How to Do It

My Boyfriend Wants Me to Humiliate Him for a Terrible Reason

What should I tell him?

A man and woman looking timid in bed. A small neon eggplant hangs above them.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Estradaanton/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Send your questions for Stoya and Rich to howtodoit@slate.com.

Every Thursday night, the crew will answer one bonus question in chat form. This week, a surprising request.

Dear How to Do It,

I am a woman seeing a new man, and we waited a few dates to sleep together, mostly because he didn’t try. I didn’t think much of it, but when we did have sex, he was sheepish to take off his underwear, and yep, it turns out he has a small penis. This is OK for me—I do prefer some size, but he’s eager and good at other things, so I am not too worried about it. (I’m pretty sure he’s below average, if you’re wondering what I mean by “small”; I’d say 4 inches or fewer.)

He eventually opened up and confirmed the reason he waited to initiate sex is that he wanted to get to know me a little bit so I wouldn’t reject him outright. I was a little hurt by this, but I understand he’s had bad experiences. However, he also told me that his past experiences with women, especially as a teenager, have given him a fetish to be ridiculed for his small penis. I guess it happened enough that it turns him on. Basically, he was embarrassed to tell me he likes to be embarrassed because of his junk. This just feels wrong to me. I don’t want to “kink shame,” or whatever, but I also do not think it’s right for me to further pathologize a normal dick variation, even if he wants me to. I also feel like he should get therapy for this. What do you think?

—Small Problem

Stoya: A long, long time ago, in a dark dungeon on the third or so floor of an office building, I was called in to help with a similar situation. The man had an actual micropenis, and he wanted a large number of women to giggle at and taunt him.

Rich: “We’re gonna need backup …”

Stoya: Basically. So I want this woman to understand that her new man is way less complicated than he could be. He doesn’t require a bevy of cackling. A line of laughing ladies.

Rich: Eight maids a-milking …

Stoya: … their nipples, which are larger than his dick. Anyway, therapy is an excessive request here, and if she’s not into it, she should move on.

Rich: I think that’s exactly right. This is garden-variety erotic humiliation. And honestly, how would a therapist help him cope with this diminutive dick better than he already is? He’s eroticized it. Life gave him a small dick and he made lemonade. Hopefully he didn’t use the dick to stir it, but whatever it takes! He’s doing fine!

Stoya: And there are plenty of women who can easily tolerate, or even enjoy, what he’s asking for.

Rich: The one thing I don’t love about this kind of kink is the slight emotional imposition. What if my reaction to your small penis isn’t to laugh or mock? I get it, it’s play, and to want to participate, you would enjoy such imposition, etc., but from my remove, my take is that I just strongly dislike being told how to feel. For free, at least.

Stoya: What is your reaction to a small penis?

Rich: I don’t flinch. I would never want anyone to feel bad (unless he wanted to feel bad) about judgment for something entirely out of his control. And while I’d rather suck something that requires effort to completely fill my mouth/throat, if a dick is super hard, it’s going to be hot to me regardless. If it’s smallish/softish that starts to kind of chip away at my arousal. But I’m a soldier, and I typically bypass most size-related issues without incident. What about you?

Stoya: The only one I can think of wasn’t even small, he was just convinced it was. ~5 inches isn’t small, correct?

Rich: Yeah, that’s about average.

Stoya: The actually-just-small-end-of-average guy was fixated in a way that involved his ethnicity, which was uncomfortable for me.

Rich: Oh yeah, race play is a whole other area that I don’t broach. I wouldn’t even know what to do? Kink stuff all feels advanced to my meat-and-potatoes sex-having ass. I always feel like I don’t know what to say and then I don’t want to be told what to say. “Can we just … not talk?” I prefer to have my body do the talking.

Stoya: Ha. Yes. I know that feeling. So, for moving on, our writer might want to think ahead of time about what she’ll say.

Rich: It’s super OK to not be into something and to say it as plainly as that: “Sorry. Not for me.”

Stoya: If she wants to be gentle, she might express a hope that he finds the trash-talking size queen of his dreams.

Rich: Yeah, I mean, she doesn’t want him to pathologize this further, but she’ll have to be careful not to fall into the same trap. What if what he really wants is to be humiliated for wanting to be humiliated for having a small penis? What if he wasn’t embarrassed to tell her at all, that it was all part of some bid for exponential humiliation?

Stoya: Improbably meta. If that were the case, I’d be so entertained.

Rich: I know—submission is a delicate dance. Sub too hard, and you’re dom. Sometimes you gotta keep turning the screw to maintain the sensation.

Stoya: Mr. Meat and Potatoes. So maybe he gets off on humiliation in general? Not specifically on being humiliated in this particular way?

Rich: Yeah, I mean, I think you’re right that it’s improbable that he’d take it to another level. But you never know, and it could make real talk more complicated than expected.

Stoya: This is true: I wonder if that’d be easier for our writer to process.

Rich: In any case, I think it would ultimately be foolish to attempt to change him—this is something that has been cooking for so long. His small-penis thing is bigger than her. And it’s totally harmless. Let him have his anguished fun.

More How to Do It

I live in an apartment with stereotypical “thin walls” and with frequently noisy neighbors. This isn’t a complaint. I actually enjoy hearing them have sex and commonly masturbate while listening. I recently had a friend over, during which time we overheard the neighbors going at it. My friend commented that it must be so annoying to have neighbors like that, but I confessed that I enjoyed it and would sometimes masturbate to it. My friend was very offended by this—she thought it was a massive invasion of the neighbors’ privacy and equated it to hiding in their closet. My belief is that since the neighbors would understand the limited soundproofing of the building, they then concede the right to auditory privacy when they’re very loud. So as long as I am within the confines of my own apartment and not trying to actively record them or use some sort of sound-enhancing equipment, I have not invaded anyone’s privacy. Have I overstepped, or am I in the clear?