Remain calm. It’s a body part, not a weapon.
It’s a common story, one we’ve heard a lot this past year. A man unexpectedly takes his penis out and a woman becomes extremely upset. The more I’ve heard it, the more curious I’ve become as to why we’ve given the penis so much power to frighten us. It’s true that throughout history, penises may have been used to intimidate, but even the hardest penis is a far cry from an actual weapon.
If a man took out a gun or a knife, I would feel fear. But penises don’t scare me. I realize I am one of the lucky few who hasn’t been traumatized by penises or their owners, and this is why I can remain calm in the presence of a surprise penis. I can even indulge my curiosity as to why a penis might appear so suddenly and unexpectedly, assuming that was not part of the original plan for the time I was spending with its owner.
I have been thinking about ways a woman might react to surprise penis appearances.
Those with previous traumatic experiences may go into “fight, flight or freeze” mode. The flood of stress hormones may prevent them from feeling able to speak, change the situation, or simply leave. Often when people have experienced trauma, anything that triggers that stress response could leave them literally “without words,” as one of the speech centers in the brain’s left frontal lobe goes offline.
Penis owners should not mistake this reaction for passive consent. Your penis was not meant to put fear into people or trigger past trauma. It was meant to give pleasure and life and love. If you have taken your penis out, thinking it was a good idea, and your audience has gone speechless or appears frozen, put it away.
If you’re a woman who’s not instantly traumatized, but merely miffed or confused, by an abrupt penile appearance, there are many ways to respond authentically while encouraging a positive outcome, whether that means the penis stays out or heads back in.
If you’re truly upset, you could say something like: I’m truly upset that you just took your penis out of your pants. Put it back now.
If you are feeling annoyed, rhetorical questions combined with a roll of the eye will get your point across:
Are you serious?
Did I ask to see that?
What on earth are you thinking?
I wouldn’t recommend cruelty, however. We already have a world of men who feel insecure about their penises—I even have a hunch that the more insecure the man, the more likely he is to initiate an unexpected sighting. Shaming and insulting the owner is not going to help anyone, and may result in further sudden penis outings in the long run. It’s a vicious cycle of insecurity and unplanned penises that we as a society have clearly not learned how to deal with.
Perhaps you’re not upset, but still wondering: why? Assuming things were not heading in that direction and you were taken off guard, you could lead with:
That was an interesting choice. I’m curious made you decide to take it out now?.
I’m wondering what you may be thinking is going to happen next.
Maybe you are feeling like the situation presents a teaching moment. In that case you could go with:
It seems you’re unsure as to how to go about seducing someone, or how to get your sexual needs met. Let me give you some advice. I’m sure your penis is wonderful but that doesn’t mean that the person you’re with is ready to meet it just yet. You can start with a more subtle move, like asking if they would like to get closer, or asking for a kiss (not on your penis). Building up the sexual tension slowly while keeping your clothes on can make things all the more exciting.
If you’re pleasantly surprised (yes, this is a possibility) by a hasty penis appearance, you could smile and say: Nice penis. Or: Thanks for sharing.
Or if feeling truly excited by this unrestrained and impulsive move, you may offer an enthusiastic: May I help you with that?
However we choose to respond, I would hope we could try to keep some level of perspective. If we can muster it, let’s show a little compassion to penis owners, even when they make poor choices. That doesn’t mean we free them of responsibility. It just means we set calm boundaries while helping them learn from their mistakes. If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we repeat them—but if we are not given the chance to learn, then we can’t be expected to do better.
Consider communicating very clearly with pop-out penis owners without shaming them. Penises may come and go. We may have different reactions to them. But remember, sometimes it’s just a penis.
Remi Newman received her MA in Sexuality Education from NYU and has spent over 15 years educating and empowering people to embrace and celebrate their sexuality. www.healthysexforlife.com