The Good Men Project is something I’ve been vaguely meaning to learn more about recently. Some prominent feminist men (and women) have been writing for them, and they’ve gotten some good buzz from other folks I respect. So I followed them on Twitter a few days ago, and recently clicked through to a piece on their site for the first time.
It’s a map of the countries of the world, color-coded by penis size, under the headline “Who Has the Biggest Penises in the World?”
A few things about this map.
First, it’s bullshit. I’ve done a spot check on about a dozen of the (vaguely identified) national data sources, and literally none of them have panned out. Some are completely fictitious, others are real people or organizations with no connection to this kind of work, still others combine the names of actual studies with made-up data. (None of this should be surprising, by the way, as the original compiler of the stats makes his living selling penis enlargement equipment and home laser hair restoration devices.)
Second, it’s racist bullshit. The map’s “data” portrays Africans and Latins as big, Asians as small, and white folks are somewhere in between. This isn’t necessarily racist in and of itself — some stereotypes are true, after all, and this may be one of them — but remember that the numbers in this map are made up. The folks who compiled it aren’t testing racial stereotypes against scientific research, they’re propagating them via fiction that masquerades as fact. And the implicit racism in the map is made explicit in the article it cites as the source for its data, which claims that “in Africa, where the temperature reaches high levels, people adapt to the conditions and their limbs are more slender, elongated, their outward growths have a greater area, and this applies to their lips, nose, ears, fingers, palms, soles, and also for men [sic] penis.”
That’s right. Black guys — according to the Good Men Project’s source — have big lips and big schlongs because they come from the steamy tropics. (Never mind that the site’s spurious data portrays the men of India, one of the world’s hottest countries, as having among the world’s smallest penises. Consistency has never been the “scientific” racist’s strong suit.)
Now, I know the Good Men Project doesn’t claim to be progressive, or feminist, or anti-racist. But as I noted above, they’ve signed up some biggish names in the feminist blogosphere to write for them recently, and they’re clearly making a play to be seen as a serious voice in contemporary discussions of gender politics.
This ain’t the way to go about it.
Update | Hugo Schwyzer, a male feminist columnist for the Good Men Project, responds on Twitter: “Sigh. It wasn’t the greatest choice to run the penis map. Hard to believe anyone takes it seriously tho.”
A couple of things in response. First, some folks clearly are taking it seriously, as a look at the comments thread at GMP shows. When researching this post, I found plenty of examples all over the net of people earnestly debating the stats’ validity.
Second, and more to the point, as a joke … it’s a racist joke. Again, just look at the comments at GMP: “I cannot help but notice that the guys with the smallest dicks own most of the world and it’s weapons/resources (at least for the moment). The guys with the biggest peckers are still waiting to find out about toilet paper and indoor plumbing.”
Second Update | The Good Men Project has linked to this post, noting my criticism of the data while maintaining that they haven’t seen proof of the map’s fictitiousness, so here are a few examples: [examples snipped].
Third Update | Now the GMP is admitting the map is fake, and linking to the sites I pointed out in my original piece as evidence, but they’ve pulled the link to this post.
They’re happy to give traffic to a penis-enlargement scammer, in other words, but they won’t give credit to an anti-racist feminist critic who pointed out their error. Cute.