Does Size Matter? Dominant Discourses about Penises in Western Culture

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Alan McKee


The fact that a large penis is important for giving women sexual pleasure is a dominant discourse—even though it must never be spoken—in Western cultures. And this is an interesting fact, for many reasons. It is interesting for making us think about how discourses work, and how we may know them to be dominant. It suggests that a discourse that is almost never spoken publicly may still be a dominant one. It suggests that there is at least one dominant discourse in Western culture that is in the hands of women, and that can be extremely powerful against men when used correctly. And it suggests—to me, at least—that in cultural studies we should pay more attention to the discursive resources in the cultures that surround us, and the ways in which they might be used, rather than insistently looking only to academic writing for ways to progress particular political ends.

Article Details

Provocations (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biography

Alan McKee, Queensland University of Technology

ALAN McKEE is consulting editor of Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies. His most recent book is An Introduction to the Public Sphere, Cambridge University Press, 2004. <>