A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

Does average human penis length vary among ethnic groups?

January 11, 1985

Dear Cecil:

Some of us were sitting around the other night and came up with some questions about a well-known part of the male anatomy. Do they keep, you know, records for the longest and/or widest? If so, what are they (the records, that is)? Also, legend has it that certain ethnic groups are better endowed on average than others. Is there any truth to this?

Cecil replies:

I am not aware of any systematic attempt to determine the world's longest male member. Specimens as long as 13 inches (when erect) and as short as 3 inches have been reported. When you get to talking about averages, though, it's another story. The famous sex research pioneer Alfred C. Kinsey kept track of all kinds of weird stuff when he was doing his surveys. Penis length (and girth) were among the things he studied. The results are recorded in a fascinating volume called The Kinsey Data (Gebhard and Johnson, editors, 1979). This includes tables on topics like "Which Testicle Lower in Scrotum," "Incidence of Playing Strip Poker," and "Extent of Sexual Contact with Animals." (Like I say, the doc was a mighty curious guy.) Kinsey's data indicate there's a lot more variation in flaccid penis length than there is in erect penis length. Under actual working conditions, in other words, things tend to even out.

The most striking demonstration of this is the comparison between whites and blacks. Largely on the basis of furtive observations in the locker room, white males tend to believe that blacks are better endowed than they are. Kinsey's measurements of flaccid penis length tend to bear this out. White males had an average flaccid penis length of 4.0 inches, whereas the average black male's detumescent member measured 4.3 inches. But when erect, the average white penis was 6.2 inches long, whereas the average black's was 6.3 inches — still longer, but not by much. (Average circumference for whites was 3.7 inches; for blacks, 3.8.) These figures must be regarded with caution. There were more than 2,500 white male respondents, but only 59 black males. (Incidentally, for those who wish to pursue this matter on their own, you measure along the top. You'd be amazed how often this question comes up.)

Kinsey is silent regarding Oriental endowments. But we have evidence from other quarters — columnist Bob Greene, of all people. In his book Cheeseburgers, Greene reports that during a visit to the Trojan prophylactic factory he learned that condoms come in two sizes — 7.1 inches by 52 millimeters for the American market, 6.3 inches by 49 millimeters for Japan. A comforting thought. The Japanese may be smarter and better organized, but there's one place where we've still got 'em beat.

From the Teeming Millions

Dear Cecil:

In your discussion on human penis length you stated, "Specimens as long as 13 inches (when erect) … have been reported." Well, records are made to be broken — or in the case of the enclosed photos, pulverized. This gent beats the old mark by a good five inches. If you think the photos are retouched, altered, or in any way exaggerated, videotapes of this guy in action are readily available through commercial suppliers.

Cecil replies:

I ask you, is the Straight Dope on the cutting edge or what? The fellow in the picture, which I got in maybe 1990, is none other than the legendary Long Dong Silver, the guy made famous during the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings. Though no official measurements are supplied — pornmongers have no grasp of science — 18 inches appears to be in the ballpark.

In some of the photos L.D. is accompanied by the usual well-endowed maiden, who is gazing at his member with an expression of … well, it's hard to say whether it's interest or horror. But I know I wouldn't want this guy gazing down at ME.

One more thing. I'm told Mr. Silver's career in the porn business was somewhat disappointing. He had the tools, obviously. But for equally obvious reasons, when you think about it, he just couldn't, how shall I say, keep it up.

Dear Cecil:

Regarding the question about average penis sizes, I was reminded of an almost certainly apocryphal anecdote.

Seems that in the latter part of the cold war Russia was allowed some limited trade with the U.S. Some nameless institution ordered 50,000 condoms from an American plant (located in Texas, I like to think).

The order specified that the condoms were to be 11 inches long. The Americans scratched their heads, called the Russians to verify the measurement, and were rudely told that the order was correct, all of the condoms should be 11 inches long. So the Americans proceeded to fill the order and shipped the Russians 50,000 11-inch condoms — in boxes labeled "medium." Heh heh heh.

Cecil replies:

This humor is so low, Craig. But I must admit I cracked a grin.

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