our clitoris is or if the head of the penis is supposed to be connected
underneath to the shaft or if one testicle is supposed to be lower than
the other. Besides ignorance, we are filled with misconceptions: one
shouldn't have sex during menstruation, that a large clitoris means
one is over-sexed, that men can have more climaxes than women, etc.
Why are we so uninformed? Taboos, even about physiology.
Our body image has been studied (Cash, Winstead & Janda, 1986)
yielding several interesting findings. Even though the exercise craze
may have helped some of us become fitter, we are, at the same time,
as a society becoming more dissatisfied with our appearance. About
35% of American men and women don't like their looks, so much so
that 45% of these unhappy women and 30% of these dissatisfied men
would consider cosmetic surgery. Only 50% of those who see
themselves as overweight liked how they looked. Young people are
getting more and more "out of shape." From 25% to 50% of the
people who feel negative about their appearance, fitness, health, or
sexuality also judge their psychological health to be poor (depression,
loneliness, feeling worthless). Surely, feeling unattractive, e.g. flabby,
would interfere with the free and full enjoyment of sex (women
reportedly more so than men).
If one is not attractive, the choice is to change it or accept it.
Some things can usually be changed: thinness, fatness, poor
complexion, make up, and hair. Many things can not be changed:
facial features, height, and many specific features, like narrow
shoulders, fat deposits, flat butt, bust and penis size, etc. Surgery can,
of course, change some of these parts but there may be serious
contraindications to surgery besides cost. For example, breasts can be
made smaller or larger but the surgery frequently results in a loss of
sensation in the breasts. That is a high price to pay.
One's body image remains long after the body has changed. The
most common example is an attractive young person 18 to 25-years-
old who thinks he/she is unattractive. Strikingly often such a person
reports that as a teenager he/she was skinny or fat or pimply. To
correct this, the person has to give up the idea that he/she is entirely
unattractive, and then an honest positive self-evaluation ("I have a
nice figure", "I have a strong-looking, masculine body") has to be
repeated over and over until it is believed. Reinforcement from others
Unfortunately, in our culture it is commonly believed that "bigger is
better" in regard to breasts and penises. Masters, Johnson, & Kolodny
(1985) say large breasts are no more sensitive than smaller breasts.
Indeed, some sexologists claim that small-breasted women respond
more to touch and enjoy it more. But, because some men are
brainwashed and conditioned, large breasts are considered by some as
especially desirable. Consequently, many women are dissatisfied with
their breasts, even though size has little or nothing to do with
experiencing sexual feelings or attractiveness over the years. While no
research addresses this issue, so far as I know, I'll bet that a sexually