In The Penile Colony (Part One)

A penis, by any other name: On certain men’s propensity for naming their junk

The moment D.W. made it past the first quatrain of Sonnet 116, reciting “O no! it is an ever-fixed mark/That looks on tempests and is never shaken”, it was all I could do not to rip his shirt off him in that Japanese restaurant in Chelsea. This was a few years ago; we were on our fourth date and had both agreed to take things slow before jumping into bed. Perfect, dreamy D.W., who adored Rauschenberg, played Chopin with the best of them, and could tell his Kierkegaard from his Kant (he was a former seminarian). What’s not to love about D.W.? He was funny, caring and – I imagine – hairy in the right places. Earlier that evening, he had invited me to his place after dinner “to show me something” – finally! – as I counted the weeks before we moved in together and got a dachshund. Things couldn’t possibly get any better.

Until later at his place. When he called his penis Moses.

Taking my silence as an invitation to plow on, he explained, “You see, everytime Moses raises his staff, the Red Sea parts”. As the Mariah-Whitney song from The Prince of Egypt started playing in my head, I realized there was no hint of irony in his voice, no wink to dismiss the whole thing as a joke. In fact, he believed every word and said it in a vaguely reverent tone one must use when speaking of a Great Moment in Penis History.  I didn’t know what to think of Moses – I wanted to think this new side to D.W. was the exception and not the rule – but it was hard not to notice him looking up at me, a southern proboscis that would make Monsieur de Bergerac blush. D.W. spent the next two hours regaling me with Moses’ adventures, exodus after Red-Sea-parting exodus. But no matter how much I liked D.W., I realized then that I wasn’t ready for the ménage à trois he had in mind. I had a feeling that Moses would come between me and D.W. in more ways than one.

I decided not to see D.W. after that and I’m sure Moses has since brought a fair share of men to the promised land.  If D.W. had just a little sense of humor about it, I think I would’ve admired the spunk of mixing up these strange bedfellows, sex and religion. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder: Was it wrong to dump a guy because he gave his penis a pet name?

What’s In A Name?

I became interested in what makes guys (and apparently one out of five do) want to give their schlongs terms of endearment and the circumstances under which this usually happens. When it came to naming one’s penis, does size matter? Do cockier guys do it to advertise their junk and think that, there being truth in their advertising, they could get away with it anyway? On the other hand, is it a gesture of self-deprecating humor among the modestly endowed set, a way to neutralize their sexual partner’s reaction upon encountering the cold, hard – and little – truth? Second, is it a question of a guy’s comfort with sexual language? Nicknames, after all, are euphemisms. If a guy prefers to call it “Mr. Robinson” instead of the more ubiquitous “dick” or “cock”, is he trying to mask his prudishness with cheeky nomenclature? Or is it an attempt to humanize sex by injecting humor, making it more playful and therefore emotionally engaging? 

Most importantly, does it have anything to do with his psychological health?

Dr. Paul Hoch doesn’t seem to think it’s healthy, maintaining that “many men even speak of their penis as if  it were not a part of the body, but a distinct personality apart. Often, ‘it’ is even given a name (Peter). The fact that Peter, but not me, does the copulating, of course, removes me from any responsibility”. This reminds me of that joke that goes: Why do men name their penis? Well, they like to be on a first name basis with the one making most of their decisions. In “Studs, Tools, and the Family Jewels: Metaphors Men Live By”, Peter Francis Murphy contends that “[the name] objectifies the [sex] act, removing from it any emotional connections. By personalizing their penises, ironically enough, men objectify them; they treat them like pets they can train to do tricks, and they relegate them to a place outside their humanity.”

The Boner Supremacy

Michael Kimmel has less of an issue with it, pointing out in “The Gendered Society” that:

If men’s sexuality is “phallocentric” – revolving around the glorification and gratification of the penis – then it is not surprising that men often develop elaborate relationships with their genitals. Some men name their penis – “Willie”, “John Thomas”, or “Peter” – or give them cute nicknames taken from mass-produced goods like “Whopper” and “Big Mac”. Men may come to believe that their penises have little personalities, (or, perhaps, what feel like big personalities), threatening to refuse to behave the way they are supposed to behave.

Of course, Moses, Peter and their brethren – both straight and gay – also have ardent fans and they all happen to belong to Miss Becky’s Charm School:

Actually, it is very convenient for a man’s penis to have a name, because we all know that Southern belles love euphemisms. Good gracious, it is just so embarrassing and direct to say “penis”! And, it makes it so much easier to talk about sex. Instead of the very stilted, “Are you interested in having sex now?” the Southern belle can ask, “Sugah, can Big Baby come out and play?” See how much better that is? So yes, naming the penis is important. Personally, I think a man who has not named his penis might serious be lacking in a sense of humor, and no Southern belle wants a man who cannot laugh at himself.

Would you date a guy who referred to his third leg in the third person? Or would it depend on the name he gave it? (More on this in Part Two). 


One Response to “In The Penile Colony (Part One)”

  1. Naming your Penis and French having the best chocolate … what other presumptions are to follow ???
    Can we please stay with facts and finally accept, that the best chocolate worldwide ever made was, is and always will be manufactured by HOT Germans with nameless penisses !!!

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