How's this for a scare story? Just when some well-endowed guy is feeling pretty pleased with himself, he reads: "The Larger Your Penis, The More Likely Your Wife Will Cheat, Says New Study." The story refers to a recent study of married couples in Kenya: researchers found that "Every one inch longer penis increased the likelihood of women being involved in extra-marital partnership by almost one-and-half times." Given all the stereotypes about women being "size queens," seems like surprising and potentially useful information in the original context of understanding HIV transmission in Kenya.
Not so quick, though. If you read any more of the original study, what you'll learn is that relatively few of the 545 wives were cheating at all (6.2 percent during the six-month period), and that other factors were also implicated in cheating behaviors (for instance, younger wives and — shocker! — those who were victims of domestic violence cheated more). However, here's the real kicker: when researchers interviewed the women, they found that their real complaint was that their husbands were unskilled lovers:
"Some penis may be large yet my vagina is small, when he tries to insert it inside, it hurts so much that I will have to look for another man who has a smaller one [penis] and can do it in a way I can enjoy."
Vaginas – especially turned on vaginas – are very, very stretchy, and the walls balloon out further upon increasing arousal. If you're not being properly warmed up, sex with a smaller-penis man will be more fun than sex with a larger-penis man, but neither beats properly enjoyable, plenty-of-foreplay sex. Also, the Kenyan women were more likely to cheat when their husbands denied them their preferred sexual positions — no wonder, because intercourse with a man with a large penis will hurt much more in some positions than others, and women (like men) will experience orgasm more easily in some positions than others.
So though a larger penis is correlated with Kenyan fishermen's wives' cheating, it is not necessarily the cause. One actual, underlying cause seems to be sexual dissatisfaction; this dissatisfaction may sometimes be exacerbated by penis size but a large penis is neither necessary nor sufficient for sexual dissatisfaction (or satisfaction). As happens all too frequently, a legitimate research finding has essentially been mis-described in the service of sensationalism.
Another headline on the story says "Men With Bigger Penises Are More Likely to Get Cheated on, Study Says" — sounds almost like it's their fault, does it not? If someone wrote about women like that, they'd be accused of "victim blaming," and notice that "Women With Smaller Vaginas Are More Likely to Cheat" is the unflattering converse. Let's put the agency where it belongs: first on those who uncaringly don't put forth any effort in bed, then on the cheaters! And, though I don't agree with West that "When two people actually like each other, they can work around anything," she's right to point out that relatively minor sexual incompatibilities in a committed relationship are best solved with a little conversation, lubrication, and flexibility, rather than by cheating.