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Rego: Society has unrealistic sexual expectations for penises

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in the following column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the views of The Collegian or its editorial board.

Movies, pornography and literature have worked together to form an unrealistic ideology of what a good sexual experience entails. More accurately, media has taught us to have certain expectations on what sexual organs should and shouldn’t look like, how they should and shouldn’t smell and even how they should and shouldn’t function.


Understanding the unrealistic depictions of sexual organs is crucial for college students who may be having sex for the first time or using this experience to expand their sexual repertoire. Let’s explore the sexual expectation of the penis versus the reality of the penis. The penis has high expectations as a sexual organ based on how it has been perpetuated through visual and written pornography. Looks, smells and functions are the three main factors to explore.

Movies glamorize sex in general to be a beautiful masterpiece of two bodies. Sex on screen seems like it should be easy, fun and clean, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Sex is sweaty, messy and often times not the cleanest experience. Sex can be complicated both physically and emotionally, making it not a seamless work of art. Society should not view movie sex as an accurate expectation of what sex is really like, period.

Due to all these porno actors who take medications to increase the performance and size of their penis to unrealistic heights, the penis has now obtained the reputation of needing to be both long and girthy to be pleasurable. It’s also expected that the penis must look pretty, which in this case, means being circumcised.

The reality is the penis can come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one size fits all. It’s really all about how one uses their penis to create pleasure for their partner and actually has very little to do with genuine size being the sole cause for the pleasure. For the most part, the idea that a penis has to look a certain way or be a certain size to give pleasure is a myth.

Movies, and again pornos, show people going down, around and near penises with no fear. Perhaps they are trying to give the impression that the penis, and sex in general, doesn’t give off a smell. Be forewarned: there is definitely a smell.

However, just because there’s a smell doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. It just means we are human, and this is the reality. The human body sweats everywhere; there is sweat around the penis and definitely the ballsack. Unless your partner showers directly before any sexual encounter every single time, there’s a high chance that the penis can smell a little ripe, and that is normal.

The last big one here is function. Porn portrays the penis to be this sexual organ that is always rock hard and ready to go with the capability of spewing a gallon of cum half a mile across the room. This couldn’t be any more unrealistic.

Some penises may have difficulty getting hard, some might have difficulty staying hard and some might not carry a very large load. None of this makes the penis broken; it just means it’s something you’ll have to understand and work through with your partner. It is completely normal and OK for younger people to have erectile dysfunction, and people shouldn’t be shamed for how their body naturally functions.


Don’t let media fool you into believing how a penis should look or perform. Just because your partner’s penis doesn’t look like the ones you see on the silver screen doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it. Every penis is different, and it’s toxic to believe there is one holy grail standard that every penis should imitate. 

Shay Rego can be reached at or on Twitter at @shay_rego.

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