JoySauce partnered with photographer Michelle Watt to shoot an exclusive series of photos examining American Asian identity. In the second of the series, we take a look at the common misconception that Asian men are less, ahem, endowed than non-Asian men, which is obviously misguided and emasculating. This photo, titled “Best of Show,” invites us to contemplate this harmful stereotype, while offering a tongue-in-cheek response.
I’m just gonna be blunt: my eggplant is probably just as big as the next guy’s. Whether you use the term johnson, weenie, pecker, wood, schlong, eggplant, “little Elvis”—I could go on—there is a belief (at least in white America) that Asian men have small dicks. And that has always been… confusing to me.
It started in fourth grade in the boys’ room. As I was doing my business at the urinal, classmates would peer over to ask, “Hey, is your peepee smaller than mine?” Even at age 9 I exclaimed, “Not appropriate!” Of course the few times that I did steal a glance back at my classmates, I discerned no difference other than color. More birch wood than cherry in the other stall?
The more important question is of course, why do men care?
When I was in a mostly white fraternity at college, I got a chance to really have a look. Not in a leery way, but when you’re all showering together to make an 8 a.m. class and everyone has a 1,000-yard stare from being hungover… no one is paying too much attention. I was frankly surprised at the variation. Some tall guys were actually on the smaller end, while short guys were sometimes well-endowed. Some wore turtlenecks, while others looked straight out of Tron. Still hanging on to my idea of penile egalitarianism, I reasoned that it was all probably the same and that any irregularity must simply be a function of lighting. Or maybe the guy was just… cold.
The Boston Medical Group compiled massive data from 20 studies on penis size from around the world, and they found that flaccid penis length averaged 3.61 inches, while flaccid penis girth was around 3.66 inches. And when erect, the average penis length was found to be 5.16 inches, and the average penis girth 4.59 inches. I find this reassuring because like a lot of men I just need a simple frame of reference. Am I a positive or negative variance from “normal”? Simple.
But individual variance from average is meaningless when speaking at scale. Is there real data that speaks to endowment differences across groups? Curiously, the Boston Medical Group apparently did lots more measuring… Here’s how their data sorted from most endowed to least:
- African-American/ Black
- White/Caucasian and Hispanic/Latino
- Asian American
- South-East Asian
- South Asian
- East Asian
Seeing my own kind at the No. 3 spot is like getting a B grade… in gym. And just like a lot of Asians of my generation did in school, I now look for ways to get extra credit. Let's convert that Asian B to an A. What if we began to look closer at causality. Why is the data this way? What if we cross-referenced the BMG data on endowment with data on say, average body size?
In a study conducted at Chosun University’s Department of Urology, 150 men were measured in various states of, um, excitement, and it was found conclusively that height was positively correlated to erect penile length and “lengthening ratio.” So the taller you are, the bigger your penis. It’s proportional. Noooooow we’re getting somewhere, because if we then compared height by race using recent 2018 CDC data, Asians Americans get roughly the same placement order as on the penis chart:
|Non-Hispanic White||69.8 in (177.4 cm)||64.3 in (163.3 cm)|
|Non-Hispanic Black||69.1 in (175.5 cm)||64.0 in (162.6 cm)|
|Non-Hispanic Asian||66.8 in (169.7 cm)||61.5 in (156.2 cm)|
|Hispanic||66.7 in (169.5 cm)||61.7 in (156.7 cm)|
So, it’s all proportional to body size. Asian men, nor any other groups, are not disproportionately less or more endowed. Everyone got their fair share.
And of course, the more important question is, why do men care at all?
The concepts of manhood, virility, and confidence have always been associated, in part, with penis size. Imagine that you’re a young man, and you’re told from around puberty that you are ‘less than’ other boys based simply on your race. That can mess with you. It doesn’t even matter if it’s true or not. Asian American are the least swiped-right on Tinder or Grindr. Asian American men are the least promoted to upper management of any group (including Asian women) due to perceptions of lacking leadership strength.
Recently I broached the topic with my 13-year-old son;
Me: “Are you aware that there’s a harmful stereotype that we have small dicks?
Teenage Boy: “Well yeah, but everyone my age thinks that’s just a joke. Like, big Asian YouTubers make fun of it.”
Me: “Oh? Ok, but do YOU think penis size matters?”
Teenage Boy: “Dad, can you just let me get back to MineCraft?”
This is all silly, right? To highlight the inherent comedy in contemplating this stereotype, photographer Michelle Watt cast a humble, almost sheepish-looking Asian actor, holding a hilariously monster-sized eggplant. “I wanted this to feel dramatic, exaggerated, camp, almost satirical,” she says. “Think a modern day Normal Rockwell meets Wes Anderson but with Asians.”
But OK really, is this important or not?
Let’s be clear, penis size representing a measurable attribute of ‘manhood’ is purely a cultural construct every bit as arbitrary, non-fixed, and capable of change over time as marriage, relationships, and gender. And even if I focus on my own cis male perspective, data from a 2002 study published in the European Journal of Urology shows that women don’t care about penis size as much as men think they do. Only 20 percent of women surveyed said penis size was important, while only 1 percent said it was very important.
And just in case my wife was in that 1 percent, I decided to ask:
He: “Hey I’ve got a question for ya.”
She: “I’m working.”
He: “Not a good time?”
He: “Okay, Well, I’m going to the store.”
She: “That’s great. Just no eggplant. Please. We’ve got so much already. What should we do with it all?”
Published on September 14, 2022
Words by Jonathan Ng Sposato
Jonathan Sposato is the founder and acting editor-in-chief of JoySauce. He is also the Chairman and Co-founder of independent tech newsite GeekWire.com, and founder of photosite PicMonkey.com. When he is not planting eggplants in his garden, he can usually be found explaining to friends just how a London-born, half-Chinese, half-Korean guy ended up with an Italian last name, while going to a British school in Hong Kong run by Spanish nuns.
Photography by Michelle Watt
Michelle Watt is a fashion and portrait photographer with a surreal narrative style. She is based in both Brooklyn and San Francisco with her Rhodesian boxer Fiona, and likes to travel to climb boulders.