Today, I got an ad in my email box that says this:
Penis Enlargement Patch
*Elevate sex drive to new levels - perform like a professional with your partner. She’ll love your new found sex drive!
*Maintain erections for longer periods – penetrate your partner for hours on end!
*Raise ejaculation volume - Ejaculate like a pornstar in enormous quantities!
*Help users realize a new degree of sexual confidence and control – realize total and absolute power and domination in bed with your partner, with your new found penis size and sexual performance!
Aww, thanks patriarchy!
Rarely do we see better examples of how our current system fucks us all over than in ads for “male performance.” As I read this, my face was contorted in horror — “Penetrate your partner for hours on end”? “Enormous quantities” of ejaculate? Now, this may be the stuff of bad (and apparently lengthy) pornos, but it does not sound like the stuff of genuinely enjoyable sex — for either person involved (and remember, the other person involved must be a “she”). Does anyone really feel like being penetrated for hours? Or being the receptacle for “enormous” amounts of body fluids?
Note the language here — sex is about “power” and “performance” and “domination,” but never about pleasure. Imagine if they sent out similar ads to women about sex enhancement something-or-other, and promoted it using this language. Is it just me, or would it sound like campy BDSM schtick?
And yet that’s what works when you want to sell shit to men by playing on their dick-related insecurities: Tell them that if they just buy this product, they can overpower and control things (women) with their giant, enormous-amounts-of-ejaculate-spewing cocks.
Which is somewhat different than how women are advertised to, isn’t it? Notice how this ad doesn’t say, “Dick too small? Give this a try!” It just says, “Use this and fuck your lady like a pro!” Ads targeted at women similarly play on insecurities, and similarly offer fantasy solutions, but they do it by explicitly pointing out your hideous, unimaginable flaws first. Consider diet ads — it’s always the fat lady in the bikini looking unhappy and frizzy-haired, until she is magically transformed into a tan, toned, smiling blonde. You, obviously, are meant to associate with the fat lady, and think, “well, bathing suit season is coming up…” and go out and buy some diet pills to transform yourself, too.
Guys get to skip the whole associating-with-small-dick-man thing when it comes to penis ads. Because advertisers wouldn’t want to insult you by insinuating that your penis — the root of all manhood and wordly importance — is on the small side. No, no, your penis is plenty big — it’s just not profession, porn-star big. Yet.
Not that this makes the penis-enhancement ads any better. They still play on male insecurity that his manhood just isn’t up to par, and they do it in completely dishonest ways, playing into thoroughly fucked assumptions of what sex is. Sex does not have to be the all-powerful male “dominating” and “over-powering” his docile female in a solely penetrative act. This sucks for women in all the obvious ways. But this also really sucks for men.
Why? Because sexual pleasure is a vast, almost never-ended territory, and if you begin and end at penis-in-vagina penatration you’re really missing out. And that model also requires some great physical feats from men. Erections are not permanentely sustainable. Penetration can only do so much to please your partner, whether they’re male or female. Not all men are capable of getting or maintaining erections for long periods of time, if at all.
How male-friendly is a patriarchal system if it tells men that they’re masculine failures if they don’t have a perma-boner? How human-friendly is a patriarchal system when its construction of the sex act completely excludes 98% of the human body — including notable exclusions of hands, mouths and tongues? Is it just me, or does sex under patriarchy sound really terrible?
Luckily, many of us are occassionally able to subvert patriarchy and have hot hot sex without this “ejaculate like a pornstar!” nonsense (and am I the only one who associates “ejaculate like a pornstar” with the so-called “money shot” at the end of seemingly every porno these days? Why else would the amount of ejaculate matter?).
But the more masculinity is defined as sexually dominating, virile, and achievement-oriented (“perform like a professional!”), the more men lose out. Pleasure is culturally influenced, too, and when men grow up believing that it’s primarily accessible to them only by exerting power and force over their partners, well — using the term “rape culture” shouldn’t seem like too much of a stretch here. It denies women both pleasure and physical safety. It denies men pleasure and authenticity, and centralizes their identities in their dicks. In short, it’s a big crock.
And an expensive one: Men are apparently expected to pay upwards of $200 for the “platinum package.” Now, I don’t speak for every woman out there, but if you’re doing this for me, darling, I would much prefer you invest in a rabbit habit, a nice Italian dinner, and a good bottle of red wine.