People are just people, bodies are basically the same. And yet, though we may think that technology has given us dominion over nature (except, after the recent Tohoku earthquake, these voices have gotten real quiet), it just turns around and bites us in the ass, all the more so when the issue is one where cultures interact and power relations are seen to interact.
And in the case I’m thinking of, nature makes men feel insecure, if not outright inadequate, worry if they are quite right – and play “who’s got the biggest” in literal and metaphorical ways.
Not enough that there’s quite too much talk about sex in China, including about the lack of frank talk thereabout (Jocelyn and I have been getting into these issues), there’s also that undercurrent of biology determining… whatever. And it is just too good a case of how we are biological beings and maybe more, organisms as well as thinkers. And misleading ourselves.
Why I’m finally writing about this has a peculiar reason, too: I have always laughed off those laowai discussions of just having to have condoms sent from abroad. Dick jokes, too childish…
The thing is, though, that I’ve had one too many of those situations where I go into a public restroom (in railway or bus stations where the truly common people come together), only to be checked out rather too intensely, with apparent interest in how I compare. – I have to admit, it does get one to wonder…
On the one hand, you can’t dispute the facts. You can dispute their veracity, check, question methodology or sources, but ultimately, there is reality.
Perception plays at least as much of a role to us, though, and it is in this area that we are easily misled (or even misleading ourselves). As a friend reported back, in one of those fascinating situations that sometimes just suddenly materialize, there was that (Chinese, male) acquaintance of hers who suddenly contacted her to chat about his watching an “AV” (adult video) and the sad feelings it evoked, because he (or maybe it was even “the Chinese”) were not quite as gifted by nature as “the foreigners.” – Yeah, get your sex education from porn…
Well, same in “the West,” though. Haven’t you heard that blacks are better-endowed (which may be true, if the sources of the above map are correct)? And fascinatingly, the attitude manages to be, at the same time, that “they” are somehow closer to nature, more animal-like, and therefore bigger (or maybe, the other way round) – and that many “more civilized” whites would like to be bigger themselves (just check your spam folder if you need proof).
The only good news is that it’s not a strictly superficial issue, it’s under the clothes/covers.
That there should be such a fascination, such concern – to the point that one of the reasons why Chinese women who have been with a foreigner are supposedly suspect not just for being “used goods,” but also for expecting/wanting/… a bigger shlong, being able to compare, and maybe making Chinese men feel inadequate in the process – should be a sign that maybe we worry about the wrong things, though.
I don’t think anyone’s absolutely immune to social comparison. It’s very much a part of our psychology, after all. But that anybody would ever seriously consider penis size a sign of national weakness – or even just personal problems, as long as it’s not totally outside the average – … well, let me just recommend reading Jocelyn’s post on Sex and Chinese Men for an inkling of whether that really plays a role (pretty much the first sentence of her answer should clarify that).
Meanwhile, I’ll be here, still wondering. No, not how I measure up, but about our common oddity as human beings. First, we say that our biology, our looks, are not so important (anymore) – and then we get hung up on issues such as penis size and broad shoulders (or broad belly), boobs and thin waist; wide eyes or almond-shaped ones, darker skin or lighter…
The Chinese situation has an interesting effect, too: Should you choose to avoid the usual knee-jerk reaction – though I’ll have to admit, I’m still undecided as to whether I’ll slap around the next guy who overdoes it or not… – you can actually start wondering if the Chinese are maybe not actually racist, but simply very (straight)forward in accepting that people will be different (and yes, disconcertingly quick in judging those different qualities, even if they are superficial ones, as having different quality, different value).
Different people, different culture – same bodies, same concerns.