~ In case you haven’t noticed, we’re living in a phallocentric society that inordinately privileges, prioritizes and values the penis — specifically penises of a certain size. This, unsurprisingly, has created a culture of body-shaming that tends to leave many penis-havers feeling insecure about how their own phallic appendages measure up to the unrealistic size standards widely upheld as the penile ideal.
In everyday life, penis-shaming is a toxic, gross practice that remains all too common and normalized. But for some penis-havers, being humiliated for having a small penis is actually a kinky and pleasurable source of sexual satisfaction.
“Small penis humiliation is a consensual roleplay in which one person (usually playing the role of dominant or sadist) verbally humiliates another person (usually playing the role of submissive or masochist) with the subject matter of the humiliation being small penis size,” says Dr. Dulcinea Pitagora, an NYC-based psychotherapist and sex therapist.
While this form of erotic humiliation is “mostly centered around verbal exchanges,” adds Miss Couple, an intimacy and relationship coach, “small penis humiliation can also include sexual and/or masochistic acts, such as physically torturing someone for their small penis size.”
You don’t even need to actually have a small penis to engage with small penis humiliation (SPH). “Not everyone who enjoys being on the receiving end of this type of verbal humiliation actually has a small penis, it just means that the language around and idea of being ridiculed for having a small penis is sexually arousing,” says Dr. Pitagora.
“People of all penis sizes can be interested in SPH,” echoes Miss Couple. “The kink stems more from the stripping of power associated with masculinity — the penis is just a symbol of that.”
That said, SPH can certainly be enjoyed by those who do consider themselves to be on the smaller side, and it seems some small-penis-havers struggling with size insecurity might even turn to this kind of erotic play as a coping mechanism. That’s what one advice-seeker who recently wrote into Slate’s “How to Do It” advice column seemed to suggest, anyway.
The self-described 40-something married man with a small penis — “Not on the line, ‘maybe,’ just small” — wrote that he has struggled with insecurity about his penis size for most of his life, but has finally found “the answer” to his problems in the form of SPH play, something he’d learned about from his psychiatrist. “She did not directly point me in the direction of ‘small penis humiliation,’ but said it helped other people embracing the issue,” the advice-seeker wrote. “After exploring it, I found I am very fond of it,” he added, despite “normally loath[ing] attention and humiliation.”
Dr. Pitagora confirms that a mental health professional probably wouldn’t directly recommend that a client try small penis humiliation, but agrees that for clients already interested in kink, this kind of play may be worth exploring.
“If a client told me that they struggled with size insecurity, and had been fantasizing about SPH, then I would talk it through with them, support their exploring it with a trusted partner or prodomme, have more conversations after the experience to talk through any positive or negative reactions, and process the experience as needed,” says Dr. Pitagora. However, they add, “I would not recommend that people who are not kinky or BDSM-oriented engage in a role-play like this. If someone who is not kinky and/or not into verbal humiliation around penis size were to engage in this roleplay, it could backfire and end up being traumatizing.”
However, for those who are kink-oriented, says Miss Couple, erotic humiliation can be “a powerful psychological tool,” which may indeed help individuals struggling with size insecurity explore and process those feelings of shame in a safe, consensual environment.
“Humiliation scenes can involve something called a ‘corrective emotional experience,’ where the person experiences something that was previously painful or traumatic in their life (such as being teased for their small penis size), and through consensual interaction with a partner recreates the scenario,” explains Miss Couple. “This time, instead of being the victim, through consensual power exchange and negotiation, they will be ‘in charge’ of what happens to them, and choose the outcome of the experience.”
For example, a submissive partner in a SPH scene may be told their penis is “useless” and be instructed to perform oral sex instead. “The humiliation is involved, but the scenario still circles around to closeness and intimacy with their partner in a way that might have positive associations and be satisfying for them,” Miss Couple explains.
But what separates small penis humiliation from plain old body-shaming?
“The tricky thing is that because SPH is emotional masochism, the key ingredient you’re playing with is shame — that’s what makes it exciting,” says Miss Couple. “What separates SPH from harmful body shaming is consent.”
When you’re playing with kink, especially potentially “treacherous territory” like humiliation play, consent requires much more than a simple verbal agreement between partners.
“It is not enough to simply get permission from your partner to engage in SPH. In order to engage safely, you need to discuss exactly what terms and phrases are acceptable and which are off limits,” says Miss Couple. “One word might make someone wildly turned on, while another might cause painful psychological damage.”
In order to establish a safe, fully consensual environment in which to explore SPH play, Miss Couple encourages partners to completely negotiate a scene beforehand, and recommends being clear about what each partner is seeking from the experience. “Someone looking for a corrective emotional experience will have to be treated differently than someone who is looking for pure degradation.”
Like all forms of BDSM, humiliation play can provide a psychologically intense experience, which, practiced safely and correctly, can be emotionally and mentally rewarding for all parties involved. For someone struggling with insecurity surrounding penis size, engaging in SPH can potentially be a powerful coping mechanism, though both Dr. Pitagora and Miss Couple warn against jumping into a new kink as a “cure” for your physical insecurities — especially if you lack experience.
“That is not to say that people shouldn’t explore this kink if they are feeling drawn to it — even if they aren’t sure or don’t have experience with it,” says Dr. Pitagora. However, “It’s important for anyone struggling with size insecurity to feel supported and validated first and foremost, to receive psychoeducation around phallocentrism, and to deconstruct stigma and body shame.”