Boy: There’s no Penis Monologues!

Actually, there is. Here’s a whole bunch of Penis Monologues for you to moon over. While you’re all busy talking about your penises. And making fun of women.

Here’s the thing, though – you’re going to talk about your penises. You’re going to do it. You’re proud of them. And why shouldn’t you be? Great. Yours are SO BIG or something. Whatever. I know, masculinity means you all have to fight over WHO HAS THE BIGGEST ONE. That’s why I think you should all go into the bathroom, have a measuring contest, and shut up.

No, that’s not what I really want, even though it would be great sometimes. What I really want is for everyone to get over the I HAVE THE BIGGEST PENIS SYNDROME and just be proud of whatever genitals you happen to have an then MOVE ON.

I’d like that for women, too. But that’s not going to happen – at least, not yet. That’s why The Vagina Monologues exist: because women don’t normally talk about their vaginas – and not only do we not talk about them, it’s like we’re not allowed to talk about them. It’s awkward. Someone made a joke tonight about women bleeding every 28 days and all the men got awkward except for him. Because talking about female reproduction? GROSS.

We’re ashamed of our vaginas. We’re told they smell weird and they’re gross because there’s blood sometimes. We’re told birth is nasty. Whatever goes on down there? No one wants to know, so we also start acting like they’re gross and it becomes awkward to discuss.

And it IS awkward, the first time you go in there, for the show, because you’re like “OH MY GOD THEY’RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT VAGINAS.” And guess what? They talk about vaginas. And female orgasm and masturbation and birth and sexual assault and rape.

But you guys talk about your dicks all the time. A show about penises wouldn’t be anything interesting because you discuss it while playing beer pong on a regular basis. That’s why no Penis Monologues has made it big.

And I’m not saying there aren’t issues associated with penises and masculinity. There are. Prison rape is still a huge issue; erectile dysfunction is discussed in the context of Bob Dole, old men and laughable Viagra and Cialis television commercials. There’s a whole universe of equality in sex to sort through, how to experience equal sex as enjoyable instead of simply a loss of privilege. But to act like talking about penises is unique, or that there’s a need to normalize it, is just irritating.

Our first read-through of The Vagina Monologues was a fascinating exercise in getting used to talking about vaginas. Some people had to say the word a lot – and some of those people were uncomfortable. Well, yeah you were uncomfortable. We NEVER talk about vaginas. We never say the word. We’re barely allowed to say the word.

Bonus: Apple thinks “vaginas” isn’t a word.

But, I mean, whatever. Go write a show about your penises. I’m sure lots of people will go see it, since we’re totally not bored yet.

    • Eileen
    • January 24th, 2011

    I think the plural of vagina is actually vaginae. (Apple doesn’t recognize that as a word, either, though.) And the appropriate plural of penis is penes, although that kind of sounds too much like peonies.

    As long as we’re (I’m) talking about genitalia and Latin plurals, though, I once read a pseudo-academic book that referred to a woman’s “labias.” Fail, Nancy Etcoff, fail.

    (This is a mostly irrelevant comment that owes its existence to the fact that I have to read Judith Butler now and I’d rather not.)

      • Melanie
      • January 27th, 2011

      Hm, online Merriam-Webster says both vaginae and vaginas are acceptable. And thanks to this comment/post I searched “plural of vaginas” on the computer in the room I run studies in… Note to self: clear history. However, the PC that I run studies on does accept vaginae as a word under spell check, but not vaginas.

      On another, still not entirely relevant note, which monologue are you doing?

      Now to relevance!
      Great post, there definitely is a need to normalize talking about vaginas. I help run the Sexual Health Awareness Group (I am equal parts ashamed and pleased by our acronym) and we borrowed a bit from the Vagina Monologues as one of our icebreakers. We asked everyone to tell us what their genitalia would be wearing. It was interesting to me to watch people’s reactions in general and especially the guys. Several of them cringed visibly when faced with the prospect of imagining vaginae in clothing. However, even more interestingly (at least to me) several of them still seemed uncomfortable when forced to clothe their own genitalia as well.

      The point of my rambling anecdote is that while I certainly agree that talking about penes (not a word according to spell check) is more common in society, there is still an issue of context. While these same guys are comfortable bragging about size or whatnot, they were not comfortable when forced to associate it with themselves on a more personal, connected level. Personally, my feeling on the matter is that a lot of this stems from our culture’s dichotomous approach to sex. Bragging about sexual prowess or size of penis is manly and acceptable, but sex is still seen as somewhat shameful and certainly taboo for polite conversation. Out of the context of locker room pissing contests, men feel equally as ashamed to openly discuss their genitalia. While I don’t think there should be a Penis Monologues, I think we do need to encourage more open discussions of sexuality that don’t have to do with size or even necessarily masculinity.

      Hope that was more coherent than I feel like it was, I’m kinda out of it.

    • I believe the plural of “dick” is “dicks”
    • January 24th, 2011

    And likewise, the plural of “cock” is “cocks”.

    • Eileen
    • May 27th, 2011

    Dear Mara,

    The academic year is over, and while you are still working you do not have to go to class anymore. As an under-employed recent graduate, I think you should start writing blog posts again, because whether I agree with them or not, they are a great way to keep me from being BORED OUT OF MY MIND MISSING GEORGETOWN.

    Love and kisses,


    • Mike
    • April 30th, 2013

    It cool u can talk about this subject so openly I love it there is so much to discover call me 905 872 8638 so we can text u may be surprised with what I have discover thx

    • big D H
    • September 9th, 2013

    My cock is long and kinda fat but not really. It can tuch under my chin if hard I am 16 years of age I was born with a “hugeular difishense” that makes my dick grow a inche or more every other year till I’m 18 years of age ps I do not suck or lick my cock

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