Manhood: The Bare Reality by Laura Dodsworth is an honest record of a hundred men. Each man has had his pelvic area photographed, showing hands and penis, with the accompanying interview transcript. I found myself fascinated, as the owner of a penis, to read the connections that others made with theirs. Too many of these stories are sad and negative. So many young men where left, as they still are, to find their own way into manhood.
At the same time as reading this book I also started reading Dodsworth’s other book about women and their breasts. I was struck by the difference between the experiences in both books. Men seem to live on the intersection of their penises and their daily life. Their sense of power comes over as more immediate than that of women, whose awareness of power often happened through breastfeeding, as a past event.
It was reassuring that many men where motivated to be pleasure givers rather than just takers. Many were also very aware of patriarchy, often from having experienced it as children. They were the ones who had deliberately chosen to be husbands and fathers in a more emotionally connected way.
There was no getting away from the sadness and confusion that many men had about their sexuality and manhood. Many men had suffered trying to resolve this intimate connection between manhood and their particular manhood or penis – a term that has no equivalent in the feminine.
It was good to see brave owners sharing their struggles with penises that weren’t ‘the ideal,’ either in the flesh or in their own opinions of themselves. I’m glad that there were testimonies of ed to having found life beyond the penis in deep and satisfying relationships where the heart connection was primary. However, the general impression I got was how important the sexual connection is to men in particular. Denial is so easily interpreted as rejection of not just an act but the person.
This is a great book for all to read to get into the mind of men and a part of what makes them tick. I’m sure it would have helped me in my teens to have read this and I think it could help many young men who are struggling with their identity as men today.