National Institute of Health studies how penis size affects a gay man’s behavior, mental health
July 18, 2011 | 2:15 pm
(Updated: July 18, 2011 | 2:29 pm)
According to a National Institutes of Health study, gay men with big dicks tend to be “tops,” small ones tend to be “bottoms,” and those who fall between are more likely to be “versatile.”
Of course, these are associations that the study found indicate whether someone is more likely to be a pitcher or catcher, and certainly don’t apply to every single person.
Fox News questions the study’s value, but we think it’s interesting nonetheless.
The study was among several backed by the National Institutes of Health that have come under scrutiny from a group claiming the agency is wasting valuable tax dollars at a time when the country is trying to control its debt. This particular research resulted in a 2009 report titled, “The Association Between Penis Size and Sexual Health Among Men Who Have Sex with Men.”
The study reported, among its findings, that gay men with “below average penises” were more likely to assume a “bottom” sexual position, while those with “above average penises” were more likely to assume a “top” sexual position. Those with average penises identified themselves as “versatile” in the bedroom.
This research comes a few years after another study that found gay men with larger penises are more confident – a feeling that heterosexual men share.
Is there value in this kind of research? Perhaps – while all unprotected sex carries risk for HIV, “bottoms” may face a slightly higher risk of contracting the virus from an infected partner. It’s also worthwhile to wonder if body image insecurities may lead to riskier behavior. That could be useful information when it comes to the messaging and approach used by organizations that work on HIV prevention education and testing.
Incidentally, this study did not find that penis size relates to HIV status – the risks were roughly equal among all *ahem* sizes. But men who have sex with men who are more well-endowed do face a higher risk of other sexually-transmitted infections like HPV; the study’s authors speculated that condom slippage or breakage resulted in the higher incidence of these infections.
It’s interesting that ideas of confidence, masculinity, and male potency – epitomized by penis size – seem to push individuals towards certain sexual behavior; that’s something sociologists and feminists may be more interested in than health experts. The fact that gay men may be encouraged to adopt “top” or “bottom” roles based on social expectations based on the size of their genitals (rather than some innate drive or disposition) tells us something about our culture.
Is that a problem? What do you think? Also, is it a good use of tax dollars to study this type of thing?