Measure of my manhood

Every guy worries about the size of his unit. Imagine the added pressure of being black

By Mychal Denzel Smith

Published December 29, 2012 12:30AM (EST)

    (<a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-596689p1.html'>Brent Hofacker</a> via <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/'>Shutterstock</a>)
(Brent Hofacker via Shutterstock)

"Body Issues" is a personal essay series about obsessions with our own shape.

There’s no moment more anxiety-inducing in a young man’s life than the first time he measures his penis. OK, maybe that’s just me. I was terrified. First of all, I couldn’t find a ruler. I had aged out of the grade where rulers were put on the school supplies list, and any ones that were left over had been lost or broken. I considered measuring against the spine of a book, but my naked-eye measurement would still only get me a ballpark answer. I needed to know the exact measurement. I finally found a ruler, one I had kept from years before, which featured all the NBA Western Conference team logos on it. Why no, this wasn’t embarrassing.

I also had the added pressure that comes with being black. That all black men have huge penises is the one stereotype we don’t riot in the streets over. I couldn’t be responsible for bringing shame to the race by walking around with a sub-nine-inch penis. What would my ancestors think? I could only hope that Marcus Garvey wasn’t looking down from the heavens shaking his head in disgust at my lack of girth.

So I willed it to get bigger. Well, first I got it hard, then I tried to Jedi mind trick it past the point of its actual size to a respectable one. I slipped the ruler down a bit, convincing myself I wasn’t starting at the right spot, that I needed to be measuring from the very base of my penis. That bought me another eighth of an inch or so. Eventually, I’d done all I could do. I’d given it a pep talk. It was time to see what I had. Nothing and no one ever prepares yo...

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Mychal Denzel Smith

Mychal Denzel Smith is a contributing writer to Salon, and social commentator. He is a Knobler Fellow at The Nation Institute and blogs at TheNation.com. Follow him on Twitter @mychalsmith.

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