“I always hated penises.”
Last week, comedian Louis C.K. released his latest Netflix special, “Louis C.K. 2017,” and he spends nearly 20 percent of it talking about how much he hates penises.
The segment begins with Louis C.K. talking about how much he loves the film “Magic Mike.” He finds Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum so attractive that he can’t bring himself to finish watching the film. “I don’t want to see the end of ‘Magic Mike,’” he says. “I know what the end of ‘Magic Mike’ is. I’m pretty sure that the end of ‘Magic Mike’ is that I’m gay.”
Louis C.K. doesn’t want this to happen. “I don’t like dicks,” he explains, “That’s why I’m not gay. That really is the reason. I hate dicks. Penises are very disgusting to me.”
He goes on to explain that while he would “never dream of” discriminating against gay men, “I have every right to oppress and discriminate against my own possible budding homosexuality.”
Self-shaming isn’t new to Louis C.K.’s comedy, or to comedy in general, but when straight men proudly “discriminate” against their own sexuality and genitalia, it can have dangerous external consequences.
One of misogyny’s oldest tropes is that of the slut-shaming sex addict; the man who calls a woman a “whore” while unbuttoning his jeans. Essentially, this rhetoric is an exertion of control over dick-loving people, whereby they are desired for the sex act while being simultaneously derided for participating. Where does this oppressive double-standard come from? I’d argue that it starts with hating dicks.
A recent Medium article suggested that a lot of the shame that women in heterosexual relationships feel is actually the projection of their partner’s own internalized shame. Men who feel shameful about their bodies or their sexuality place the burden of that shame onto their female partners. This can happen casually. By saying, “You’re really hot,” rather than, “I’m really attracted to you,” the man relinquishes responsibility for his own sexual feeling and places the responsibility for his attraction onto the woman. And if dicks are “disgusting,” what does that make the people who like them? When the male body becomes repulsive, it becomes very easy to look down on — and even oppress — those who enjoy it.
Louis C.K.’s bit takes a complicated turn. “I don’t like dicks,” he reiterates. “That’s why I’m not gay.” But he continues. “Men are fine. I’d like to have a boyfriend. That would be nice. I would! Every time I hear somebody say ‘My boyfriend,’ I’m like, ‘I want a boyfriend.’ Why can’t I have a boyfriend?”
Louis C.K. then imagines a tall man whose sweatshirt he can borrow wrapping his arms around him from behind. He likes this image.
“I know that would be nice. But in order to get all those parts, you have to get a fucking cock shoved up your asshole.” He begins uppercutting furiously. “Like a hard dick ramming in your ass.”
Of course, this isn’t true. Gay relationships aren’t dependent on anal sex, or sex at all, but by framing his attraction to men as being inhibited wholesale by male genitalia, Louis C.K. at once reinforces stereotypes about queer sex and avoids confronting the complexity of his own sexuality. Sexuality without complexity in turn reinforces a damaging and oppressive binary of acceptable sexual identities.
He externalizes his own self-loathing by explaining, “I’m only gay for the best. I’m top shelf gay. I’m not retail gay. I’m not gonna go to JC Penny’s and suck a bunch of dicks.” The JC Penny dicks (which is to say, any dicks not belonging to Matthew McConaughey or Channing Tatum) would, of course, include his own.
Louis C.K. is able to be a tourist in queerness for the sake of comedy, but dick-loving men don’t have that luxury. What for him is edgy is, for many people, simply reality. JC Penny dicks are the majority of dicks being sucked.
Positive body images are difficult to cultivate and maintain and it’s easy to see why this kind of self-loathing is so prevalent: It has social value. Our society privileges men who hate dicks. It rewards men who hate dicks. Not hating dicks can, in many cases, get you harassed, assaulted, or killed. Not only does our society reward hating dicks, it rewards precisely the kind of repression and self-discrimination that Louis C.K. describes. If you hate your own sexuality, you’ve done society’s work in advance.
Straight men need to be careful when talking about dicks. When penises go from “unattractive” to “disgusting,” something nefarious begins to happen. What at first glance reads as funny self-deprecation actually reinforces dangerous misogyny and homophobia. Self-loathing is easily weaponized and it can quickly become a powerful tool of oppression. If straight men cannot confront their own bodies and sexuality with openness rather than disgust, it is not they who will pay for it.
This is ridiculous. Louis CK is a COMEDIAN who makes JOKES. When you read too much into this crap you come up with theories that aren’t even there. He makes a joke about he hates penises, which is his right. I hate pork and thinks it’s disgusting and I have a right to express that no matter what way. By doing so I am not insinuating that you, as a pork eater, are disgusting I just think pork is disgusting FOR ME.
And I love how you bring up “sexism against women,” when women are not even mentioned. Jesus Christ.. This joke is not an attack on “dick lovers” if anything it’s nothing more than self deprication.
And I’ll be honest as a gay man, most fucks are disgusting. A handful are nice (and nice does not mean big) but many are gross, smelly and misshapen. That’s just life. Penises are meant to be enjoyed internally more than externally anyway. There is nothing wrong with a straight man finding them disgusting HELL a huge chunk of straight WOMEN find them disgusting too. A lot of men don’t have “JC Penney dicks” they have Dollar General dicks lol.
It’s really too bad that as a gay man you feel penises are disgusting. Gross, smelly and misshapen? You should appreciate your own penis, no matter the size or shape. You should appreciate other penises, as you are attracted to men. I feel bad for you and certainly any partners you have. I am a man and I am really appreciative of my penis, and I certainly can appreciate viewing other men’s penises, as the appendage is hyper indicitave of what it means to be a male. Testicles, also. I am cisgendered and love my external genitalia. I am so confused as to why and how anyone thinks penises are disgusting or shameful to view. People have such a weird hangup about nudity, especially male nudity. We should ideally all feel comfortable with ourselves.
this was a good article and you made a lot of great points. Its very telling that the first commenter got super defensive about what you had to say. Contrary to what many believe, plenty of women find penises very attractive and sensual to look at (and to feel). It seems like a lot of people like projecting their own insecurities and worldview onto others. Some of us enjoy seeing a nice, full, thick crotch…others don’t…and thats ok.