I can clearly remember the first penis (besides my own) that made an impression on me. I was at my friend’s house and I was no more than 7 years old. He and I were leaving his room, probably heading down to the basement to look for Pop Shoppe pop (his family was the only one I knew that actually bought the stuff) when we saw his father came out of the shower. I’m not sure whether his dad had progressive views on nudity or if he just didn’t notice we were there, but he walked out of the bathroom and down the hall to his bedroom, toweling his hair, his penis bobbing along.

Why do I remember my neighbor’s cock as clear as day? I can barely recall his or even my childhood friend's name, yet somehow I can't forget the image of his penis.

It's not as if my friend's father was some kind of amazing, rare creature. As I remember, he was somewhat ordinary: olive-skinned, dark-haired, stout. In fact, a similar set of adjectives could be used to describe his dick. As a boy, I saw how different his penis was from mine. His was darker, and the line of his circumcision was quite pronounced. I remember his distinct, dark bush, but mostly I remember how thick his penis was, even in a completely flaccid state. It looked sturdy, masculine.

I remember thinking: I hope mine looks like that someday.

It doesn’t.

A person’s relationship with their penis can be complex, wonderful, confusing and deeply influenced by society. One's penis can be a source of pleasure and pain, praise or embarrassment. (Our article, 10 Things You Don't Know About Penises demonstrates just how mysterious and fascinating this organ is.)

Unlike some of these guys, I have fairly benign feelings about my penis. I like it just fine and have no complaints. It is circumcised and has a slight curve. I’ve been told that the curve is a result of the circumcision. The head is just slightly wider than the shaft. According to this article I am a bit above average in the all-important categories of length and width and am more of a grower than a shower.

All-important indeed. When I say that a person’s relationship with their penis is complex, size is usually the main concern. Other factors that might influence one's feelings about their penis include coloring and shape, but size seems to be the most highly considered factor, and one that has long been fodder for comedy.

"When a joke is made about a man’s penis size," notes Jason Armstrong, blogger at Hunting for Sex: Cautionary Tales from the Quest, "we men ourselves guffaw and are expected to be strong enough to take the joke. Men haven’t gotten to the place where we can even admit to ourselves that penis insults have a corrosive effect on our psyches." Sam Sharpe, of Met Another Frog, concurs: "I think small penis jokes, in particular, are an accepted part of our culture and no one ever stops to think about their effect on people."

Note, of course, that it's always jokes about small penis size that get the laughs. It is rare that we hear any demeaning big dick jokes. Instead, a big penis is like some kind of magical unicorn... in fact, perhaps well-endowed folk are more prevalent in Scotland ?

Sam and Jason are happy with the way their cocks (their preferred term) look, though both would be interested in adding size if possible. "If given a magical, side-effects free way of 'improving’ my penis the same way I could lose a few pounds, whiten my teeth or remove skin blemishes, then I would," Sam concedes, and he doesn’t think he’s the only one. "I do believe that with the exception of the extremely well-endowed, most men would add a little size if they could."

On the other hand, while Jason thinks a bit more girth would make a good addition to his cock (pun intended), he does appreciate the unique nature of his circumcision: "Underneath the head, there are two connective tissues that connect from the head to the shaft." Having seen only one other person with this sort of cut, Jason knows his cock is special.

But even if we feel good about our penises, can the opinion of others - via personal interaction and media - influence our own cock confidence? It is understandable that negative influences might leave one feeling a little, well ... limp.

Sam relates that "a lifetime of exposure to popular culture's assertions that, as far as penises are concerned, bigger is better (not to mention widespread racial stereotyping on the issue) must have affected me in some way." He feels that he’s been "conditioned" to take others' opinions more seriously than his own.

Fortunately, the negative messaging doesn’t affect everyone. Some people are unfazed by all the talk, jokes and expectations.

"I remember being with a man whose penis truly was the size of a small pencil," Jason recalls. "But this gentleman had such self-confidence, and whether by choice or by natural inclination, he was an aggressive bottom. I admired the fact that he didn’t allow his lack of size to affect the size of his enthusiasm."

The long and short of it? Don’t beat yourself up about your cock. Beat yourself off instead!