With the introduction of the Arabic language to pornography websites on the internet, advertisements have started targeting Arabs to lure them into penis enlargement surgeries. Medical tourism for cosmetic surgery is a highly profitable sector to service-providing countries, which is why they often use effective and organized promotional campaigns. The advertising approach for these types of surgeries however, is based on a devaluation technique; they are intended to make the viewer feel insecure, in addition to linking masculinity and sometimes their relationship with women―or feeling loved―with the size of their penis.
The phrases used in these advertisements include: “Trust me, I know how you’re suffering, and I know how embarrassing it is. We share the same experience,” “Isn’t it time to get a bigger penis?”, or sharing a man’s testimony, before and after the surgery, talking about the impact it had on his life. Plastic surgeons use the same methods in women’s reception halls: “You need bigger breasts,” “Maybe fuller lips will make you prettier.” Even if the way you are consuming these advertisements are different, there is a fundamental cornerstone common to all of them; making men or women feel insecure or imperfect, and convincing them that changing the shape or size of these particular organs will make them feel satisfied with themselves, thus, creating an inferiority complex and offering a promise to overcome it.
Let’s Go to Turkey
The internet is filled with advertisements to lure Arabs to Turkey to undergo enlargement surgeries. The approach adopted by these advertisements is different from the previous ones, as they seek to formulate the procedures in a neutral medical language, and the websites often hide the identity of the doctors working in this field. Arabs also prefer to have these surgeries in Turkey for the sake of privacy. Nowadays, India is also attracting more people to undergo surgeries, and it is an important station in the penis enlargement world globally. “Penis enlargement surgeries are performed in full confidentiality, away from questions and statistics.” The more traditional the society is―like the Arab society―the more keen they are about secrecy.
Yet the amount of information campaigns, launched by India and Turkey, targeting the Arab community, through the internet, reveals that the surgeries are already well underway. Moreover, it indicates that Arab society has started to make a market for this business. It can be argued that plastic surgeries are not as socially acceptable for men, as much as they are for women in Arab society, however, studies expect that the plastic surgeries for men will set records in the coming years.
It should be noted that the “Infinity Turkish Medical Center” has taken it upon itself to translate its page into Arabic and introduce to the reader penis enlargement surgeries in FAQ accompanied with answers. One of the questions the admins addressed was: “Is it allowed to have penis enlargement surgeries in Islam?” and the answer was: “Of course, the Sharia point of view is one of the important issues that matters to many who intend to have this surgery in Turkey. In fact, beauty centers in Turkey, too, are keen on asking for fatwa―a nonbinding legal opinion on a point of Islamic law―before approving the procedure, especially if it is of such great importance. In general, Islamic jurists find penis enlargement surgeries permissible.” This reflects the consultants’ desire to attract more religious men towards this kind of plastic surgery.
Man’s Social Charisma: A Promise of Power
Dr. Marc Abecassis, a specialist in such surgeries in France, remarks: “Penis enlargement surgeries are simple on a purely technical level, but the sex appeal has a great symbolic significance that’s related to domination and power.” Dr. Abecassis explains that every time, he does his best to persuade men with normal size penis to reconsider having the surgery. However, they often insist on having it, despite the medical reports which prove that their size is falling within a normal range. The doctor says that those who intend to have the surgery always repeat the same phrase: “I want to feel better”. Dr. Abecassis recalls the French proverb that says: “One centimeter more in the size of the penis, is perceived as an entire kilometer in mind.”
In a documentary shot with French men intending to undergo the surgery, Gilberto, one of the men explains the reason behind it: “The doctor told me that the size of my penis is falling within a normal range, but psychologically and during the sexual intercorse with my partner, I really need to feel that everything is perfect. That’s why I believe that a few centimeters more, will change my entire life. Maybe I will be more spontaneous, less shy and more at ease. A few more centimeters will pay off.”
Few are the testimonies of Arabs who had undergone the surgery, but there are some common notions and phrases between them and the French guy, Gilberto, such as; “I will be more spontaneous, at ease and confident,” but what links the penis enlargement with spontaneity or having a successful relationship with a partner? Aesthetic medicine ignores what psychology says, to get the surgery done and paid for. Everybody knows that resorting to penis enlargement surgeries, to improve the mental and psychological state, is the accurate indicator that a person is insecure, lost and confused; just like a woman who gets addicted to these kinds of surgeries―in hopes of enhancing her charisma and her relationship with her body―only to end-up more devastated.
My friend J.R. tells me: “Why don’t you undergo the surgery, if you have the money needed? The penis is a fertility symbol since the earliest civilizations, and it is a symbol of capability,” While another friend, K. S. remarks: “It’s like driving the car on a road trip, you can notice the big trucks that cross you, showing off their size and power. Today, we are living in a world where we, men, always need to show off our fertility and ability.” Here, K.S. likens the penis to a truck or bus, and in fact he works in the automotive industry.
Those working in specialized hospitals confirm that the economic, social and cultural levels of men desiring to undergo the surgery, are different and various, and they are from different occupations; ministers, government directors, journalists, firefighters, and policemen, as per the French doctor’s words. But what fascinates him is a certain high demand for penis enlargement surgeries, especially by those working in occupations related to truck driving and big machines in particular.
In the documentary film “Male Domination” by Patric Jean, the camera going inside the hospital, allows us to meet Geranoudall, who has just undergone a penis enlargement surgery, still on the bed and unable to feel his body under the gauze and covers, yet responding, “How do I explain my feeling? I’ve just come out of the surgery, and before I know the results, I feel proud, I can now show off my penis.” All of these emotions are already present in language, because Geranoudall is not yet aware of the operation result, and he is unable to feel his body.
“Frankly, if I’d stayed the way I was, maybe I would have tried to commit suicide. I wasn’t comfortable with myself,” says B.H, about the possibility of suicide if he had not undergone the operation. “To answer your question accurately, I feel like I found myself, now I’m able to write my name and my surname, and even shout them out without shame”.
I will not try to review the ways in which Arab culture appreciates the male penis, how the whole system of ethics, economy, and power relations is based on productivity or fertility. The penis is a symbol of strength, and the highest sought after value within the depth of the patriarchal cultural system. In the Syrian countryside, for example, the father can ask his child to show his “organ” to the guests as a kind of pride and achievement, and women laugh at this act, which makes the concepts of manliness and maturity linked in the child’s mind to the size of the penis, which is deemed sufficient to achieve healthy human development.
English critic John Berger wrote in his book “Ways of Seeing”: “According to the usage and conventions which are at last being questioned but have by no means been overcome, the social presence of a woman is different in kind from that of a man. A man’s presence is dependent upon the promise of power which he embodies. If the promise is large and credible his presence is striking. If it is small or incredible, he is found to have little presence. The promised power may be moral, physical, temperamental, economic, social, sexual – but its object is always exterior to the man. A man’s presence suggests what he is capable of doing to you or for you. His presence may be fabricated, in the sense that he pretends to be capable of what he is not. But the pretence is always towards a power which he exercises on others ”
The Woman: Self-Censorship
“By contrast, a woman’s presence expresses her own attitude to herself, and defines what can and cannot be done to her,” writes John Berger, this time about women’s social presence. “Her presence is manifest in her gestures, voice, opinions, expressions, clothes, chosen surroundings, taste. It seems like she is chained with this presence, the female presence, in all that she does.”
John Berger thinks that when a woman is created as a woman, it means that she is inside an allotted, special narrow space and into man’s keeping. The development of women’s social presence, he believes, is a result of their skill in living under such guardianship and within this confined space. But the cost she pays is that she has to split into two personas. In his view, women must constantly monitor and survey themselves. A woman is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. Whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging herself walking or weeping. From her earliest childhood, she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually.
Cosmetic surgeons constantly need graphic designers in their clinics. The work of the graphic designer is of primary importance when designing the images and bodies of the women who will be presented to the visitor, so that she chooses which of them she wants to be, after the operation. This is the process of presenting ideal models, drawn digitally, from which the woman chooses her dream look. The second important task comes after the agreement on the operation, when the designer takes the photo of the woman who will be operated on, and makes photoshopped adjustments until the final agreement between the woman and the doctor is reached. The chosen picture is sort of considered the contract or the project that the doctor must deliver to be paid; hence the importance of the Photoshop designers.
Weakness and Fragility to Beautify Women
“First, I look for a photograph of a specific body that has certainly been altered with plastic, since all the models shown in these stores are made of plastic,” explains Y. Hussain, a photoshop designer working at a cosmetic surgeon’s clinic. “I edit changes to the image of the breast that will undergo the operation, and the more idealistic the image is, the more emotionless it becomes, drifting away from the reality of the human body. In my opinion, the lines of time and its impression on the skin give women their individuality and their beauty. While the aim of cosmetic surgeries is to create the perfect image of the body, to hide the sagging of the breasts and the buttocks.”
The designer considers the proposed model for women to be unrealistic, transcendent over the reality of the body, and he also believes that the effect of time on the skin is a type of beauty, but the most important point in Dr. Hassan’s testimony comes in his last statement: “I will admit, that the procedures carried out on women aim to make them look softer, and more fragile, i.e. weaker. While when operating on men, the goal is to make them appear stronger and more powerful.”
Unfortunately, we are faced with a vicious circle. Women are seeking cosmetic surgeries to appear more vulnerable, since fragility and softness are some of the beauty characteristics of patriarchal culture, while male surgeries are reproducing the superiority and strength of men. Social studies have shown that cultures that strongly perpetuate a stereotypical image of women, deny them their rights and discriminate against them are also the most difficult and repressive societies for men. The more typical a woman’s role is, the more difficult and restrictive the role of manhood becomes. In other words, traditions that weigh down upon women also produce a frustrated and suppressed man, including the Arab societies. Many recent studies show that sexual dysfunction is a phenomenon that is widespread in the Arab world, and the stricter the society is, the higher the incidence of sexual dysfunction. For example, Arab Gulf societies record the highest rates in cases of sexual dysfunction.
Female cosmetic surgeries, or penis enlargement surgeries, make masculinity and femininity a preimage of life experience, an image imposed on individuals, and ideal for men and women to pursue. This is what causes a permanent feeling of frustration and incompetence, because the body is not allowed to get its identity through its own personal experience, but rather it has to chase an unrealistic standard of perfection, which does not exist in life, because the essence of the body is its physical condition that is mortal, and the individual’s personality is based on the experience that cosmetic surgery wants to hide. It kills wisdom, and seeks to eliminate life experiences that make up consciousness. In that case, we will need to add another few centimeters to the penis, and some more superficiality to femininity.