Body shaming; a teenie-weenie-peenie paradox

Before I knew it, I was tweeting with one of the entrants of a ‘smallest penis’ pageant!

It was one of those moments which could only happen on social media. Twitter, to be precise; having shared a friend’s article about his efforts to lose weight (motivated by a desire to see his penis again, rather than just his tummy), the aforementioned chap, one Rip van Dinkle, pinged me a comment designed to elicit a response. It was late. I was tired. My filters were down. I responded.

I read the link he sent me – an article about a tiny penis pageant in Brooklyn – which had my facial expression changing from alarm to amusement to horror to…well, consideringness…as the piece progressed. It was clearly all very tongue-in-cheek, and the photos weren’t *too* explicit, BUT…the comments from journalists who covered the pageant ranged from mirthful encouragement of the ridiculous, to downright cruel.

It was the downright cruel, which got me thinking most.

Is it EVER okay to body shame - summat2thinkon.wordpress.com

As someone who was bullied a feminist a person with body image issues a human being, it bothers me a lot when I see people being cruel to others, based on their appearance (it bothers me more when I’m the person being cruel – it happens as little as I can mindfully manage it, but I screw up sometimes too). The ‘Walmartians’ pictures make my heart hurt. Sneak photos of strangers buttcracks make me wince. The idea that a woman (even a badly behaved one), could be reduced in social media to, and derided with the hashtag #trigglypuff, makes me wish I could disassociate entirely from the large number of people who think it’s okay to be unkind.

I’m not talking about trolls. Well, a bit, because they’re bad too, but I’m talking about ordinary, everyday people who you know and respect (or at least wouldn’t suspect), and in some cases adore, who nonetheless act in ways which seek to mock the physical appearance of other people.

It’s demeaning. It’s objectifying. It seeks to nullify all the humanity and history and story of a person and reduce them to a laughing stock. It’s disgusting.

Perhaps I’m a snob, or overly sensitive, but yes…when someone gets their kicks and giggles this way, I turn into a Judgysaurus Rex and feel utterly let down by whoever perpetrated the shaming. The thing which *really* upsets me is I’m SUCH a Judgysaurus Rex by this point, that I feel put out that other people aren’t also judging those who proliferate the unkindness. I get snarly when it’s just accepted as a part of life and no-one says anything.

Is it bystander syndrome? Is it tacit agreement? Is it wimping out?

It’s for sure *something*, and something I don’t like. It seems to fly in the face of compassion and humanity and connection (all things I passionately stand for) and allows unkindness and divisiveness to grow.

So when faced with the astonishing realisation that there exists a teenie-weenie-peenie pageant, what could I do? I didn’t want to laugh, because I don’t think a bloke with a small dick is particularly laughable (well, not for that alone – if he’s cartwheeling around in a feather boa whilst playing an aria from La Boheme on a kazoo, he’s probably going to elicit a giggle). I didn’t want to comment on the article, for fear of being subject to retaliation from the people who did think it was laughable. I also didn’t want to ignore it and just let it be an acceptable part of life where I didn’t say anything.

I also didn’t know *quite* what I wanted to say, because I could see paradoxes galore; in terms of body-shaming, gender equality, rebalancing gender inequality, misogyny, and misandry, and purely from a humorous point of view.

In the end I went to the source of my consternation, and asked what he thought. Turned out Rip van Dinkle, or should I say, John Haakenson, is a thoughtful, considered, articulate gentleman, and I really appreciated his responses, so here they are:

What encouraged you to first enter the tiny penis competition?
I read a story about the upcoming pageant in The Huffington Post, and I thought it was hilarious. I rarely laugh out loud, but this story made me laugh out loud. Then, I moved on, but my thoughts kept returning to this ridiculous pageant, and it kept making me smile. I thought:  “I’ve never been to Brooklyn and I have some time off. I have a small penis (about 1.75 inches flaccid). Maybe I should enter.” I got encouragement from my friend Misty, so I bought a ticket to Brooklyn.

What have been the best and worst reactions?
In general, the best reactions have been from women, and the worst from men, although there are exceptions. A lot of women see it as an anti-body-shaming event; others see it, I’m afraid, as a kind of payback for the “male gaze” standard so prevalent in society, as an opportunity to judge men strictly by body parts. Men – straight men, I mean – seem to feel threatened by the whole idea of the pageant. If we contestants in the pageant are ridiculed for our little manhoods, then by extension (no pun intended) they feel threatened, as well.

The post-pageant comments in chat rooms are all over the map. People can be anonymous in chat rooms, so of course the nasty comments tend to rule: “baby dick,” “puny pecker,” “baby balls,” etc. The insults come from both men and women.

Does the audience mainly comprise men or women? (I ask because the article you tweeted only featured female writers’ opinions)
I’d say the audience was about 75-80 percent female. Of the men, I have no idea how many might have been gay, although I’m sure a good percentage were. The pageant was created, organized, and presented by women (primarily Aimee Arciuolo and Bobbie Chaset), and they said that their female friends loved it. Their male friends, not so much.

What’s your take on the difference between the public reaction to this competition, and the public’s hypothetical reaction to (for instance) a tiny tits competition for women entrants?
Aimee said in an interview that they actually considered doing something like a “tiny tits” competition, but decided that it might not attract much of an audience. That’s something people can already see at a lot of topless bars, whereas a group of men actually showing the world their tiny cocks and balls – that’s unusual.

What impact would you like the competition to have? Is it just a laugh, or is there deeper meaning for you?
Maybe I’m just old and cynical, but I don’t expect the pageant to “change the world.” For me … I would be lying if I said I didn’t love the attention, even if it was for a bizarre reason. But it also made a lot of people, mostly women, quite happy. It gave them a socially sanctioned opportunity to turn the tables on men, treat us as the sex objects, and to show that they are not intimidated by the almighty male sex organs. Instead, they can have a laugh. And take pictures to share with friends (alas, I will never be able to run for public office.)

Do you plan to continue to enter?
I will if they have more pageants (I’ve been in two of the three so far; I missed the 2014 pageant because my flight was cancelled.) It was a major blast both times I was in it. The only downside is if my young nieces happen to see pictures of me in the pageant on the Internet, because there seem to be hundreds of them. But that’s why I have the beard and wear sunglasses.

What struck me, as I thought more, was that the entrants must be *really* body secure to do something as madcap as this. Also, it’s perhaps not as awful as I first thought, because the entrants all know what they’re in for, and there’s a level of acceptance and encouragement about the ridiculing being par for the course. I also rather admire the bravery of these guys for breaking the taboo around a physical attribute traditionally considered Very Important to Manliness, and celebrating their lack of length.

So I’m left in a muddle, between thinking the pageant is something I wouldn’t want to touch with a ten-foot barge-pole, given the can of worms it opens and scatters, and thinking that actually, those worms being given some sunlight, attention and clarity in terms of their wider implications, might not be such a bad thing.

Is it divisive? Does it promote unkindness and ridicule? Does it offer a chance for a tongue-in-cheek, doesn’t-matter-too-much bit of a giggle? Is it a symptom of the times, an indictment, or a redemption of them?

Does it matter?

What do you think? I want to know your perspective.

 

original

Many thanks to John, for answering my questions and supplying me with photos for this piece.

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76 thoughts on “Body shaming; a teenie-weenie-peenie paradox

  1. So cool that you did that. If I were ‘judging’ I probably wouldn’t say a lot because I don’t wanna hurt anybody haha
    And you’re definitely right that body shaming in the (gay) community is cruel. I covered that for an article, that’s how I stumpled upon your post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pleased you found it and it was useful. I think any body shaming is just another form of bullying, though I think from an artistic/creative point of view, there’s merit to generating arenas where people are welcome to look at the diversity of bodies and appreciate them…and the souls who inhabit them.

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  2. I’d entered the same way that John did in the first SPB pageant. I was going to be traveling outside the country and not available for an in-person pre-meeting at the bar to make sure that contestants were sane and signed legal release forms, so they dropped me. Less than a week before the pageant, they asked me to come to Brooklyn and participate in the pageant. I said ‘yes’ and we talked about the talent portion of the pageant and what I would do, what contestant name I would use, and what size I wear for the limited costumes/coverings that had to be made for all of the contestants. For that couple of days, I was a prospective contestant again. However, getting to Brooklyn on such short notice (from about 800 miles away) proved overly difficult, and I was out again.

    I offer all the foregoing because I experienced some of what John did, without actually getting up on stage and letting the world (it turned out to be a heavily-covered media event) see just how small I am down there. The preliminary back and forth with Aimee and Bobbie was the same for me as for John. Some of the mental preparation was the same. I wouldn’t have won. Nick Girolan, who won, did a comedy routine that was much better than my performance/talent would have been. However, I’ve seen the pictures, and my penis is far smaller than those of any of the contestants. The winner’s wasn’t the smallest either, from what I could tell. In that respect, it was a celebration of men with small penises (as intended), and not just an attempt to identify and humiliate the smallest.

    There’s clearly no one right or best way to feel about this. Your thoughtful posting and the many comments indicate that. I’m just going to consider it a brilliant piece of advertising and media relations for a small business. In a way, I’m sorry I missed it – I would have helped demonstrate that a man with a very small penis is a whole person, and that I can lighten up and laugh at myself. In another way, I’m glad I missed it – I never wanted to be talked about on every late-night comedy show and have my pictures all over the web.

    I’ve known since age 6 that my penis was unusually small for my age. What I didn’t know then was that it was never going to grow, and that I would enter the world some incredibly difficult social situations, dating, relationships, sex, and marriage in which having a penis that one doctor described as “infantile” when I was 25 years old would play a prominent role. My ex-wife often used to call mine a “teenie weenie peenie”, so I smiled when I stumbled upon your posting today. I wasn’t emotionally secure enough to have fun with it then, and to engage her in that way, but I am now.

    For me, the main thing about this is to avoid negative feelings like fear and anger because of something I can’t change, to embrace, be thankful for, and make the best use of what I have, and to focus my effort and energy on making myself into the best person I can be and the world a better place. I spent so much time trying to hide from others the fact that my penis (scrotum also) was so small, that, early in life, I missed many opportunities simply to have fun. If I wanted to step onto that makeshift stage in a Brooklyn bar for any reason, it was to have fun in a room full of other people having fun, for one evening without any fear of being outed for having a micropenis – the truth would be out as soon as I was introduced along with the other contestants, certainly by the time we were sprayed with water for the crowd to see, and had our penises measured by the judges.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chris, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, and for sharing your experience both of the contest, and of your life. I’m glad you saw the competition as an opportunity for celebration rather than humiliation – I think that’s a really GOOD thing and I wish that most people would look at it that way.

      However many months on from the event it is, I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but I’m glad that the you and John seem to feel empowered by it, rather than objectified. I think that’s a great outcome.

      Your attitude rocks, and it’s certainly an outlook I could do with learning. I think I waste a lot of time worrying about what I can’t change, and I probably do miss out on the good stuff of life on that basis. I’m really glad you’ve come to a place of peace, and that you feel able to have fun and participate in life without feeling hung up on your penis size.

      UGH to the doc though – however ‘clinical’ a term that might be, it’s pretry damned insensitive 😦

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      • Thank you for posting my comment and for your reply. Regarding the doctor describing my adult penis as “infantile”, he was a urologist so it was within his field of specialty. Although the appointment had nothing to do with my size, but rather an infection, he informed me that I have a micropenis. That was in the pre-internet age, and I’d never seen or heard that word before. I had no idea that there was any medical terminology for my anomaly. He used the word “infantile” regarding its dimensions, and in the same spoken statement called its formation “unremarkable” and function “normal”. Two out of three is something to be thankful for, I guess.

        It was also a helpful visit and discussion for me because he ran through my options, and there weren’t many. Today, anyone with access to good medical care would be diagnosed as a boy by the family’s regular doctor, and his parents referred to a pediatric urologist or endocrinologist. That didn’t happen for me, and I doubt my parents ever knew that my penis stayed small. They probably never saw me nude after about age 4, and I never told them about my concern once I observed that mine was much smaller than other boys’ my age, or that other children teased me about it starting at age 11.

        Conservative medical care today would call for hormone treatments at or just before puberty. That didn’t happen for me, and the urologist told me that it was at least ten years too late by the time I was 25, and what I had was all that I would ever have.

        He told me not to have surgery, because I didn’t have enough of a penis to begin with to allow for much increase through surgery. If it went exceptionally well, I’d still have a very small penis. With complications, such as an infection or scarring, I might end up with no penis at all, or unable to ever have another erection. It’s only about the size and shape of a sewing thimble, but sex with a hard little thimble of a penis offers better prospects for mutual pleasure than sex with no penis or with a soft thimble.

        As your posting highligts, the social issues and questions about body image, objectification, and humiliation are far more difficult to resolve than those of physical intimacy in a relationship based on love and trust.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Agreed, and I think that there are likely to be as many opinions on the subject as there are people. Having been a victim of bullying and body-shaming, I still don’t know whether I would be in support of events (like the pageant) which appear to empower the owners of traditionally ‘shameful’ features, whilst still allowing heckling from other corners, or whether I would rather just hope that people might opt towards compassion, generally.

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    • Chris, sorry to hear you missed out on the pageant, which was (mostly) a blast. You could have easily been in it. I, too, had to fly into New York and was unable to attend the “pre-pageant rehearsal.” Guess what? There wasn’t a rehearsal, because none of the guys went (I asked them). Aimee and Bobbie were desperate for contestants due to last-minute drop-outs and a low response to their recruitment ads. They only got a handful of volunteers that year and again in 2014 and 2015, and had to practically drag guys in from the street to be in the pageant. A former male stripper who called himself “Flo Rida” was a last-minute addition. He had a big cock and had not applied; he just volunteered at the last minute and they accepted him. So you would have had no problem participating if you had just shown up.

      As for the measuring, that was, I believe, something Aimee was especially intent on doing. She told me on the phone that our sheer thongs would be “like fucking plastic wrap” and just before the contest she asked to examine my thong. She squatted down and tugged at the chiffon material, ascertaining that it was sufficiently see-thru — and this was before we got sprayed with squirt guns. She was also a media contact and, as a judge (when you create a pageant like this, I guess you get to do everything you want), made sure that photographers got what they desired: close-up shots of our penises while she and Cyndi Freeman measured us with rulers.

      p.s. In case you’re curious, the winner (Nick) got flown out to California, twice, to be on TV shows. The guy in second place (Yours Truly) got contacted by a local dominatrix who wanted to do a video of her hurling fruit at his exposed genitals. No respect for second place, I tell you.

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      • John, your interview with Lizzi here is wonderful, as are your replies to a number of comments. The pageant is a very odd exception to everyday life, in which as you point out, we’re usually clothed.

        However, one thing I’ve learned since I first began discussing this with others only within the past five years and well into middle age for me, is that men with small penises share a great many unusual life experiences with each other. Our first sexual experiences tend to be very similar (and unlike other peoples’), and many of our actions tend to be guided by similar shame and fear of humiliation. Because there was a great deal of forced nudity around gym class and swimming, and because kids from age 14-18 talk and think a great deal with all things sexual, I was universally known in high school as having the smallest penis in the whole school. I felt totally isolated and freakish for that reason in many social situations, reinforced by whispers, giggles, hand gestures, and unpleasant nicknames. It took decades for me to understand that every high school has at least one guy with a super-small penis, and that it affects our lives in very similar ways. It became much less of a factor by my mid-20s, but by then the fears and shame were firmly rooted in actual humiliations. I’m totally comfortable with my body now, but it took four decades. I hope you found that comfort much sooner. You certainly have it now.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “Perhaps I’m a snob, or overly sensitive, but yes…when someone gets their kicks and giggles this way, I turn into a Judgysaurus Rex and feel utterly let down by whoever perpetrated the shaming. The thing which *really* upsets me is I’m SUCH a Judgysaurus Rex by this point, that I feel put out that other people aren’t also judging those who proliferate the unkindness. I get snarly when it’s just accepted as a part of life and no-one says anything.”

    No, you aren’t overly sensitive – the people doing the shaming are overly INsensitive. And it’s completely OK to make judgment calls on whether something is right or wrong. There is nothing inherently bad about being judgmental in my view, except when it’s used as a way to hurt or shame someone for something they can’t help (disability being an obvious example.)

    Bystander syndrome – looking on while someone is being bullied or assaulted – is an actual thing, psychologically speaking, and it takes an effort of will to overcome it. The problem gets worse the larger the audience is.

    @John Haakenson – I’m a trans man, so my penis is non-existent. 🙂

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  5. Interesting piece.

    Surely there are two sides – the good natured side of both the entrants who know what they are letting themselves in for and the fun, engaged audience who are joining them in mutual laughter. And the other side – the nasty people who have come along, not in the spirit of fun and humour, but as the chance to deliberately ridicule and make someone else feel small (pun intended) as a way of making themselves feel better.

    Arguably there are the same 2 sides in every body shaming thing online. The Walmart thing – on the one hand people deliberately dress as aliens with three heads and wander about a shopping centre knowing they will attract attention – and do it for the humour. On the other hand, there are people who are just dressing as themselves, but may have a large body shape or something else, who are unknowingly photographed and ridiculed -and that is cruel and demeaning.

    The important thing for us as an audience is surely being able to determine whether someone wants the attention or not, before we pass comment – and that’s comment, not judgement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an interesting perspective and certainly one I hadn’t considered – that some people DO dress up outrageously to get attention in everyday situations.

      I think where the line is indistinguishable or unknowable, it’s important to err on the side of kindness.

      P.S. I think too many people online don’t know the difference between comment and judgement, but good distinction.

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  6. I’m left in a muddle too- for the very same reasons. My immediate response was “Why on EARTH?!” And “Whoever was IN that, deserves whatever’s coming… they welcomed it in.”

    I just don’t like anything that has to do with appearance/body anything- honestly? Even the good stuff. I think it all idealizes the very issue of superficiality and our valuing our appearance more than anything else-our priorities are so skewed.

    I wish there was less ‘selfies’ online and more images of real life beauty- Nature, loving interactions, worthy validations, affirmations, presentations of creative gems, and gifts of experiences that move us, teach us, inspire us to make a difference in the lives of others.

    I think you of all people do that best. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like selfies because they’re in my control – I get to show only what I’m comfortable showing. I don’t have to endure the knowledge of the bits of me I dislike most being on display. I do try to add more nature and beauty than ‘me’ though.

      We are aesthetic beings and are designed to respond to and appreciate beauty – in nature and in each other. I think it’s rather wonderful when it’s celebrated well, but it gets twisted, and THAT is the problem, not the beauty 🙂

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  8. OK, so I definitely see this from both sides. On the one side, it’s just about horrifying how we as a society tolerate this sort of thing – whether it’s male or female, penis or breast. Allowing fellow humans to be put on parade and display for others to judge reminds me of slaves on the auction block. (And maybe that’s only because i just watched Amistad, but still.) On the other side, you have to give credit to those people who are confident enough with their bodies to put them out there, so to speak. Although, I’m not sure it really DOES indicate confidence. Maybe it’s indicative of such a significant lack of confidence that they figure “why not – I’ll just get made fun of anyway.”
    I love what you did here and the interview with John certainly adds insight. But I think I’m still in the disbelief camp. How sad are we…

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    • You know, in spite of John’s excellent insights and attitude, and all the to-ing and fro-ing that people have gone through in the comments, I STILL don’t know where I stand on this. On the one hand I abhor anything which objectifies another human being (SO with you on the likeness to slave trading) and yet on the other hand, this particular event does rather invert it and poke fun at the manner in which the objectification usually happens, by NOT being it.

      Adunno. Still mulling this one. Maybe it’s ok to feel two things about it.

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      • Thanks for the kind words, Lizzi. I should point out that men with small penises suffer a rather unique form of body shaming. Aside from significant others, no one actually knows about our “shortcomings.” That’s a blessing and a curse. Unlike someone who is grossly overweight or physically deformed, I can walk down the street without fear of rude comments. That’s the good news. My humiliation is more likely to come in a bar or restaurant in a group of friends, when one of them makes a “small dick” joke, and everyone laughs. I then have a choice: laugh along with the group (and silently cringe), or not laugh and wait for someone to accuse me of having a small package.

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        • *nods* like jokes about homosexuality or mental illnesses – those things which aren’t necessarily ‘out’ there until you come up against that choice of joining in and adding to the prejudice against your own, or standing out and risking being identified as something which might cause further exclusion *sigh* It’s rotten. All of it. And I think the way the pageant treated you chaps (particularly by changing the goalposts once you couldn’t really say no without looking like a spoilsport, and with the photographs) wasn’t really very fair and I’m sad and angry about it.

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    • Interesting points, Lisa. I think, however, there are some key differences between the pageant and a slave auction. Most obviously, we were not forced to participate in the contest; all of us were there of our own free will. Also, this was just three hours of our lives, hardly a lifetime of indentured servitude.

      On the other hand … we certainly were treated like pieces of meat by some in the crowd and, not surprisingly, much of the media. For example, our privates were measured by female judges for the crowd’s amusement (we weren’t informed about this ahead of time). Also, pageant manager Bobbie Chaset encouraged me to expose myself full-frontally during the “talent” portion of the event. I don’t know if Bobbie alerted the media to my upcoming exposure, but they were all at the ready with their cameras, and on the following day there were pictures of me fully nude on The Village Voice, Time Out New York, Gothamist, and other Web sites. None of those publications asked me for an interview to find out about my thoughts or personality, but they all wanted – and got — pictures of my genitals.

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      • Fair point about entry being of your own free will, John. Still, this sort of thing (no matter who or how) just doesn’t set well with me. I really just have a hard time wrapping my brain around why people will do this to one another – and themselves. We are so much more than how we look.

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    • I think it also has something to do with acceptance – speaking for myself of course. I have also exposed a perceived inadequacy, I guess with the hope of finding that other people’s opinions or thoughts don’t really matter. My story: early on in my life I decided I enjoyed naturism and went to clothing free beaches frequently. This all changed after I was unfortunate enough to develop testicular cancer. Twice. Long story short – I ended up with an empty sack and an anxiety about how it looked. Eventually, I summoned up the courage and went au natural at a nude beach. What’s the worst that can happen? As it turned out, the worst was the apparent discomfort of someone I had a conversation with. Surprisingly, the least worst was speaking to a couple of young women who I knew from previous excursions who weren’t uncomfortable asking questions. Pretty soon I was comfortable telling them that I actually prefer the term “balls” to testicles (which reminds me of doctors and hospitals.) As it turns out lighthearted humor is better than respectful silence. Strangely enough I went from feeling like I was “The Guy With No Balls” to just a guy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Geez, that’s one hell of a story, and I’m so glad you managed to escape worse ravages from the cancer! Thank you so much for sharing your story here, and I’m really encouraged that in spite of your anxiety, you conquered your fears and they receded. That’s a good thing for any of us to try, I think.

        Thank goodness for people who make our worlds better with their empathy and sympathetic approach to our struggles.

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  9. Rip van Dinkle (John Haakenson) here. I’m enjoying the comments, and I think Lizzi did a great job putting this piece together.

    To this day, I’m not entirely sure about the motivations of the pageant organizers. To the media and anyone else who asked, both Aimee and Bobbie (pageant showrunners) would contend that the contest was a “celebration” of men with wee willies, and that it was intended as a body-positive event. However, as to the “dark side” that Lizzi refers to … Aimee (the pageant creator and a judge) told one publication that she and her friends tried to think of ways to make us have erections on stage, but that they “couldn’t figure out a way to do it that was legal.” Also, there was much smirking, joking, and catcalls from judges, managers, and the audience. Laughing with us, or at us?

    I guess my takeaway is that the pageants were a blast while they were in session. Most of the negativity came later, thanks to our friend The Internet and its anonymous comments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • John, thank you so so much for your contribution to this piece, and for introducing me to the concept of the pageant at all!

      I’m glad the pageant was conceived and promoted as a body positive event – I think that’s really important, but it’s so sad that the internet allows for vicious negativity and bullying from behind the screen.

      Whatever their motivations, the pageant organisers certainly did something which grabbed the attention, and I hope it gave a lot of people pause for thought about body-celebrating/body-shaming and the attitudes they hold to each 🙂

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  10. I don’t even know what or how to feel about this. What I do know, though, is that no matter what there is always a vicious crowd ready to ridicule anyone for anything, and it, frankly, pisses me off. I don’t know what purpose or pleasure there can be in constantly tearing others down. My only guess is that the people who do it are sadistically unhappy, and are trying to give their misery company.

    I wish I were a hermit…

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  11. Sadly, I don’t think something like this would make much of a difference in the larger context of society. Sadly also there are so many bad things that happen in society these days that it has become the accepted norm. 😦

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    • I’m not sure it’s the right kind of thing to make a difference in the first place! I don’t know…it’s such an oddity, yet somehow speaks to the deeper things of humanity. We DO need change, though.

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  12. I thoroughly enjoyed your viewpoint on this, Lizzi. It took me through a whole gamut of emotions. I was angered and outraged at the cruelty of people, as you were, in the beginning of your article, and then hearing John’s perspective changed my own. I love that you were open enough (or tired enough, as it may have been) to engage in that conversation with Rip van Dinkle and dig deep enough to find the man behind the pageant and what he’s all about. Really well done, my friend!

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    • Thanks so so much, Abbie. I have to say, I was MOST impressed with Rip van Dinkle’s character, and the thoughtfulness and consideration he was prepared to share with me, given how our connection began (ONLY online!). I’m glad your perspective changed. Mine did, only I’m still not sure what TO!

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  13. Well, at the beginning of your post I began to fume (smoke was coming out of my ears) with fury for people who are unkind, but was pleasantly surprised to learn more and to read Mr. van Dinkle’s take on the whole thing. Good for him for having the cojones (ha!) to enter the contest and to not take himself seriously. I guess if you enter such contests you have to be prepared for the comments that come, as wrong as they are!

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    • Yeah I think the entrants *must* be prepared for the good, the bad, and the ugly of whatever Joe Public thinks of the contest…BUT, I do think it triggers something deeper and darker which isn’t good, in our society. Those unkind people ARE out there, and perhaps this takes the sting or spontaneity out of their nastiness, but it still exists, and THAT is what I wish could be addressed.

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  14. Goodness Lizzi! This is – um – I”m not sure what it is – unexpected! I can see both sides – of the argument I mean! Realised as I wrote that it could be both sides of something else. 🙂

    I think – possibly, maybe – that people who shame other people’s bodies will always find something to shame other people with – at least until they face their own buried shame. So in a way the body is just the vehicle rather than the driver (not a good analogy but it’s the best that comes right now.) Years ago, when I worked in teaching, I did a day a week at a special school for kids who’d been kicked out of regular school due to behavioural issues. (So kids with: social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.) One day we went on a trip to an event for special schools and as we were getting into the mini-bus to go back, another bus pulled away with kids with Downs and other physical signs of disability. Our kids started yelling at them, calling them “Mentals” and various other insults. It really struck me then how in spite of their frequent aggression and resistance, our kids felt so inferior, and now finally they’d found some people they thought were beneath them and they wanted to make the most of it.

    So, perhaps the way to create change isn’t so much to consider particular issues right or wrong, but to support people to face their own feelings of shame and to heal that. How we do that on a large scale, I do now know, but I guess it starts with facing our own demons and not adding to the shaming of others. So really, good for you for writing about this, and particularly for the interview with John Haakenson. I admire how you’ve gone beyond your initial reaction to create something deeper.

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    • That’s a fascinating thought, Yvonne, because often the cruelty can be highly aggressive, and I think it must run deeper than mere insecurity, so to think of it as hiding from one’s own shame…that would make sense of it, I think.

      Everyone needs support, and I know (anecdotally) that people who have exhibited behaviours which are destructive to others, whether as children or adults, have responded better when nurtured than when punished…which opens another set of thoughts, really.

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    • I think that’s more the spirit of the thing as well – most guys would likely be too intimidated to even take part. It shows a huge level of confidence, I think, and good for them!

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    • Kristi, I can assure you that indeed, there are balls behind the teenie peenie. Although I should mention that shortly after the Internet photos began to pop up, there was a daylong debate on “Café Moms” about whether or not mine were “ascended testicles” or simply very small. (The latter.)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hehe he will be indeed. He’s an enlightened, very brave gentleman, and I can only admire him for his perspective and his willingness to get involved in something like this, in order to have a bit of a laugh. I know I wouldn’t have the requisite level of confidence.

      Heheh I think it’s probably meant to be a giggle, but the malice in some of the comments really got to me.

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  15. I don’t think it should be divisive but it obviously will be. I agree with you that we should never body shame (in fact I wrote a recent post on the subject eerily similar to this), but I think something like this should be interpreted by the spirit it was intended. A statement to men that it is okay to be who they are, regardless what they look like. Several people don’t realize this, but us men can be very insecure about our looks because at our very core we are all human and insecurity is a human thing not a gender thing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a very good point, and perhaps why the reaction to this kind of contest is so strong across both genders – we’re all insecure about something.

      I dunno, I suppose on some level we need this kind of thing, so that we can confront unpleasant truths about our own nature, but on the whole I prefer things which unite rather than divide 🙂

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  16. Yes, it is replete with paradox. So much is made of questions of male dimensions (Just think of some of the stage names of male porn stars. And, periodic outbreaks of discussion among women about how much size matters.) that John and his fellow contestants really do seem to be thumbing their noses at all that and, perhaps being appropriately silly about it. And, however they felt about it, they all did volunteer, even if, in some cases with female encouragement. About the cruel commentary, I totally agree and I think it shows some insecurity on the part of the ones commenting. Anyway, Somewhere there must be a standard bell curve of measurements (actually, two sets of data would be needed – nuf said about that) and I long ago decided not to compare (lack of interest in other guys’ “junk”) and let the women who have been interested decide the merits of the case. So, in response to the subject, I can’t resist some levity in musical form:

    reblogging

    Liked by 1 person

    • *giggling at the choice of song*

      I think the best thing I’ve heard about that aspect of things, is that it’s not what you have, it’s how you use it. I’ve heard anecdotal evidence to suggest that just because a bloke is well-endowed doesn’t mean he’s any good in bed.

      I don’t know what the cruel commentary shows, other than cruelty. Perhaps insecurity or vengefulness of some kind, but I think some people are mean just to be mean.

      Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! I didn’t even think of that!

      I think a good-natured laugh WITH someone who’s laughing good-naturedly at themself is alright as long as it doesn’t become laughing AT.

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    • Lol, I suppose at least you KNOW that now you can see it again 😉 Seriously though, I cannot BELIEVE what you got me into, BUT I think it turned out rather well 🙂

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