There are contented penises that have led full lives, and disappointed penises that have let down their owners — or been let down by their owners. There is the trans man who invested in the biggest and best; the underpowered poet hung up on his for years, until he decided to celebrate it with The Big Small Penis Party; the man who as a teenager thought he had genital warts and considered killing himself, until he found out they were normal spots; the business leader whose small penis taught him humility; the sex addict whose wife tried to cut it off; and the vicar who enjoyed his first threesome while training for the priesthood.
That was delicate, Dodsworth says, but not as delicate as this. Like many of us, she says, she is uneasy with her own body. And she has had a similar experience with Manhood.
One word for penis is manhood, so it seemed a perfect starting point to talk about being a man. Dodsworth has now photographed men. In each photo, you see penis and testicles, belly, hands and thighs. The humanity lies in the relationship between these body parts. Does Dodsworth remember her subjects by their penis or by their face?
Once somebody has bared their body, they are much more likely to bare their soul. You get a much better interview after the picture. A few she had to actively search for: the vicar, former cancer patients, a man with a micro-penis. Did the project make her think differently about men? It was really lovely. What surprised her most? What really moved me is how much that shame and inadequacy had bled into different parts of their life.
Dodsworth was amazed by how many found themselves talking about their fathers, in particular absent fathers, bad fathers, aggressive fathers. Was she surprised by the variety? Lots of men manscape, or completely erase their pubic hair, now. I had no idea that happens. For Dodsworth, Manhood has not been an aesthetic revelation: some penises are nice to look at, some less so. But having seen the number of men who struggle with their manhood, literally and metaphorically, she has become a champion of the penis.
Half the people in the world have got penises. My penis, Rufus, is kind of a barometer of my health, my happiness and my fitness. Other people? This is not really about me, this is about a persona of black men, you know: penis size, greater sexuality, up for it. This is a fetish that makes no sense. Women and men both enjoy sex, are curious about sex, and boast about sex in different ways; but men are more afraid and less understanding of its emotional nature.
Sex needs to be put back on its pedestal. I lost my virginity to the wife of my grammar school teacher. He was sent to France as a spy and resistance fighter. They made an arrangement that while he was away, if they were sexually interested in someone else, they could have a relationship. I was 18 and went to stay with her when I had my leave. I knew them both and was fond of them. I was in a single bedroom. In the morning, the door opens and in comes this woman, in her robe.
She took it off and kneeled beside the bed. And there was this year-old naive boy. It was an act of kindness. I immediately fell in love with her, of course. It was incredible. On the other hand, I was in the army. I stayed all night. When I woke up and looked at her, I thought she was lovely. I no longer have an attitude towards masculinity. It affects the way you think as well as your memory. Until 87, I had normal feelings about sex and attraction, but these completely disappeared with my dementia.
If I look at a pornographic image, I have no sexual feeling. I have been married twice and had a number of affairs that mattered to me a great deal. Life has changed for women and men during my lifetime; there is a more liberal partnership.
I would claim I am a male feminist. There are other forms of oppression, like class oppression. I believe very much in that. Actually, I quit masturbation entirely for a long time.
I used to have issues ejaculating with my ex. Ejaculating became associated with my hand and watching porn. I had issues with being on top, too. My new girlfriend did some research on it. My girlfriend and I are having sex perfectly fine now. We met doing parkour, and we were friends for a while.
A few years ago, she wrote up a sex contract as part of an art project, but she never got the chance to use it. One night she asked if I wanted to sign her sex contract with her.
I said no at first. Then she sent over the contract. It was called Three Mergers: you have sex three times, and then decide where you want to go from there.
You can sign another contract, or you can just leave it. So you sign the contract and then you do the deed. When we got to the bedroom I told her I had issues with staying hard. Porn is an addiction, in the end. I used to use porn every day. Quitting was like a reset. After several weeks, I could orgasm during sex again.
It had to be quite rough, fast sex to start with, but at that point I could. And then it kind of slowed down and got really good. I would like to be able to orgasm from more gentle sex.
The problem is when people start young, on their phone: if you get brought up with things, they stick with you. I believe how I feel about my penis shaped my life, particularly up to my mids. I worried about it being too small to function. I went to an all-male school and then an all-male college.
That still happens sometimes. It is more of an inner wound, and has served me by giving me humility. I looked at penile enlargement in magazines and thought it was a waste of time. I knew that the journey for me was accepting how my body is. Size has never been a factor with partners. Close female friends have told me large penises have been intimidating or painful.
I made my closest friends at college, but much about the environment was horrendous. The attitudes to women were terrible: they were seen as sexual objects to be preyed on.
There was a regular night of absolute debauchery, with everyone getting drunk, hardcore pornography, and throwing things out of windows. I think they must have sensed my terror and stopped. That fear was with me all the time. I was lying in bed, masturbating, as you do, when I felt a lump on my left testicle, the size of a pea. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone.
I ignored it for nine months until it was the size of two fingers put together. I bit the bullet and told my mum. It turned out it was cancer, but it was in the early stages. In the end I had three weeks of radiotherapy as well as having the testicle removed. I felt lonely afterwards. One of the first things I did after the operation was get a porn magazine out and masturbate.