One of the great hypocrisies of our age is that while men who talk about women’s breasts, or ogle them from near or afar, are criticised for being sexist, women do not suffer the same treatment when it comes to talking about penises (or should that be penii? Anyway, that’s another linguistic discussion altogether).
I have never made any secret of my fascination for the male organ, whether I have been writing about it in print, admiring it close up, or even groping it when my hands should have been better employed elsewhere. Despite growing up in a sexually repressed country, the reticence that should have been inbred somehow passed me by. I suspect I am a gay man trapped in a woman’s body.
I think about penises a lot. And I mean a lot. I suspect I think about some of my male friends’ penises more than they do, which, for someone who has never had one, nor is ever likely to, is probably a bit strange.
If I go to a concert, poetry reading or lecture, I am listening to the music or words, but all the time I am wondering what lurks behind the flies of the men on stage. Is it circumcised or uncircumcised? How active is it? Is it large or small, thin or thick? Is it any good? Does its owner like what it sees in the mirror? Where has it been? Where might it be going? Does it fear death?
I’m not sure if this is penis envy or penis admiration, but I wish I had a penis just to know what it felt like. Actually, I have double penis envy, because, in reality, I would like two: a circumcised one and an uncircumcised one. Is that being greedy?
This week, at Michael Sheen’s brilliant recording of Under Milk Wood in New York, one of many events to celebrate the centenary of the poet’s birth, Jon Hamm, who plays Don Draper in Mad Men, was in the audience. Everyone who recognised him underneath his cap and glasses was desperately excited; he is a fine actor. But much of the whispering was about one thing: “Do you think it’s true?”
Because, you see, a piece published online in May this year, headlined “Jon Hamm’s Wang” revealed that the actor likes to go commando (without underpants, for the innocent out there). It was accompanied by a picture of said wang, albeit behind a zipper, that appeared to reveal that Mr Hamm was a gentleman of considerable substance. And I mean considerable. It became the talk of Los Angeles, where, it is now believed, he holds the curious accolade of being the grand owner of the biggest wang in Hollywood.
Now, I confess to not having worn any underwear for over 20 years, but nothing in my external attire would ever give an indication of what mysteries or horrors lie beneath my clothing. Not so, with Mr Hamm, whose nether regions are a veritable sweet shop of delights to which the door is always ajar.
I can’t decide whether this knowledge has improved or lessened the impact of Mad Men. On the one hand, when the show’s story gets a bit slow, I can always think “Yes, but it has Jon Hamm’s wang in it” and distract myself, or I can . . . No, I lie; I really can’t and don’t think of anything else now.
I think the real reason I would like a penis is because it is so much easier a tool to navigate than the Google Earth that is the female anatomy. I mean, you could probably multi-task with a penis in the morning, cleaning your teeth at the same time as you are doing whatever you are doing with it (What would I know? I don’t have one. Did I mention that?).
As a woman, you have to schedule appointments with yourself, because you never know what mood your bits and pieces are going to be in. A penis, by comparison, is pretty much always up for it, and that’s another reason I would like one.
Because, at the end of the day, I have a penis mind, but a woman’s body.
And that’s really, really not fair, God. It just isn’t.
I want a refund. Or, better, an exchange.