And the crowd went wild. At time of writing, her tweet has 3.9 million likes, alone.
Personally, I found Greta's knockout retort absolutely hilarious. She fought fire with fire and cut Tate down to size, quite literally. Whether her rebuttal was an ethical and productive reuse of toxic masculinity is not the focus of my piece. That said, the tweet is a very public reminder of just how normalised language around penis-size shaming still is globally. The what-is-he-compensating-for blag is a classic, and there are countless others. Who can claim they've never made a small-dick joke or slur, or at least, never overheard one, even just in recent weeks or months? Meanwhile, how many people (with a penis) can pretend they've never worried about their endowment at some point? Death by a thousand little cuts.
As the ultimate expression of patriarchy, the phallus underpins traditional understandings of 'masculinity' and 'virility', making it the target and source of tremendous glorification and (therefore) shame. The very word 'emasculate' is synonymous with castration and impotence, which also belies a heteronormative focus on penetrative sex and procreation, as well as (what could easily be described) as an obsession with the erect penis. This false value-system and phallic fixation is nothing new. Caves around the world are adorned with prehistoric art (the first ever dick pics) that would leave Rasputin belittled. Today, the English language is littered with words and sayings, such as “big dick energy” (BDE), that inadvertently make size matter, so to speak. It's worth noting here that BDE (like “small dick energy”) has been used to describe all genders, and that it refers to someone's personality or 'vibe', not necessarily the actual size of their penis. Nonetheless, the expression still perpetuates a hierarchy that ties value (and masculinity) to penis size, something that discriminates on many levels, including towards men that don't have a penis, and women that do.
Although body positivity has come leaps and bounds in recent decades, its awareness has grown unevenly. Cis women and trans communities, in particular, have led the conversations against the shaming of their bodies, not least, since they are the primary victims of patriarchy – but not the only victims. American psychologist, Carol Gilligan, neatly defined patriarchy as a harm-inducing hierarchy that elevates all men over women, and some men over other men (noting that it is oppressive to people of all gender identities). Men, therefore, are not spared from the impact of patriarchy-induced body anxieties, which is why, in a study of British males, 45% thought they had a small penis, when, in reality, most do not, according to research from the British Journal of Urology.
In fact, only 2.28% of the male population are 'abnormally small', and about 2% 'abnormally big', according to an international study (of 15,000 penises) that has subsequently helped address 'small penis anxiety', an affliction that, in some cases, leads to a body dysmorphic disorder that can cause anti-social behaviour, depression and even suicide. Other ills include the fact that men who are less satisfied with their penis size report more sexual health problems, according to a report from UCLA that also highlighted why size does not matter, generally speaking. The demonstrable mental (and public) health fallout from penis size insecurities – and patriarchal body shaming more widely – poisons huge areas of human activity since, in the spirit of RuPaul: