Catherine Townsend: Sleeping Around

The long and the short of it

Tuesday 15 November 2005 01:00 GMT

I was having a drink with John and Victoria at the Hempel Hotel in west London. When the Mötley Crüe rocker Tommy Lee swaggered in, the discussion inevitably turned to the infamous sex video with Pamela Anderson, then his wife, starring Lee and his massive member.

"But size doesn't matter anyway," John blurted out. "If it's too big it's a turnoff for women and hurts, right Cat?" Victoria and I smiled. As the vagina is an elastic organ that can stretch - or shrink - to accommodate, unless a man is literally hung like a horse, this is probably not an issue any man need worry about.

Yet when a guy asks if he's big enough, we have to say yes, even though most of us have found ourselves at some point begging "put it in" in the heat of passion, only be told that it's already there. I went on a date with a cute, 6ft 3in guy named Tom, who had huge hands and an engaging personality. We made out on the third date, but then I unearthed a member the size of a pickled gherkin. Call me shallow, but I told him I was suddenly tired. "It's because I'm small, isn't it?" he asked. I felt terrible that I said: "No, it looks fine!" in the chirpy tone I'd use about a girlfriend's horrible new haircut.

Sixty-five years ago, Alfred Kinsey decreed that phallic lengths between five and seven inches were within the continuum of "average". The measurements have defined men's lives since.

But, while men today can pump up their pecs, sculpt their abs, get hair transplants and pop Viagra, there's very little they can do about the size of their genitals. Obviously, it's still a male obsession - or the guys wouldn't be sending "Erectus Maximus 001" to my Hotmail account.

Then there are the scary plastic surgery sites, and guys spread across various online forums and chatrooms with names like Big Al's, who stretch their members over pieces of plastic pipe, or dangle weights from them. In the States, they call it Penile Inadequacy Anxiety Syndrome.

It may sound horrible, but most women have their own mental minimum thresholds. Then again, so do men - like my friend Michael, who split with a flame because it "just wasn't a good fit" in bed. "Sweet girl, very pretty," he says, "but her nether regions felt like the Mersey tunnel."

This is not to say that porn-star proportions are a guarantee of being great in bed. I'll never forget one photographer who was huge, but just unzipped his trousers and smiled, leading to the most anticlimactic night of my life. I also believe that emotional connection, oral skills and imagination can go a long way toward compensating.

But most women discreetly admit that, all things being equal, bigger is definitely better. So when Tom wanted another date, I let him down gently. A massive member may not be essential for me, but a tiny one is, alas, a deal breaker.

Then again, since men have no qualms about stating their preferences for completely aesthetic characteristics such as big breasts or a slim figure, I don't suppose that women should feel guilty about admitting to their own needs. Some of my girlfriends won't date anybody under 6ft tall, so why should I feel guilty about hoping for more than six inches?

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