Oh, All Right. But You Asked For It

READERS are blowing up the tip line asking us to cover the story below. Here’s a sampler:

  • “Where to even start?”
  • “I think the title says enough”
  • “I think this one is fairly obvious”
  • “interesting/ridiculous contrasts between public health awareness vs. outrageous journalism”
  • “I think it’s pretty self-explanatory why this is interesting. Scientific fact? Post-colonial subjugation through emasculation? What do desi women (or gay men) think?”

You asked for it. And here it is, via the BBC:

A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men. …

Over 1,200 volunteers from the length and breadth of the country had their penises measured precisely, down to the last millimetre.

The scientists even checked their sample was representative of India as a whole in terms of class, religion and urban and rural dwellers.

The conclusion of all this scientific endeavour is that about 60% of Indian men have penises which are between three and five centimetres shorter than international standards used in condom manufacture.

This news is the top item in William Saletan’s science round-up this morning in Slate, which offers a translation of the key finding for any macacas that aren’t down with the metric system:

Thirty percent of Indian men are 1 inch short, and another 30 percent are 2 inches short.

Cue up another round of outrage, snark, statistics, exotification and sundry manifestations of sexual anxiety. As you can see, two of the tipsters left comments questioning the reporting of this story. Media hype? Colonial plot? Lou Dobbs?

Speaking of sexual anxiety: For those of you who read this site because you are considering becoming involved with a diasporic macaca, I would caution that you not jump to any conclusions about his member until you’ve had a chance to inspect it for yourself. Emigration leads to changes in diet and other health factors, which results in changes in body type. Just because your macaca’s grandpapa might have had a teeny weeny doesn’t mean your wholesome, corn fed, suburban cul-de-sac raised American desi shares the predicament. Whew!

Discuss. [Previous Sepia jimmyhat analysis here.]

444 thoughts on “Oh, All Right. But You Asked For It

  1. Also — rural America has never seen an Indian? Wtf?!!? Have you ever driven through rural America? Who owned the hotels and gas stations? I can tell you from personal experience that there are tons of Desis sprinkled throughout the least cosmopolitan areas of the Deep South and Midwest.

  2. razib,

    I don’t recall ever mentioning the word “white” yet you’re bringing it into discussion somehow. Americans in the heartland (away from Cali/NY/DC) are not 1% Indian. The mean is 1% when you include places like NJ/NY/Cali. Take them out, and the percentage of American which is Indian plummets. African Americans are well dispersed, across the south and elsewhere, as are Hispanics. And it’s unfair to pinpoint whites as the only group that revels in jokes about Indians; blacks, hispanics, and many east-asians are just as fond of humor at our expense. Even middle-easterners like jokes about Indians. It’s not a White v. Indian issue. It’s an issue about association and what do people associate Indian with? Say “Asian” and in the US it’s associated with Chinese, in the UK it’s associated with Indian. Similarly, say “Indian” and the connotations it conjures differ between the US and the UK. The UK has a history with India, and the percentage of Indians in the UK as you yourself pointed out is higher than in the US. But why just look at the percentage of Indians today? Cultural diffusion takes time; you need to integrate Indians over time (literally, take the Sum of w(j) times Indians(j) times Time(j) where Indians(j) represent the percentage of Indians in that culture at time j — and w(j) is the discounting factor to weight present years more highly than past years. Pick a discounting method of your choice.) The integral for the US is negligible since we were banned between 1890/1920 – 1965 and no sizable population existed here until 1980. The integral for the UK is different, thus the sum impact is higher.

  3. Yeah but the individuals you meet will affect your perception as well.

    Most of the Indians in the States today are doing quite well for themselves. They’re the doctors, the store owners, and often the landowners in smaller towns across the country. That puts them in a position above much of the population, especially in the South and the Rust Belt. So while there’s definitely mockery, it’s mockery based in insecurity. “How did this weird dude with the funny accent come out of nowhere and make so much money?”

    That’s different from the UK where you have a population that is older, generally poorer, more segregated, and more politically active. It’s a pretty traditional minority. So it embodies more traditional minority identity politics.

  4. That’s different from the UK where you have a population that is older, generally poorer, more segregated, and more politically active.

    wut you’re trying to say is “losers” :) but anyway, all those are much more true for muslims, less for sikhs, and definitely not as true for east african derived hindus.

  5. I don’t recall ever mentioning the word “white” yet you’re bringing it into discussion somehow. Americans in the heartland (away from Cali/NY/DC) are not 1% Indian. The mean is 1% when you include places like NJ/NY/Cali.

    and if you want to get precise, it isn’t like the 4.4% of brown british are equally distributed across the country.

  6. I’m not trying to say “losers” at all. The whole history of migration to the UK was different than from the US. The US choked back on immigration hard early on, so that (for the most part) only professionals could get in. Also, it’s been possible to airlift into these small towns and live completely separate from the racial politics if you had enough money. And finally, there wasn’t much of a pre-existing idea of what an Indian “should” be in the United States. We were never subjects under the American flag.

    I mean I don’t think African-Americans or Hispanics are “losers” because they have their histories with this country to overcome. It’s just a crapshoot.

  7. I’m not trying to say “losers” at all.

    i know, i was putting my words in my words in your mouth. i read picked politics (a UK brown site). it is notable to me how much more loserish the muslims are than non-muslims. they whine and kvetch, but if they had an economically successful community they prolly wouldn’t be so ‘activist.’ makes me appreciate the stupid stuff that the upper-middle-class commentariat here complain about. i mean, basically if you give fat fatima a weird look because she’s running around in a garbage bag to protect her fat rolls from your male gaze you are an ‘islamophobe.’

    i’m caricaturing, but i think it captures the direction of the difference in discourse :) my point is that hindus, and to some extent sikhs, in the UK aren’t quite as loserish unless they are community professionals. they have demanding jobs.

  8. as yes, i am generally casting aspersions at the way black american ‘community leaders’ comport themselves. but i give them some slack since slavery and jim crow were real. i am less inclined to give slack to immigrant groups who want to jump on the ‘whitey be oppressin’ me, though his country so great i got to immigrate to it!’ bandwagon.

  9. razib,

    sic, chill. a lot of wut you say is correct. wut got up your butt?

    As an INTP, I’m pretty much always chill and emotionally detached from anything I read or write. The closest to getting my eyebrows to raise is having to read n3t-sp33k like “wut” — not that I’m suggesting you write differently, I’m just saying that however little spelling affects me, all the rest affects me less.

  10. my point is that hindus, and to some extent sikhs, in the UK aren’t quite as loserish

    Not sure why you’re inserting the words “to some extent” here, Razib buddy. British Sikhs are as successful as British Hindus are, and are represented considerably in the upper echelons of the list of richest British South Asians. There are quite a few millionaire Sikhs around, including (perhaps “especially”) from the older generation here, living in absolutely huge houses.

  11. British Sikhs are as successful as British Hindus are, and are represented considerably in the upper echelons of the list of richest British South Asians. There are quite a few millionaire Sikhs around, including (perhaps “especially”) from the older generation here, living in absolutely huge houses.

    numbers? i know that east african hindus (only a small minority of east africans were muslims, mostly ismailis i believe) are the most successful brown sub-group. they are about half of hindus. so my expectation is that hindus will be superior to sikhs in income & educational attainment. i’ve seen ethnographic data which suggests more traditionalism and endogamy in sikhs than hindus, which implies to me less assimilation.

  12. Independent of the financial well-being though, isn’t there generally a less-flattering set of stereotypes regarding South Asians in the UK than in the US?

  13. jai,

    i found this in 15 seconds:

    In terms of religion, Smith and Tomlinson (1989:136) have reported that within the Indian group, Muslims had lower performance than both Sikhs and Hindus with Hindus being slightly ahead of Sikhs.

    cite

    if you remove east african hindus from the ‘hindu’ category hindus and sikhs might compare, but the former really beef up the hindu group. i invite counter stats.

  14. Razib, I always love reading your posts. I have an image in my mind of you with pointy ears like a Vulcan, or like those androids from science fiction movies that say, ‘But what is this human emotion called love? It does not compute, my circuitry and cybor-intelligence is contradicted’ ;-)

  15. isn’t there generally a less-flattering set of stereotypes regarding South Asians in the UK than in the US?

    that they blow up subways?

    no, seriously, there is probably more nuance and variety in the UK. they know brownz very well compared to americans. but, there is a lot of variance, and some brownz are a definite problem minority.

  16. parity? perhaps Sikh, Jewish and Hindu households are the most likely to own their own homes. Around three-quarters or more of each group did so in Great Britain in 2001 (82 per cent, 77 per cent and 74 per cent respectively). Muslim and Buddhist households were the least likely to be homeowners (52 per cent and 54 per cent respectively).

    cite. i might withdraw my qualification about sikhs now, the differences might be too small and varied between sikhs and hindus re: status to be definite as that between non-muslim and muslim brownz.

  17. numbers?

    Dunno. Personal experience and observation of annual “rich Asian” lists & awards. Lots of Sikhs involved, including the more “traditional” kind.

    so my expectation is that hindus will be superior to sikhs in income & educational attainment.

    Hmm, not necessarily. Doctors (for example) aren’t the highest earning group amongst British desis these days. The richest younger desis I personally know are Sikhs who do IT contracting and were on 6-figure salaries several years before they hit 30. Plenty of older-generation Sikhs have also done very well via businesses, multiple restaurants and property investment. It depends on which circles one moves within, but there isn’t exactly a shortage of Mercs, BMWs and large houses amongst the British Sikh community.

    Since I’ve mentioned the medics, there are also plenty of Sikh doctors around, from both the older & younger generations.

    more traditionalism and endogamy in sikhs than hindus, which implies to me less assimilation.

    The former is correct but this sometimes hasn’t hurt their ability to succeed. Also, the majority of 2nd-Gen Sikhs in the UK aren’t “traditional” in terms of their religious practice or general lifestyle; even though they have a higher rate of endogamy, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are “unassimilated” in other aspects of their behaviour. They’re marginally less Westernised in some aspects compared to their Hindu counterparts — although this is less prevalent these days and times are changing fast — but bear in mind also that the biggest driving force in dynamic 2nd-Gen British Indian culture has mostly come from the Sikh contingent. We don’t have the “nerdy desi” stereotype on this side of the Atlantic, mang ;)

  18. jai singh, i already concede the point. though i would bet there is a small statistical difference between sikhs and hindus, i am less confident in regards to which way it would go given a metric. i couldn’t say the same for muslims vs. non-muslims among browns.

    that being said, your personal anecdotes wouldn’t have convinced me. the richest malaysian is a tamil, but tamils are now the poorest malay group. also, there are cases like fiji where one ethnic groups exhibits A LOT more socioeconomic variance than the other (indians do vs. native fijians). this means that the wealthiest and the poorest in the population could be from ethnic group A, even if B was on average wealthier.

  19. Neal,

    isn’t there generally a less-flattering set of stereotypes regarding South Asians in the UK than in the US?

    It depends. Varies according to the particular community, and has also changed over the years.

    Used to be: Er, “nerdy desis”, easy targets for ridicule and “jokes”, etc etc. Especially prevalent during the 70s & 80s when the UK-born majority was quite young and the parents’ generation were the main flagbearers of desidom.

    90s: The UK-born contingent grew up and to some extent jumped on the gangsta bandwagon. Plus GGM etc.

    2001 onwards: Bang bang, jihad, come the Khilafat, etc etc.

    But I think it’s generally known here that Indians on the whole are well-behaved and academically & professionally more successful than average (2nd highest-performing British group after the Chinese). Unfortunately the Pakistanis are particularly problematic, as Tony Blair also explicitly stated during his recent speeches (some links on the News tab).

    Razib,

    I know you concede the point, bondhu — I was typing my previous message while you were posting yours ;)

    None of which answers the question of who has the biggest cucumber, of course…..

  20. Razib,

    If you go into the article deeper you’ll find additional information that exacerbates the household disparity:

    Muslim households are the most likely to experience overcrowding. One third of Muslim households (32 per cent) lived in overcrowded accommodation in 2001, as did 22 per cent of Hindu and 19 per cent of Sikh households. Just 6 per cent of Christian households experienced overcrowding. The high proportions for Muslim, Sikh and Hindu households are, to some extent, a reflection of their large size. Their average sizes were 3.8, 3.6 and 3.2 people respectively, compared with 2.3 people among Christian and Jewish households. [1]

    While Muslim households seem the most, to use your vernacular, “looserish”, the Hindu and Sikh households don’t exactly scream success with 22% and 19% deemed overcrowded.

    Looking purely at households who own a home without looking at the composition of that household is dangerous since I could, in theory, buy a home and shove 42 Ugandans (to be random) in there and consider them all homeowners.

  21. sic,

    the sum of the metrics implies loserish, not just one, of course. i am willing to accept that brownz in general are more loserish than whites in the UK, not a big deal (there are arguments about whether japanese american higher incomes are skewed by residence in the western US).

  22. I’d like to point out that the only times I was ever problematic in the UK were when I didn’t get enough coffee in the morning. And when I bitch-slapped the drag queen who was giving me attitude, but I don’t think that’s really what Blair was referring to.

  23. Anyway, I’m still trying to come up with a few good comebacks to anybody who tries to one-up me with this. Just to be mentally prepared. Any ideas?

    say something back about the last white girl you made scream

  24. For those of you who read this site because you are considering becoming involved with a diasporic macaca, I would caution that you not jump to any conclusions about his member until youÂ’ve had a chance to inspect it for yourself. Emigration leads to changes in diet and other health factors, which results in changes in body type. Just because your macacaÂ’s grandpapa might have had a teeny weeny doesnÂ’t mean your wholesome, corn fed, suburban cul-de-sac raised American desi shares the predicament.

    Shame! Shame!

  25. This is another ploy by the british and the new british (Amrika) to boost their own confidence by putting the asians, arabs, indians, mexicans, blacks down in one way or the other. Listen to the white ladies in UK and US tell about their men and their shortcomings :)

  26. And when I bitch-slapped the drag queen who was giving me attitude

    Sin, your comment involves HOMOSEXUALITY again!!! You have corrupted my pure good-desi-boy mind forever!!! Vaat will your mother think, bhai? :D

  27. That may be the average for Mumbai alone not all of India.

    Hmmm, so the macho Shiv Sena and RSS types are compensating for their short pencil dicks?

    Another issue raised was that since an estimated 350-400 million people in India are below the poverty line, this article never discussed the issues of malnutrition in India along with the pollution in Mumbai in regards to human development as a factor and as a variable.

    Good point. I suspect that malnutrition also plays a part in the very low tested IQs of indians. Ditto for the sorry performance of desis in international sports.

  28. the next new male desi hero/god will be the brown urologist who proves this study wrong by countering it with their own. any takers? i’m sure a shrine will even be built in your honor.

  29. Chick pea-

    This study hasn’t been disproven to you at all? no hands on experience, hehe. I for one think its only cause the majority of desi dudes in south asia are tiny, like literally skinny and short. I bet if they did this study on 1rst gens in the states or any first world country, it would be proven wrong.

    My experience has been i would say the exact opposite. Like most normal, athletic, none-pussy kids, my friends and i used to compare shit and stuff as juvenile deliquents. Turns out i was the biggest out of our entire group, to the point where girls in hs would ask to see it! Must say not a bad rumor to have about you.

    Point being is this, this study may be correct in india, not for desi’s abroad. I personally could give a fuck less, cause i’ve never had any complaints.

      -
  30. Ditto for the sorry performance of desis in international sports.

    This is not only malnutrition at work, but also lack of physical space, coaching, equipment, and lack of adequate playtime.

    Point being is this, this study may be correct in india, not for desi’s abroad. I personally could give a fuck less, cause i’ve never had any complaints.

    It’s not about YOU or any particular person…it’s about how the media is ridiculing Indians (which is bad enough) on the basis of a severely flawed study (which is even worse).

  31. It’s not about YOU or any particular person…it’s about how the media is ridiculing Indians (which is bad enough) on the basis of a severely flawed study (which is even worse).

    haha, you crack me up, “its about the media.” There will always be shit like this. Crying and writing letters about how indians are portrayed, and taking this whole proper, legal, approach..its commendable. All i’m saying is that a study showing the exact opposite wouldn’t be news to anyone…same reason why Fox News is the most watched News Channel. While this study may be flawed, would a valid study that portrays indian badly be okay?

    “Indian Minority Group Earns the Most Per Family of any Sub Group in the United States…. They also give the least amount of money to charities of any Sub Group….less than the mexicans who mow their lawns”

    -i’m not actually 100% sure if this is correct, but i recall seeing a similar type stat on Census2000

    BROOKLYN FUNK ESSENTIALS – I GOT CASH ~seriously download this shit, you will die laughing~

    I choose to see reality. If i was really offended, i would rather cook up a study which shows that 95% of penile implants are for white anglo saxon and make some hilarious conclusions. Much like past Stephen Glass article’s in The New Republic.

    Regarding media, what is it like 96% of all the media you see all day, minus sepiamutiny, is controlled by 7 news companies around the world..i think thats from like 1998 or something, but still.

  32. Leno made another crack about this last night.

    One thing to note about Leno’s jokes is that he changes the facts as reported in the article: Rather than saying that Indian men in this study didn’t measure up to international standards, Leno says that the Indian men were reported smaller compared to American men. He specifically said “American”.

    A lot of this, as mentioned above, has to do with how white men view themselves — small in endowment vs. black men. So a chance to take a shot at say, Asians or Indians (I’ve seen Dave Attel, Comedy Central comic, take penis-joke shots on East Asians) makes them feel better about themselves.

  33. “Ahimsa” is a guideline in Hinduism, yes, but principles of non-violence such as “ahimsa” are found in most major religions. ‘Thou shalt not kill’ comes to mind. Note the lack of qualifiers in Romans 13:9. I think it is not to be interpreted as an absolute there either.

    For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    Non-cruelty: Vegetarianism is sometimes justified on the basis on non-cruelty, although I personally question applying it in this context. A textual analysis of the Mahabhartha reveal that non-cruelty (anrsamsya) occurs as the highest dharma more often than “ahimsa”. A quote from wonderful “Rethinking the Mahabharata” by Prof. Hiltebeitel (who is a great guy by the way) :

    Of the fifty-four instance I have found in the Mahabharata, the taly for different excellences said to be the “highest dharma” is anrsamsya, 8: truth, 5; ahimsa, 4; what is in the Veda, 2; offspring, 2…

  34. thge comment about punjabi folk songs with lyrics poking fun at men with small penises – ummm hello, this is in all music! across the globe! even hip hop and dancehall songs have tons of lyrics from women complaining or taking the piss out of men with small dicks!

  35. k no1 mentiond brownz in canada spec TO n Vancouver here jus lyk ny minority lyk black n hispanicz poorer den whitey, crime all tha shit. In Vancouer lota gorayz h8 us n hav all dese tingz abou surrey cuz lota violence in Canada most indianz r punjabi n sikh. Also lots of west indian & otha south asian. black n brown get along nicely n normally gangs n shit r of both. so yea in TO gurlz no punjabi aint small lyk otha guy sed Brown da way 2 get down long wit Black. Lyk no model minority shit here ask ppl abou Toronto’s Northwest end. murda rate of 20+ sam wit unemployment n almos evn split btw southasian, west indian n black. so no shit in canada lyk tha

  36. Im indian and im 14 and i have a 7 inch penis, but what kind of indians to be exact cuz im sikh, you must me talking about the hindus.