How to Do It

I’ve Finally Found the Answer to My Small Penis—and It Terrifies Me

Man looking a little ashamed but not too ashamed in front of a neon eggplant.
Animation by Slate. Photo by PhotoAlto/Sigrid Olsson/Getty Images.

How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!

Every week, the crew responds to a bonus question in chat form.

Dear How to Do It,

I’m a married man in my 40s, and I have a small penis. Not on the line, “maybe”—just small. I struggled most of my life with how it affected how I interacted with others. I am aware it has had too much of an influence on who I am. I have taken the issue head on recently and discussed it with a psychiatrist. She did not directly point me in the direction of “small penis humiliation,” but said it helped other people embracing the issue. After exploring it, I found I am very fond of it. It is completely detached from my personality in normal life, which may be part of the point. I normally loathe attention and humiliation. I have addressed it with my wife, and she says knowing the pain the penis has caused me, she has trouble picturing humiliating me, which is understandable. But now I worry that my wife’s lack of interest in it is causing it to bleed into my everyday life with friends and family. I have no understanding of it and it is difficult for me to find a steady place for it. The rush that comes with tapping into this part of me scares me. How do you reconcile a part of your sexuality you have no understanding of and lack control of?

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—Big Little Problem

Stoya: So the writer says it is completely detached from his personality in normal life, and also that he worries that his wife’s lack of interest in it is causing it to bleed into his everyday life with friends and family. I think that would be of interest to his therapist. And I’m curious what he means by “bleeding into everyday life.” Is he telling friends and family members about his genital dimensions? Is he finding himself feeling small and laughable in the middle of the workplace?

Rich: Or is it just generally causing distraction?

Stoya: If that’s the case, meditation or some cognitive behavioral techniques seem like a probable solution.

Rich: I’m also a little unclear as to what extent small-penis humiliation has been “explored” if our writer’s wife is unwilling to partake—whether he’s actually taken part in some sort of play with someone else, or if he’s just explored it philosophically.

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Stoya: I was imagining maybe looking at small penis humiliation videos.

Rich: That would make sense. I think reconciling his general distaste for humiliation and his desire for it here just requires a suspension of logic. Sometimes what turns us on doesn’t make sense! And he can’t do anything about his small penis, not really, but he can find power in the way he regards it during sex.

Stoya: I’m not sure any of us really understand the whys of our sexuality. When we’re talking about a specific that’s usually seen as a fetish, it can feel othering.

Rich: The best we can do is draw associations.

Stoya: But I’m not sure even the most vanilla person could articulate what is compelling about breasts or buttocks.

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Rich: It’s all theoretical.

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Stoya: That inability to pin down in language can be one of the beautiful aspects of sexuality. To go beyond words.

Rich: For me, it is a haven. I spend my days ensconced in words; it’s nice to leave that realm for a bit. I think our writer could really just lay this out to his wife: “Look, I know it might not make sense to you—I’m not sure that it does to me—but I think this sort of play would help me process something that has given me a considerable amount of shame, and turn it into a positive.” She may still turn him down—and that’s her right—but maybe appealing to her compassion, which she already is evincing, could do the trick.

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Stoya: And if the wife passes, he might gently inquire as to whether she’d take issue with him video-chatting with a professional.

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Rich: Yes, this very specific play doesn’t even need to involve any sort of sex, in the conventional, penetrative sense.

Stoya: I welcome online clients who are exploring and communicative. And I’ve seen enough of them that I imagine many digital experience providers know how to help someone explore their desires gradually.

Rich: At the very least, I would love our writer to take away from us that he doesn’t need to feel shame for wanting something that might ameliorate shame. No sense in piling on.

Stoya: He’s got a small penis, and that’s OK. He likes to hear humiliation about it, and that’s OK. It makes him feel better about his body, and that’s wonderful.

More How to Do It

I’m a married woman. I had a three-month affair with an old boyfriend, “Jim,” that ended abruptly two weeks ago when I got an email from a friend saying “Check this out!” with a link to CNN. I clicked and a page with a video player showing a picture of the guest bedroom in my house opened. (I later noticed my friend’s email name had an 8 changed to a 3, and the CNN link was fake too.) I clicked play, and a message popped up: “I know you’re watching.” I had a full-blown panic attack as I watched a 53-minute high-resolution, clear-sound video featuring Jim and me having sex. No one besides “Will,” my husband, could have been in the house. There’s an alarm system. He’s also a computer engineer. He’d know exactly how to do all of this. I gave Jim the link. He’s married and panicked too.

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