Why are there so few dongs on TV?

A leaked photo of Vampire Eric on <i>True Blood</i>.

A leaked photo of Vampire Eric on True Blood.

If we are to believe the moral watchdogs, society is in the latter stages of gross moral decay. Everywhere we turn, we’re bombarded with it - too much sex, too many tits, too few standards and far too little clothing. Why, you can barely turn the television on these days without being slapped in the face by a giant pair of norgs. Boob tube is right. It’s a sea of chest pillows out there, an ocean of hushpuppies, a Davy Jones’ Locker of Perky Knockers.


Well Mrs Lovejoy, I put it to you that there isn’t ENOUGH nudity in our cultural landscape. Oh sure, you can cop a baker’s dozen of funbuns just walking down the street. But let’s be honest, if you’ve seen one pair you’ve seen them all. If you’ve ever caught even a single episode of Geordie Shore, you’ll agree that breasts hold no mystery whatsoever anymore. Game of Thrones? More like Game of Cones. But when it comes to visual saturation of the human form, there’s one thing distinctly missing from all our landscapes.

Ladies and gentlemen, I put it to you that there we’re not seeing enough dongs.


It’s true. Outside of The Footy Show and Sunrise, vigilant as they are in presenting a variety of different knobs to the viewer, we are given very few opportunities to feast our eyes on the handsome codpieces hiding beneath the trousers of our favourite television characters. I almost fainted when I saw photographs of Alexander Skarsgard's full frontal shots in this week's season finale of True Blood, so rarely are we treated to the visual smorgasbord of a well stocked meat platter. The folks over at College Humor have put together a piece to that effect, featuring a number of ladies lamenting (as I do) the lack of proud penises in HBO’s catalogue.

As they say, even in a show whose central conceit was that its male sex worker protagonist had a massive schlong - so massive, in fact, that its title was simply ‘Hung’ - viewers were cruelly denied a glimpse. Other HBO outings like The Sopranos, Deadwood and even Sex and the City have all been top heavy, as if trying to maintain the illusion that male basements more closely resemble a Ken Doll’s plastic fused underpants than anything as malleable and delightful as a doodle.

Of course, College Humor is a satirical website. But there’s truth to the observation that we are overwhelmingly exposed to naked female flesh while denied access to the male form, and not just in relation to material on HBO. There are a couple of probable reasons for this, not least of which is that penises are subject to censorship based on the degree of their enthusiasm. And when I say degree, I mean literally. In 1992, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) adopted an unofficial guide known as the ‘Mull of Kintyre’ test, subjecting it to scrutiny of the ‘angle of the dangle’. The BBFC would deny general release to a film if it “depicted a phallus erect to the point that the angle it made from the vertical was larger than that of the Mull of Kintyre, Argyll and Bute on maps of Scotland.”

A few years ago, PhD student Alicia Izharuddin (who blogs under the name Angry Malay Woman) wrote this post about censorship, the gaze and sexual insecurity. She observes:

“There are clearly double standards in the practice of objectification of bodies. Female nudity – full frontal or partial – has long been a tool to beautify and sex-up commodities, homes and gardens, film narratives, calendars, book covers, just about everything that it has become banal. The banalisation of women’s naked bodies makes the images of naked breasts on British TV after 9 pm no big deal, because female breasts are not considered pornographic. Erect penises, however, are. The censored video of Girls’ ‘Lust for Life’ on the American MTV channel is a case in point. The original video, termed the “hardcore XXX gay porn” version, depicts the singer singing into another man’s penis and naked women frolicking about. In the edited, “clean” version, the offending penis went out while the breasts stayed.”

So immune is wider society to breasts (or perhaps so entitled to them) that arguments like these invariably end up comparing their proliferation to that of bare male chests. It’s a strange kind of irony that sees some people defend objectified naked breasts as essentially non-sexual while balking at those employed in the purpose of feeding children because ‘no one needs to see that’.

Indeed, it’s the ‘no one’ that also bothers me in regards to censorship and sexuality. Too often, we hear that ‘no one’ wants to see men naked, men kissing, men objectified and cast as the subject of a scrutinising gaze. But who dictates this ‘no one’, other than an assumed heteronormative, patriarchal code? Because that last time I checked, seeing men in varying states of undress had the potential to increase my body temperature - particularly if they were in varying states of undress with each other. And I know plenty of other women and men (even straight ones) who feel the same way.

So bring on the parade of wangs, willies and woodies! I’m fond of a wand and I’m not ashamed to say it. HBO, take note - next season, I want your Games to have more Bones, less Cones. It’s what the women of Westeros would want. 



  • Breasts aren't genitals.
    If you want to see more penises on TV, there should be a corresponding increase in women showing the lower half of their torsos.
    Men take off their shirts, women take off their shirts - fair swap, surely?
    The issue with male full frontal nudity is that it really is genitalia on display. Not just pubic hair.
    A corresponding display by women would be visible labia, at the very least. Which is seldom seen. Indeed, that is why Sharon Stone's famous moment in Basic Instinct caused such a fuss.

    Date and time
    August 21, 2013, 8:40AM
    • Clearly not a True Blood fan. There are plenty of women showing the lower half of their torso's. And since you clearly don't have a pair, let me assure you....breasts definitely count! Perhaps being on the receiving end of the uncomfortable humiliation of someone leering at you would change your mind.

      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 9:44AM
    • Hilarious that you rule out breasts being different if it's topless, then go straight on to point out the differences between men and women if it's the bottom half we're talking about.

      Tell the next moron who criticizes breastfeeding women that it's no different from men being topless.

      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 10:35AM
    • I'm ALL FOR nudity. Male. Female. I don't care.

      The human body is awesome. Especially most Hollywood human bodies.

      But, HenryW raises a good point. If we're talking about why we see lots of titties but no... er... winkies - this is a totally different story. We get to see plenty of man-pec action from Bondi Rescue to True Blood to just about any show looking to get some pulses racing. I feel men and women are equally represented or should I say objectified in the above the waist nudity area.

      I can't really think of any below waist nudity (maybe embarrassing bodies - in which case, ew, nobody wants to see it anyway).

      Indeed, "won't somebody please think of the children". Generally I have to disagree with Mrs Lovejoy, however, with Television, this sort of nudity would make screening many shows at a reasonable hour of the evening impossible. There are kiddies around.

      If we are talking about cinema; there's a little more room for movement and I will concede that here; potentially women are more often objectified than men. Although there are examples of male nudity (Boogie Nights springs to mind), I think many people find doodles unsightly (not me, I'm gay - but over a boozy night with my girlfriends just on the weekend; I asked them both do they think penises are ugly and they both said yes! They're straight women too!) I digress...

      I think there's an undeniable preference from both males and females that they if have to be subjected to full frontal nudity, they would prefer to see women's bits than men's bits and I think its purely an aesthetic thing - nobody wants to see a man's dangly bits!

      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 10:37AM
    • Adrian, speak for yourself, I'm a woman and I would love to see more men's dangly bits. Bring em on, I say! :)

      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 11:53AM
    • I'm with you Henry, if there were true equality on this front then we would see more ads depicting topless women. There's plenty of topless men to be seen on tv and billboards at all times of the day, but not so with topless women.

      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 12:04PM
    • I see a lot of exposed labia on Game of Thrones ;)

      "I think there's an undeniable preference from both males and females that they if have to be subjected to full frontal nudity, they would prefer to see women's bits than men's bits and I think its purely an aesthetic thing - nobody wants to see a man's dangly bits!"

      Have to disagree with you there, Adrian. I don't mind seeing some dangly bits. (Anybody else remember that none-too-subtle flash of Ewan McGregor's in "Trainspotting"? And just like that, my teenage self fell in love...)

      Red Pony
      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 12:14PM
    • Well Henry, if you see a man walking topless at a public pool, what do you think? And if you see a woman walking topless at a public pool, what do you think?

      When you open up the paper are you more likely to see a topless man, or topless woman?

      If you see men take off their shirts after a sports game, what do you think? If you see women taking their shirts off after a sports game, what do you think?

      In the womens underwear section of a store, do you see one piece, or two?

      Is it ok for a 16 year old boy on Home and Away to be topless? And is it ok for a 16 year old girl on Home and Away to be topless?

      Don't tell me that the mans chest and the womans chest are the same.

      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 12:28PM
    • Adrian,
      Just because the girls said they thought penises were ugly doesn't mean they wouldn't mind having a squiz in the privacy of their living room.

      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 12:33PM
    • I agree with Henry.

      Breast = breast
      Butt = butt
      Penis = vulva

      The author has it all wrong - genitalia are sex organs, ie reproductive organs. You do not need either breasts or a butt to reproduce or have sex. They are just tits and arse. Dicks and pussy's are in a totally different league.

      If women would like to see more men naked blow the waist in the same manner as the majority of proper actresses appear naked below the waist in film then all the guys need to do is tuck their dicks bag behind there legs so we can get a great big view of pubes.

      The fact is there is way more male genitalia on display than female. How many TV shows or movies show a vaginal entry or even just a vulva compared to a penis?

      I cant think of one that is rated with an 'X'.

      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 12:43PM

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