This photograph and interview is taken from Laura Dodsworth’s new book Manhood: The Bare Reality, which features photographs of 100 men and interviews about their relationship with their penises. As the photographer Dodsworth says, everyone notices the photos, but it is the men’s  “warm, brave and honest stories” that are so interesting, and moving.

It is the follow-up to her book Bare Reality, which featured 100 women talking about their breasts.


I’m really into sports, but I don’t particularly care for appearance. I like to look good but I think of my appearance as more of a byproduct of sport. It’s common for people to go to the gym, work out loads, but there’s nothing useful about the muscles they’re building. If I was in a bad situation I’d be able to get out of it comfortably because of my fitness level.

Parkour is my main sport at the moment. I know a couple of gym bunnies, but I can’t really get along with those people. For some reason gyms all have these walls of mirrors, and people that obviously lift loads of weights stand there and take their picture for Instagram or Facebook or whatever. It’s really narcissistic.

Loads of people use steroids. When I was in college, a couple of guys were taking steroids, injecting it into their butt cheeks, or getting their friends to, which is a bit weird. They had such bad anger issues. I don’t know if it’s the kind of person that does that sort of thing or if the steroids lead to the anger issues, but they were so prone to anger that if you made a joke that was slightly denigrating towards them they would flip. It was just banter, a joke. One guy literally started shoving me around the car park and I was like, ‘You do realise if you hit me you’ll get chucked out of college and you’ll lose your job?’ and he said, ‘I don’t care.’ I was like, ‘How can you not care?’ It’s just a bit worrying really.

I’ve quit porn. Actually I quit masturbation entirely for quite a long time.

I used to have issues ejaculating with my ex when having sex. Hand jobs and blow jobs were fine, but that was normally because they were on the rougher side. I think ejaculating became associated with my hand and watching porn. I had issues with being on top too. I think that’s because when watching porn I would lie still, whereas when having sex I actually have to be up and mobile.

My new girlfriend did some research on it. There are a few issues. Watching porn is nothing like actually having sex. Also the feeling of the hand is nothing like actual sex or another person – there’s this thing called the ‘death grip.’ What happens to a lot of people is they grip too tight when masturbating and they get used to it and then sex doesn’t feel tight enough. I mean, some people are very tight, but they’re not that tight. For me, a mixture of all of these led to my problem. My girlfriend and I are having sex perfectly fine now. Well, we’re getting there.

Shall I tell you how we met? We met doing parkour and we were friends for a while. A few years ago she wrote up a sex contract as part of an art project but she never got the chance to use it. One night she asked me if I wanted to sign her sex contract with her.

I said no at first. Then I mulled it over and thought, ‘What’s the worst that could happen, really? Like, I’m friends with her, but what’s wrong with sex? Why not?’ I messaged her to ask if I could change my mind. And then she sent over the contract. It’s a great idea, but it took me a while to get over how weird it felt at first.

The one we signed was called ‘Three Mergers’, as in having sex three times, and then you decide where you want to go from there. You can sign another contract, or you can just leave it and not do anything again. You can cut it off at any time, but the idea is you sign it like you would anything else. So you sign this contract and then you do the deed. Obviously it’s not properly legal in the UK.

Our first kiss? OK, that was awkward. It was on this sofa. (laughs). It wasn’t in the contract, but we decided beforehand it would be a bit weird if we didn’t kiss while having sex, or building up to sex. We went to kiss each other and the first thing that happened was our teeth clashed and we both went ‘Ow.’ Then we went to try again and it flowed a lot better.

We got to the bedroom and I told her I had issues with staying hard and ejaculating. I didn’t want to say beforehand, it felt really awkward. I wasn’t undressed at that point and it’s never too late to say no. She said it was fine and we’d work through it. I didn’t lose my erection, but I didn’t ejaculate having sex.

Porn is an addiction in the end. In the same way that gambling isn’t a physical addiction, it’s not actually in your blood, but it gets into your mind. I used to use porn every day. Quitting porn and quitting masturbation was like a reset. After several weeks I could orgasm during sex again. It had to be quite rough, fast sex to start with, but at that point I could. Then it changed from being kind of awkward and a bit annoying that it wasn’t happening to, ‘Oh, I can orgasm with sex now, this is good.’ And then it kind of slowed down and got really good. I would like to be able to orgasm from more gentle sex. It still has to be a bit faster than I’d like. I still have issues with coming when I’m the one moving, and not lying down. That’s getting better too, I’m very close.

A lot of older men who started watching porn later in their life actually don’t have many issues because they’ve been with women, they know what sex is actually like. The problem is when people start young on the iPhone that their parents got them, they don’t have to sneak to the computer or anything, they can just watch it, every single night, hardcore, softcore, they can watch people getting fisted, elbow-deep up the bum if they really want to, that kind of thing. They can watch anything they want and that’s when it gets to be an issue. If you get brought up with things from a young age then they stick with you. If you hit puberty and get straight on to porn, which happened to me and to a lot of people my age, that’s when it becomes a big issue and affects you later on.

Twenty years old


Manhood: The Bare Reality, published by Pinter & Martin, £14.99