People Want to Know: Why Do We Watch the Dong?

Photo: Besim Mazhiqi/Getty Images

From the awe inspired by Justin Theroux’s two-pairs-of-compression-shorts-requiring dong to “I Spy: Ben Affleck’s Penis Edition,” 2014 is shaping up to be the year of dick objectification. And with the arrival of an entire New Inquiry issue dedicated to dick theory, it appears we’ve reached the stage of intellectualizing the very why of the wang lust.

A conversation between two writers at The New Republic gets at the crux of contemporary media’s penis objectification — a phenomenon that seems especially noteworthy because, as Hillary Kelly writes, although “penises might prove intoxicating in the heat of the moment, I’d be hard-pressed to name more than one occasion in which a friend highlighted the beauty or perfection of a schlong that wasn’t attached to a lover.”

Thank you,  TNR, for distilling some very intelligent arguments about why Dong Watch has become a thing. The next time someone asks why I’m staring at a GIF of Theroux on The Leftovers again, I can respond with any of these options:

1. I’m enacting the final wave of feminism. Kelly wonders, “are we finally entering an age of gender parity where the gentleman’s region will be as ogled as a lady’s parts? … I’m starting to hope the penis craze can at least lead to some sort of equality on that front — either more penises for public display so that we become accustomed to them as just another part of the body, or less focus on women’s genitalia.”

2. I enjoy making men uncomfortable. “There’s something a little thrilling about that — brazenly making men uncomfortable, and not really giving a fuck,” writes Esther Breger.

3. I’m creepy. “There’s something inherently creepy about the world gathering around their computer screens and delightedly screeching about the latest famous man to (gasp!) have a set of genitalia.” —H.K.

4. We’re trying to start a movement toward increased male nudity onscreen. In the end, Breger writes, we should all aspire for more dong on TV, on film, out in the wild: “What I hope for is more nudity — male and female — that’s natural and de-fetishized and not a punchline.”

One day, we hope, in a more equal world, we won’t need a highbrow justification for our lust. In a perfect world, wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just admit, from the reptilian part of our brains, that the reason we saw Gone Girl a second time in order to see Affleck peen was because we really just love dick?

People Want to Know: Why Do We Watch the Dong?