When it comes to dealing with physical insecurities, men often keep their feelings hidden. They might feel embarrassed, or worried that their "undesirable" traits could potentially put their manhood into question.
And when it comes to their penis, in particular, this can be a great cause of anxiety, with size being the number one factor.
But adult entertainer Addi Stewart, who is best known by the name Malcolm Lovejoy, tells HuffPost Canada that the only way for men to combat these feelings is to start speaking more openly about it.
"There is a lack of discussion about really transforming and evolving all the necessary concepts to re-evaluate the penis," he explains. "Men seem to be afraid to do anything except make their penis piss and ejaculate. To actually understand their penis' personality on an emotional or energetic level? A foreign concept from outer space to many men.
"And this lack of conversation comes from the capitalistic commodification of sexuality, if not the fundamental devastation of sexuality via religious shame."
But it's not that easy to look at your penis in that way, as many men primarily associate their genitals with emotional and physical pride.
Psychology Tomorrow notes, "beyond athleticism, job prestige or earning potential, the powerful penis is considered the true physical manifestation of masculinity." And for straight men, it partly has to do with being attractive to their partner, psychotherapist Alyssa Siegel explained.
"Most men don’t speak about their penis to their partner, so most women take it for granted that men don’t worry about their penises until they come across the man who asks more than once for reassurance,” she said. “My male clients express their concern more about maintaining an erection or pleasing their partner at first, but then as they get more comfortable with me, they might acknowledge that size is a concern."
She also said that many of her male clients tend to compare themselves to the size of other men.
"There’s isn’t a man with whom I’ve discussed this who hasn’t measured his penis and then gone online to see how his size stands up against others," the Portland-based sex expert shared. "I think the insecurity comes from a deep sense of male competition that’s inbred in our culture. Most men fear that that they will not be able to attract and keep a mate."
"There’s isn’t a man with whom I’ve discussed this who hasn’t measured his penis and then gone online to see how his size stands up against others."
The case seems to be the same for gay men as well.
Back in 2016, Gay Star News reported that bottoms (men who wish to be penetrated), often look for "more hung" men, while tops (men who do the penetrating) tend to boast when they have a big penis.
And while there is a looming stereotype that only men with smaller penises tend to be the ones on the insecure side, Stewart, who maintains a private polyamorous sex life outside of work, says that bigger isn't always better. Reflecting on a personal story, he asserts that the concept of size is all relative.
"One time, a lover of mine said, 'I need a damn break from your donkey cock' with so much disdain and cynicism in her voice, it hurt and offended me beyond belief," he reveals. "I felt just as insecure about having a [big penis] as I think someone else might feel about having a smaller one. The point was, I was absolutely insufficient to someone I cared to give myself to. I still can see that moment clearly, it scarred me so deeply. I was made to feel like a freak of nature."
So how do men begin to combat these insecurities and start to feel encouraged to face their physical doubts? Stewart thinks it's time for men to let go of their egos and be upfront about their thoughts.
"[Men] need to just entirely and absolutely stop giving a fuck about what society says 'being a man' is," he states. "Stop participating in perpetuating the poisonous patriarchal performance piece that society sets up in public every day of our precious little lives. You're a man whether you have a one-inch penis, or an 11-inch penis, or just feel like you were born a man. It's not a contest."
Aside from that, the Toronto-based sex worker says there needs to be more spaces for men to seek professional help without judgement as far as their sexual and mental health goes.
"[There is] a lack of genuinely healthy spaces for [us] to receive treatment and care from professional health care providers," Stewart explains. "Once, I just told a doctor in a walk-in clinic that I did sex work and got the worst cold shoulder for the rest of the visit."
As for masculinity, the self-proclaimed "personal lovemaker" think it's about time we all broaden our scopes, noting that society needs to stop shaming men who don't fit into "macho" ideals.
"We must teach all men that being in touch with your feminine side isn't weak, gayness isn't weak and violence isn't strength. We need to constantly remain true to our own identities, no matter where it stands on the spectrum of masculinity, that is the ultimate way to manifest individual, personal and infinite power in your life."