So, you’re a pair of young reporters for a student newspaper and you’ve been sent to cover the visit of Hollywood star Robert Downey Jnr to one of the UK’s most-prestigious universities.
You get to put one question to the film star. What do you ask? Well, you ask him how big his penis is of course.
“Each paper was allowed just one question. Downey seemed bored by questions about his upcoming film and what it’s like to be a film star,” reported the TAB newspaper.
“So we asked him how big his penis was.”
The paper ran his reply as their headline: “They don’t call me throbbing knob for nothing – Robert Downey Jr on his penis size.”
Well, what else could he say?
Which is precisely the point – underpinning this socially-acceptable form of sexism is the unstated rule that men aren’t allowed to complain or admit any insecurity when mocked or objectified about their genitals, if they did, then there must be something to be insecure about, right?
The only option left is to laugh along with the joke, perhaps adding a bit of bombast for good measure, because, you know, I’VE got nothing to worry about. Which of course just perpetuates the taboo.
Because as we all know, there’s nothing quite as pathetic as a man with a small penis and nothing quite as hilarious as laughing at him for it.
It would be nice to be able to dismiss the story as just the work of a couple of puerile student journalists. But it’s actually quite common for reporters to ask a few sniggering questions about actors’ penises.
‘The size of the Fassbender’
Here’s grown-up journalist, Camilla Long’s interview with Michael Fassbender in the respected, broadsheet, Sunday Times magazine.
“Three friends asked me if they could come and ‘hold the Dictaphone’; others requested a detailed report on ‘the size of the Fassbender’.
“He is totally nude for the first five minutes of the film, wanging out of the bedroom, into the kitchen and back to the bathroom, where he takes a long, rump-flexing slash, all pecs, taut torso, and a huge…
“And I couldn’t help but notice he has an enormous penis, too. Would he have done the film if he was less well-endowed?
‘Alfie is a grower not a show-er’
“Ahhhh.” His eyebrows shoot up. “That’s kind of you to say. I didn’t have any references to measure it against. I figured it was average.”
Average? Come on. “No! I’m serious. I don’t check out…” Other men at the gym?
“I don’t really go to the gym,” he shakes his head. “Obviously I figured I didn’t really have a small penis. Would I have done it if I didn’t have whatever-sized penis? I didn’t think about that.”
Try reversing the genders in that interview — and I don’t mean replacing the discussion of penis size for breast size.
Then there’s this extract from another female journalist’s article about Alfie Allen’s role in Equus, a stage play that requires full-frontal nudity from the lead actor.
“The producers and director are waxing lyrical about Alfie – he is incredibly talented.
‘Justice to his manhood’
“But rehearsals for one of the play’s climactic scenes, in which he appears naked alongside co-star Laura O’Toole, revealed a knotty problem – his pubic hair. Apparently, Alfie is a grower not a show-er and his unkempt bush needed to be cut back.
“It was out of control and not doing justice to his manhood.
“It was quite awkward and no one knew how to tell him and who should do it. But when Alfie was told, he took it like a man – and reached for the nail scissors. Now he can’t wait to get up on stage and show off his super buff and aerodynamic bod.”
In another newspaper report on the show, Allen and the actor who had preceded him in the role, Daniel Radcliffe, were depicted standing next to each other with first and second prize rosettes photo-shopped over their groins.
Next time a journalist asks an actor about his genitals, it would be nice to see him respond in the way any female actor would have the right to respond. Tell them to fuck off.
By Dan Bell
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