Monday, August 25, 2014

As I watched the MTV Video Music Awards an inescapable thought lodged itself in my brain. It wasn't "What kind of idiots watch this crap?" or "Holy God, is Beyoncé still on?" No, it's this:

Why don't men empower themselves by showing off their penises?

It seems like just a few years ago both sexes were ashamed of their bodies. They thought flesh was a tool of the devil and a doorway to sin, which subsequent TV movies and Prince records seemed to confirm. But then women took a giant leap forward with the suffragette movement. Thousands of determined young women fought and suffered and went to jail solely for the right to bounce their tatas in our face. They tore open their high-necked crinoline petticoats and shook their Jello pillows and said, "THESE ARE MY BOOBS AND I WILL NOT BE ASHAMED, ESPECIALLY IF YOU STICK DOLLAR BILLS IN BETWEEN THEM!"

Just think -- what a radical notion! It totally transformed the world. That was the heterosexual version of Stonewall, except instead of equal rights now women have dresses held on with double-stick tape. Just imagine what the world would be like without this grass-roots activism! I don't know about you, but my life would have been a hollow shell without the underboob and sideboob trends. Baywatch would have been a show about a has-been German singer with muffin-top.

Men, though, didn't have an equivalent movement. Ironically, it's because they were too busy working! They didn't have time to burn their underwear and chant slogans, or parade back and forth down Main Street with their proud penises straining at cantilevered pants. Their shame remains intact up until today, which explains why despite my fervent emails Jockey still hasn't added bungee cords or jelly pouches to their underwear. While women's red-carpet costumes frequently consist of two post-its and a Dorito, men still hide their best parts in shame, and not just the bent or pencil-dicked ones. They have to console themselves with thoughts like God made them and God doesn't make ugly, or at least they're 94% of the employees at Facebook. Is that just a wrinkle or is Idris Elba happy to see me? I don't even need to see the picture to tell you what the answer is.

Of course, this dark cloud isn't without its silver lining. I speak, of course, of Jon Hamm, who is doing what Rosa Parks would have done if she'd had a huge rod and giant sack. He proudly and unashamedly shows off his genitalia to a chorus of offended catcalls. But let's make this perfectly clear: His penis isn't the problem, though if he's like me there are six-week periods where it is. No, it's the bitter people looking at it. (Though even some on our side quibble that he could take a stronger stand. He seems reluctant to say "I'm proud of my penis!" let alone when he has a drip spot on the front of his pants.)

So while there is a faint hint of sunrise on the horizon, we need to face reality. We men will have to bow to penis shame for many years to come, contenting ourselves by showing off intellect and initiative and drive and determination and other traits you can't fake even if you suck off a plastic surgeon. I personally think there won't be full equality between the sexes until we turn on the VMAs and say, "Holy God, would you please get all of those giant dicks out of my face?" Which sadly won't be happening any time soon.

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