Following a failed marriage proposal seen on Youtube ’round the world, Patrick Moote was suddenly confronted with a life-long insecurity of the largest proportions: a “small” penis. In a society that promotes the bigger-is-better ideology at every level, Moote decided to take matters into his own hands. If society feels he truly is too small to be a sufficient man, he wants to expose the reasons why and see if it can be resolved.
Like most children, Moote endured an adolescence of torment. Unfortunately, whereas many of those hurtful comments remain unsubstantiated or resolvable (e.g. too fat, too thin, braces, glasses, et. al), having an undersized penis may be the most psychologically damaging of any irreconcilable body feature.
To make this documentary, director Brian Spitz follows Moote on a much-needed journey of self-discovery, starting with trips to each of his ex-girlfriends to see if their dissatisfaction with him was linked to his manhood. Surprisingly, many of his former flames seemed more offended at the question than interested to answer. For Moote, his would-be fiancée’s rejection tapped into a well-known source of cultural conflict between the sexes. In general, men believe women are strongly concerned with penis size, and women believe men are too focused on their penises to understand sexual pleasure. For this reason, men with bigger penises often become arrogant with women because they believe their ability to satisfy them is built-in. Men with smaller penises believe women will never be satisfied with them sexually, and so they often view women as innately superficial or emasculating before any sexual contact has occurred. In Moote’s case, the fact that his girlfriend cited his “small penis” as her reason to end their relationship was both unexpected and, as becomes evident, suspect.
The more people with whom Moote shares his story, the more he begins to realize that the problem in his relationship had much more to do with his ex-girlfriend than his penis. One by one, people are shocked to hear that his girlfriend would stay in a relationship with him if she had such a problem with his body. It seems only rational that for a woman to wait until the possibility of marriage surfaces in a relationship before mentioning such a superficial sexual issue, there must be much more to it than that. But Moote needs a bit more reassurance, and so his journey continues.
Spitz follows Moote on a series of rollicking trips to his pediatrician, a urologist, a sex shop, a “jelqing” expert, and a host of other cultures, examining the peen-scene frankly from all angles. Jelqing, by the way, is a natural enhancement technique where the penis is stretched to induce small tears, much the way bodybuilders tear muscle in order to enhance its growth. Moote even visits a porn industry expo and asks both male and female porn stars and directors their thoughts about the hot topic of cock size.
The consensus: There are plenty of ways men can give pleasure regardless of penis size, or even the penis at all.
One actress explains that her foot fetish can be satisfied without any penile involvement, and when Moote asks legendary actor Ron Jeremy, “Do you have to have a giant dick?” Jeremy notes, “A good tongue is more important.”
According to Moote’s research, we spend over $5 BILLION a year in penile-enhancement products. As Moote puts it, “That’s more than the entire budget for the Red Cross.” Within this context, it seems our culture is more concerned with blood flow to the male member than it is with blood flow to those who need it to survive. All of a sudden, the idea that a man’s view of his penis could be of the same magnitude as life-and-death begins to, well, take shape.
Moote then takes his adventure overseas to a place where men apparently have, on average, the smallest penises in the world: Korea. If there is any question about whether his problem is personal or cultural, he will find the answer there. When he arrives, he is surprised to find that, despite the figures, Korea is rather phallocentric. There are sculpture parks dedicated to penises, penis statues outdoors, and animal penises on many restaurant menus. After speaking with locals, he learns that their cultural interest in the penis has much less to do with size than with virility and strength. He begins to recognize the healthier outlook they have developed socially, possibly owing to their generally smaller members. The opinion seems to be that the penis is a source of strength unto itself, regardless of its measurements.
Moote also frames the concept of penis size in a biological context, citing Sexual Selection as an evolutionary reason why humans tend to have penises much larger than functionally necessary to survive. As the journey trudges on, Moote appears to find more reasons to obsess about his penis size than reasons why it matters. This paradox begs the viewer to question whether Moote’s exotic adventure ultimately results in a Moote point.
One thing is certain: Moote may have a below-average sized penis, but he has far above-average sized balls. Both courageous in his honesty and refreshingly down-to-earth in his exchanges with others, Moote becomes an essential voice in this ongoing, controversial debate. Unhung Hero may be just the type of necessary dick-tum from which we learn to shed this unnecessary stigma.
Unhung Hero was released on November 26, 2013
Double Header: For more on genitalia and their symbolic short-comings, turn now to Stanley Siegel’s new column: “Penis Envy: How Size Influences Self-Esteem“.