The Penis Gallery 2024
The Penis Gallery 2024 was an event which broke taboos and created a space to talk about men's most personal anxieties.
The Penis Gallery returned this week in an event at London Metropolitan University. This was the third incarnation of the event, and the aim, as ever, was to present a wide range of penises in images sent in by our audience. We wanted to celebrated the sheer diversity of penises out there and show that there is not one gold standard of penis to aspire to, as porn might have you believe, but rather every penis, whatever size or shape, is valid and worthy of celebration. Yes, this is about learning to love your own body, which many people struggle with. Indeed, when it comes to genitalia, as our panel discussed, men don’t really have many spaces in which they can discuss their feelings and anxieties about their bits and pieces in an adult way. It’s a taboo.
One which we happily broke at this event.
On that panel was Anouszka Tate, producer and journalist and Book of Man columnist writing about all things around sex and relationships. Also Jamie McCartney, the figurative artist renowned for his body cast work, most notably The Great Wall of Vulva. Finally, we were joined by Chris Morriss-Roberts, from London Met, who’s research around penises and locker room culture is still a landmark piece of academia.
Chris told the audience, “Over the years, you’d think how we’ve progressed in society in so many different things, but talking about the penis still seems to be taboo. You can talk about it with jokes, in comedy, but there’s still a level of penis chat that you can’t have. Even in an academic environment it’s a challenged. But we wanted to make this chat happened, that we were talking about men’s bodies, their mental health, penis size, all of that. I did my research into all this 10 years ago, but I don’t think things have moved on that much. So the aim of this conference was to bring this discussion back to the table. Discussing erectile dysfunction, sex between men, HIV, circumcision. I feel like these topics are still not discussed enough.”
In a wide ranging discussion the panel discussed the whole scope of penis-related issues, from representations in porn and mainstream films, to health issues and the lack of knowledge around the basics, and how a gap in discussions around penis matters, in families and education and peers and relationships, means there often isn’t the space for men to get real.
Nailing this aspect, Anouszka said, “My job is to talk about things people don’t want to talk about. And the trouble with penises is we paint them as very sacred. When something is sacred it sits in this vacuum where you can’t question it. There’s a penis forcefield! And we can’t discuss or critique anything. You can’t as an individual explore the nuances of how that connects to your identity and that’s where the anxieties come up. The distance, the space between what you’re feeling inside about yourself and what you think are the expectations society – or your partner or whoever – has of you. It’s that chasm that’s creating the anxieties, but if we can’t talk about his stuff realistically, how are we ever going to bridge that gap. That’s the bit I’m really passionate about, giving men that language to kindly but matter-of-factly talk about their bodies and pleasure in a way that is more indicative of how they actually feel.”
Taking this up, Jamie told us about his first penis casting art piece: “I cast myself in that piece and actually it was the first time I’d seen a bunch of erections that weren’t in pornography and I found the whole thing very healing. I was like, ‘I’m normal’. I was in my 40s and I’d worried about my penis my whole life….and doing the casting, where I had to cast other men flaccid and erect, it was the first time I’d had erections in my face, so to speak. But it was a real education and I feel privileged to have had that opportunity to see all these different states and to me it was this healing thing. From that point I felt fine about things. But what I want to see is more variety in films and TV. Yeah we see more of them, but it’s never little ones. The actors prepared to do this are a self-selected group so you’re not really seeing what you see when you go to a beach in Germany. It’s still championing the size thing which is something that then continues to be destructive.”
Below are some photos from the event, and thank you to everyone who sent in their photos. Let’s continue to be penis pioneers and break the taboos:
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