When it comes to sexual anatomy, some of these myths have to do with seeing a vagina as something more sacred, erotic and gentle than a penis. A penis on the other hand is seen as a symbol of enabling dominant power. At best. At worst, it is seen as a violent weapon with larger-than-life powers. (This is despite that male genitals are perhaps the most sensitive of all human body parts.)
Furthermore, or perhaps therefore, disturbing amounts of women don’t find the male sex visually attractive. Depending on their sexual preferences they may like how it feels but not how it looks. This problematic reality is due to the penis being symbolically linked to gendered power by men over women, aided in modern society through sexist phallocentric mass media images etc. It is difficult for many women to be attracted to something that they are constantly being told, however subtly, represents dominance over them.
This is not to say that power, submission and sexuality never go hand in hand – for many, these combinations are perfectly natural pleasures. Nor is it to say that sex is the only way that dominant masculinity is constructed. It is certainly not to suggest that there isn’t a real link between male sexuality and violence. Especially women and men who have experienced rape and sexual violence know this fact all too well.
Rather, it is to say that to continue to link male genitalia with patriarchal power is psychosexually destructive, and to change that we need to resist the idea that the male sex does not embody sensuality, beauty and love, whether erect or soft. Furthermore, as African masculinity is especially constructed as hypersexualized, lewd and extraordinarily potent we must realise that these often-colonial racist assumptions and myths cause a real communication breakdown in our communities.
To not link masculine power to size and virility is to revolutionise sexual relations in society. To not revolve manhood around sex is to open the rigid boxes that define our gendered identities. To find a flaccid penis erotic can be a sexual awakening for heterosexual women. To not internalise patriarchal ideas of male sexual aggression to the point where a penis is no longer a neutral, albeit sexual human organ but a symbol of domination is a humanist feminist act.
Hi! I’m Minna Salami. I’m a writer, blogger, columnist, lecturer and speaker and the founder of the feminist blog, MsAfropolitan, which connects feminism to contemporary culture from an Africa-centred perspective. I’ve been listed alongside Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie as one of “twelve women changing the world” by ELLE and my work has been used as a resource and case study at universities around the world. Like what you just read? Sign up above to receive new posts directly in your inbox.