Readers get intimate about penis enlargement and baby lust.

Published April 14, 2005 3:47PM (EDT)

[Read "Size Matters," by Peter Rubin.]

The same day that Salon published Peter Rubin's article on big penis enthusiasts, Slate did an article on breast enlargement. Tabloid minds think alike, I guess. Or maybe it's the combination of spring's arrival, along with the threat of an economic recession -- the mix of sweetness and anxiety.

Rubin's article had my interest as a man on several levels, but I wish he'd interviewed at least a few women. Camille Paglia would have been interesting, for one, as she's followed the phallus obsession -- big and small -- through history. Regardless, it was fascinating to read. Rubin ought to consider writing a book on the subject. He'd have readers.

From my experience many of us men at some point face some confusion and fantasy about our cocks. I've sometimes found myself in bed with a woman thinking that if I could add more size, it would intensify the joy of being inside a woman. With one partner, I remember feeling a bit awed by her openness and wished I were bigger. With another partner, I had to be extra gentle, which made making love awkward, preventing the wonderful abandon of great sex. For many, our penises are an awfully confusing part of ourselves -- something we may joke about, but rarely talk about openly. Not that I think many of us would run out to join a local men's group for such discussion. But most articles on this subject are smarmy laugh-at-the-loser pieces in laddie zines or women's publications that tease men about their concerns. While you will probably get similarly snarky or upset letters, I thought it brave of Salon to publish Rubin's article.

-- Jonathan Field

Sometimes I think I am the only man on the planet who is perfectly satisfied with the size of his penis. Even if I had the ability to magically change anything about it, I wouldn't change it one bit.

-- Nathan Gaspe

I have to say I'm a bit surprised that the article on penis enlargement didn't talk more about the dangers and negative effects.

Not only is there the (I believe, high) chance of doing real damage, but the inability to get and sustain an erection isn't directly commented upon either.

I fear for anyone who reads the article and goes down a road that may cause a great deal of discomfort.

-- John

I'm sure that I will not be the first person to point out that you could easily replace penis with breast. The breast, too, is "a beautifully designed anatomical marvel that has evolved through millions of years," according to Dr. Sharlip. "I don't understand why [wo]men feel the need to raise the bar in the first place. Of those who come to him for advice, he says, "the very great majority -- 99 percent -- have normal [breasts] size. It's a psychological problem more than a physical one." Yet women do want to change their breast size. They want fuller, rounder and just plain bigger breasts. And they are willing, with vaguely appalling regularity, to undergo major surgery with all the risks that entails to get them.

That men feel the same way about their penises should be of no surprise to anyone. The penis may not be as visible as the breast, but it is certainly a central part of a man's anatomy. The sad fact is, size does matter. I never thought I would write that the medical community should pay more attention to the needs of men. But, what I found to be most disturbing in the article was the attitude of the urologists at Boston University's Institute for Sexual Medicine who refused even to comment on P.E. I'm not saying that P.E. is or is not a valid alternative for men who want to increase their penis size. But the medical community should respect their patients enough to at least acknowledge men's desire for larger penises.

-- Wahrena Pfeister

What vain, arrogant beasts. It's a damn shame.

-- Matt C.

I'll know next time to skip the feature article while eating lunch. There's nothing like the image of a handful of vaseline and a Ron Jeremy wannabe boinking his girlfriend in the bathroom to make a ham-on-rye go down better. Does this mean I'm going to have to endure daily ads featuring Pamela Anderson from here on out as well?

-- Ben Bitner

[Read "Baby Lust," by Ayelet Waldman.]

I know what Ms. Waldman means about counting your blessings, but wanting more. I married at 40. Though I'd been told I probably wouldn't be able to have kids (and many of my friends are still fighting infertility), I easily conceived and had my first at 42 and my second at 43. Unlike Waldman, I didn't feel as if I were the object of pity from younger mothers, and I love my wrinkles. Older moms can hopefully make up in maturity for what we lack in energy.

Our kids are wonderful, and my husband and I feel very lucky. And yet, I long, pine, ache for No. 3 -- almost as if No. 3 is a real entity that, but for our reluctance to perform the necessary alchemy, would be running around playing in the world. (All this, despite telling my husband during each pregnancy to shoot me if I ever suggest doing it again.)

But we won't have another for three reasons: worsening odds in genetic roulette; the need to focus our limited financial resources on the two we have; and a pledge that I won't be wheeled into my youngest's high school graduation. But I will go to my grave wishing I could have known her.

-- H. Rubin

This column represents a new low in your otherwise interesting columnists' take on modern motherhood. Ms. Waldman sounds like a spoiled, upper-middle-class mommy with way too much time, and dare I say it, extravagant resources on her hands, which certainly doesn't endear this regular Salon reader to her predicament. I couldn't help but cringe thinking about all those hard-pressed ordinary moms out there, barely making ends meet -- fully employed and severely underpaid -- juggling their kids and husbands, credit card debt, underfunded college accounts, hefty healthcare premiums, rising gas prices, etc. -- problems no amount of cute baby smells are ever going to cure. I bet these moms wouldn't mind borrowing Ms. Waldman's nanny for a couple of months while they pursue a little bit of hard-earned personal bliss.

Perhaps the author should channel her lust (which sounded a lot like some of my feelings about a new pair of really nice shoes) into sponsoring or mentoring a child that is growing up poor, with too little resources, attention and the affection that Ms. Waldman seems to have oodles of to spare. At least then her unfulfilled passion for more children might benefit another mom's struggle with too many.

-- Lisa Mohan

Ms. Waldman is a wonderful mother with great mothering skills. She has four children whom she adores and is mildly but not too seriously considering having a fifth child for she thinks four is the right number, but -- she loves babies.

I wonder if she has thought of adopting? There are so many children in need of a good home and good parents.

I am a 57-year-old woman, and an only child who was raised by an abusive mother. I have worked as a volunteer in population education and am now myself a mother of two and a grandmother of an adorable 3-month-old.

I value good mothering. It is precious. I love babies. I also understand that there are many children in need of good homes, and adopting is a very personal choice.

But I know too that some places also welcome volunteers to hold and walk babies -- all different ways to enjoy babies, without birthing them or adopting them.

-- Joy Livingstone

I too started my family at 29 and I often thought of having "just one more" after the third. I realized, though, that there was no way I could emotionally, physically or mentally (not to mention financially) handle any more children.

Forgetting to be the tooth fairy was the least of the problems we have worked our way through (though my kids seemed to take it in stride -- after forgetting to deliver the goods as the tooth fairy for four weeks, my middle daughter handed me the tooth, I handed her some money and the deal was done). Now at 11, 13 and 15 I enjoy them all and life is much easier.

I'll wait to inhale the sweet smell of a newborn until the grandchildren begin arriving!

-- Mary Heidbrink

I read Ayelet Waldman's piece about longing for a fifth child with dismay, and relief when she ended by saying "no more children."

It sounds as if Ms. Waldman and her husband are excellent parents, and their children are much loved and well taken care of. Good for them! But I'm one of those people who looks at the world today and says, what are people thinking, having babies now?

I feel such dismay because there are too many of us here already and we're sucking our planet dry. Several recent analyses tell us we're beyond the carrying capacity of this planet, and millions of people already die every year as a result of the environmental degradation that translates to lack of food, water and sanitation.

I worry for every baby born today, because it's very likely the next 50-100 years will bring climate change with increasingly severe global weather devastation, water shortages, and more global conflict as resources of all kinds become scarcer in our ever-more-crowded world.

I fear the lives these children will have to live. No matter how terrific you are as a parent, no matter how much you long for starfish fingers and silky hair under your lips -- think carefully: what kind of struggle will life be for that sweet little being? Does the world really need for you to have another baby?

-- Christine Holland

By Salon Staff

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