An anthropology professor at the University of Rhode Island has written an article for New York Magazine on an important, thought-provoking question: Why won’t academics write more about vagina sizes?
“It’s no secret: We are obsessed with penis and testicle size,” writes Holly Dunsworth. “It’s an obsession that extends from the ivory towers of academia on down.” And it’s an obsession Dunsworth wishes would go away.
Dunsworth has a point: Both the media and academia write an awful lot about penis size and the evolutionary reasons for it. In comparison, she complains, there’s a dearth of writing by either academics or journalists about humanity’s other sex organ.
And Dunsworth finds this all terribly sexist, a sign that science is focused on men when it really should be focused on women instead.
Doesn’t it make sense that for a penis to be useful it has to be somewhat correlated to vagina size? Wouldn’t you explain the size and shape of the key by the size and shape of the lock? So wouldn’t it be a little more scientifically sound to hypothesize that the human penis is sized and shaped like that because it fits well into the human vagina? In short, isn’t it a bit obvious that the privates that fit inside the other privates are probably correlated? Yet even as penis theories fly around, a dime a dozen, we can barely say the word vagina. We seem to only be concerned with the evolutionary trajectory of dicks.
Dunsworth, of course, has a theory about why both journalists and academics are taking a penis-centric route: It allows them to focus on steamy sex instead of icky, nasty childbirth.
It may be that when it comes to the mystery of how the vagina got to be the size and the shape it is, the answer lies less in all the sweaty speculation and research about women’s orgasms, on their pornographic thoughts and lustful eyes, or men feverishly scooping one another’s sperm out of the mates they’re competing for, and more in women’s decidedly unsexy ‘birth canal,'” she proposes. “But hey, it’s understandable we don’t hear about this as much — we all know that the icky mechanics of birth are a lot less fun to talk about (and frankly get fewer clicks) than the mechanics of sex.”
The article is adapted from a recent blog post by Dunsworth, which goes into more (and more lurid) detail. In that article, Dunsworth admits there may be one shortfall for her theory: While human penises are known to be relatively large compared to other primates, it’s not clear that human vaginas are particularly comparatively large, and therefore require more research.
That blog post also features commenters who propose alternative reasons for the media’s obsession with penises.
“The conversation is penis-focused because they are the ones at the unfortunate end of the supply/demand spectrum,” suggests one commenter. “Any vagina seeking a penis finds one, the penis undergoes a more rigorous selection process.”
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