Men are often accused of thinking with their willy. The penis becomes a powerful symbol of something less human, of an animalistic, un-thinking, reflex orientated existence. The Gender Recognition Act 2004 was significant for defining the existence of men without a penis, and women with a penis. This is a concept that every year drives my students at the start of the course to near mental collapse. Yet, even though the penis serves as an important cultural marker of identity, it is rarely divorced from the man. Perhaps an exception to this is in the context of public sex.

Even in dogging, the man becomes a ‘penis’, the woman a ‘mouth or vagina’, and collectively, they serve to observers, pikers, as a ‘display’, a ‘show’. In cottaging/tearooms, where a glory hole might be used – the hole acts to anonymise the encounter, reducing a player to a penis, anus, or mouth. Law has – and continues -to challenge this behaviour at the same time as privileging marriage and civil partnerships which bring with them a social, if not a legal expectation of a context to sexual activity which comprises of the whole human being. All of these meandering thoughts were in my head as fascinating new Tumblr was flagged up to me which features a man presenting his large penis. That’s it. It’s photographs of his willy. He does not reveal his name, job, sexuality or face, reducing himself to a penis with the Tumble name of Calboner (so I’m guessing he is based in California and these are pictures of err, well you can work it out).

This is who he is defining himself as. More than that, he is celebrating this appendage. His penis is something to visually share, rather than remain hidden from view. When one ponders this for a moment, it is rather fascinating. It is of course familiar to those who use gay networking sites in which many men define themselves first by their penis, and secondly by their face, although in conventional sexual coupling rituals, the reverse is true. This Friday evening, millions of people will engage in a social dance smiling, displaying interest with their face in a bid to find a mate, whilst millions more will be online seeking to entice people will an attractive penis. In both settings, the primary aim for many will be a one-off sexual encounter, and yet, when we are freed from the conventionalities of public corporeal space, and emersed in the alternative values of the virtual, males seeking same-sex partners commonly choose to re-prioritise our identity along genital lines.

Sharif Mowlabocis explored many of these fascinating themes in his 2010 text, Gaydar Culture which I strongly recommend.  earlier this year, former New York Congressman, Anthony Weiner (rather unfortunately named) had to resign after it was revealed he had sent a photograph oh his penis bulging through underwear (a picture that would be too tame for Calboner), once again highlighting the transgressive nature of an image crossing from the virtual to the corporeal world.  You can encounter Calboner and his strictly NSFW, explicit, not inconsiderable penis here.

Advertisements