Added to that, she says, is the popularity of shows such as Love Island where objectification comes as standard. In the summer of 2017, one male contestant was described as having “a penis like a baseball bat”; it was, unequivocally, a compliment. None of this objectification is new, of course: it’s just new for men. “But that doesn’t lessen the impact,” Gregory says. “For the individual who is going through the trauma of fearing his penis is too small, this is still devastating.”
Interest has been sparked by animal studies, the description of innovative techniques for lengthening and girth enhancement techniques, reconstructive phalloplasty and penile implant surgery. Data suggest that better objective surgical outcomes are possible, though in many cases long-term data and patient-rated satisfaction details are lacking. Most importantly, studies show the importance of having a multidisciplinary team in charge of patient selection.
“Young men generally become preoccupied with the size of their genitals when they compare with others,” she says. “Historically, this was limited to changing rooms or the odd top-shelf magazine. But now there is this almost routine exposure to porn via smartphones. And that is creating a generation of men whose expectations of what they should look like are entirely unattainable.”
In a last brief conversation with Alistair, he asks if I would ever consider going under the knife. I tell him I’ve seen such a bewildering array of shapes and sizes over the past few weeks, I don’t even know what normal is any more. If it does the job nature intended, I say, that should be enough. For many men wanting an enlargement, it’s probably not so much about what’s in their pants as what, somewhere along the way, has got into their minds – and that can’t be fixed by a fat injection and a severed ligament.