How do you draw a penis?
September 22, 2017 5:11 PM   Subscribe

How do we learn to draw a penis? This has been niggling at the back of my mind for years, and it is finally time I got to the bottom of it.

So, growing up in the Philly suburbs, if someone were to draw a quick sketch of a dong, it would have a scrotum that looked like an upside down heart with the shaft lofting skyward at a 60(ish) degree angle.

However, I have lived in Korea for a long time now, and most of the penis sketches I have seen (graffiti, students notebooks, etc) show a rod that is pointing straight down with the representation of of a single testicle adorning each side, kind of like how I would draw the face of an insect.

And what finally got me to ask this question was finding this, which shows the "Korean style" with a 180 degree rotation, like a rocket blasting into the heavens.

Is penis drawing influenced by culture? I can't imagine children are talking about about the proper form of drawing a schlong before defacing the playground slide with a sharpie. Is this something that has been looked into before? If it isn't too chatty, I would love to know if there are other regional differences.
posted by Literaryhero to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Best answer: I've seen it both ways in graffiti in California. Just wanted to note that when I was learning Japanese in 8th grade a classmate taught me to remember the hiragana character for "hi" (sounds like he, looks like ひ, though that font doesn't emphasize the testicle part as much as it could) by saying it looked like a penis of the Korean style you describe.
posted by pinochiette at 6:14 PM on September 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Some light research: Maya and the Bee is animated in Japan, and it is possible that they turned the phallus 180 degrees so that it would be more aesthetically fitting with the scene.

California has a much larger population of Asian people than Philly does, so maybe seeing both types in Cali is indicative of a North American/Asian divide.

More data needed, though, and I will stop threadsitting.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:38 PM on September 22, 2017

From my anecdotal sampling of Dick-drawing friends I've grown up with, I'd say it's splt pretty evenly.
posted by Grandysaur at 6:48 PM on September 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

In anime, I've seen the downward (sorta limp-ish) version used on occasion because it looks like an elephant from the front. A trunk and two flappy ears. Possibly from the olden times anime's nonchalant attitude towards just showing naked children running around like it's no big deal.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:07 PM on September 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I apparently am naive and sheltered, so I never saw (or at least deigned to recognize) any penis glyph until well after I'd learned art skills like perspective and doodled enough in my school notebooks to be halfway decent. So I'd draw one from 3/4 persepctive from the side

So, yes, I'm guessing the way people choose to draw them is cultural and learned...
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:51 PM on September 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, and most of the ones I see are pointing sideways, fwiw.
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:52 PM on September 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't know the answer but I think you could also add the flying penises of Bhutan to your data set.

On the other hand, how does anyone learn to draw anything? Most of us are influenced by the drawings we see - think about how kids and even non-artistic adults might draw a cat, a house, a boat, a cloud, etc.
posted by bunderful at 7:54 PM on September 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Here's my completely subjective take on the subject:
First, let's make a distinction between what a penis *actually* looks like, and what a somewhat cartoonish, symbolic penis looks like. If you're an owner of a penis, you have one to examine at close range and you know what a real-life penis looks like. This is different from penises that are depicted in graffiti, middle school locker rooms, and the credits sequence of the movie Superbad.

However, I don't think most people examine their own penises (or those belonging to others) when they want to draw one, unless they're in a rather advanced art class.

I suspect most people get their ideas about how to draw a penis by seeing other drawings of penises. When I say "drawings", I mean cartoons, doodles, graffiti, and other non-realistic, symbolic, and non-representational renderings of penises. I'm nrot talking about classical realist penis drawings that are anatomically correct.

The TL;DR version of what I'm saying is: people learn how to draw penises by seeing how other people learn how to draw penises. There are most likely regional differences, like the ones described in the original post.
posted by cleverevans at 8:18 PM on September 22, 2017 [9 favorites]

Anecdata: traveling in northeastern Poland a few years ago, I saw a lot of what a traveling companion dubbed the "cloverdick", which was clearly phallic but had the testes and penis as separated lobes like a three-leafed clover (penis between testes). This was used like a graffitti tag, on bus shelters and hallways at a technical school, but it was pretty widely distributed - if it was one person they were pretty dedicated to drawing cloverdicks on everything.
posted by momus_window at 9:55 PM on September 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

Cloverdick is also how I'd doodle a penis (penis pointing up) and how I'm used to seeing it in Western Europe.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 12:08 AM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So Poland and Western Europe fit in with the "cloverdick paradigm" which kind of makes me think it might be America vs the world. Thanks a lot everyone!
posted by Literaryhero at 5:07 AM on September 24, 2017

The Cerne Abbas Giant of Dorset (whether ancient or 17th century) is definitely a cloverdick.
posted by maudlin at 7:04 PM on October 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

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