The Healthy Penis

 

I’m not saying Tamerlan Tsarnaev had a point about decadent American society, but, well, this:

San Francisco may have banned the exposure of genitalia, but that’s not stopping the Department of Public Health from bringing back its giant Healthy Penis. Yes, the beloved six-foot-tall mascot for safe sex is literally coming out of the closet and will be back at parades and other city events – and this time he comes with free penis-shaped stress toys!

These are costumes.  Worn by city employees.  In parades.   To promote “awareness” of sexually transmitted diseases.  Okay, deep breath:

The health department sparked some controversy when it debuted the three characters, all penises but in different hues, back in 2002. But the penis costumes – worn by health department staff and aimed at encouraging gay and bisexual men to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases – became popular and have been copied in San Jose and Cleveland.

I’m not sure what the “controversy” could have been about, considering it’s an initiative within the city of San Francisco.  Not girthy enough?  Insufficiently tattoed or pierced?  But I do find it interesting that the giant penis costumes have been copied in San Jose and Cleveland.  When your innovation finds purchase only in San Jose and Cleveland, perhaps it’s time to rethink it.

And another thing: if the goal is to prevent disease — which seems like a useful goal for something called a Department of Public Health — then shouldn’t they be using a Diseased and Pockmarked Penis costume rather than a Healthy Penis costume?  After all, when the anti-smoking guys want to spread their message, they use images of a diseased lung.  This is what smoking does to you!

In other words, they stigmatize the disease.  They make it something you’ll change your behavior to avoid.

The Healthy Penis crowd have a different idea:

Susan Philip, director of STD prevention and control services for the health department, said estimates of HIV incidents in San Francisco are declining – but that gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia are on the rise. That’s in large part, she said, because many men choose to have sex with people of the same HIV status as themselves to forgo using condoms. It means they’re not protecting themselves against a host of other STDs.

It’s a serious subject, but Philip said she hopes the funny, eye-catching campaign can bring some attention to the problem.

“It is a light hearted, fun way to talk about an important health issue,” she said. “It sticks with people.”

I’ll let that last sentence pass without comment.

But the idea that it should be “fun” and “light-hearted” suggests that the people behind this are a little less interested in having an impact and a little more interested in cavorting around in a giant penis costume.  

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @NickStuart

    If they could get Anthony Weiner, he wouldn’t have to wear the costume.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Inactive
    @FredCole

    Its “fun” and “light-hearted” and that might be a way to sell public awareness.  Look at the “i love boobies!” campaign to promote breast cancer awareness.

    I guess my objection is that public money is being spent on giant dick costumes.  

    This is absurd and clownnish.  But its San Francisco, so…

    (Please note: Use of the d-word was deliberate to make a point.  If anyone objects, please PM me and I’ll change it.)

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Member
    @AaronMiller

    I’d be happy if there were more TV channels I could watch with my 95-year-old grandma which did not include ads for boner-inducing drugs.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Inactive
    @dasmotorhead

    Meanwhile, Australia is funding research on how “penis size interacts with body shape and height to influence male attractiveness.” Evidently, size does matter for evolutionary purposes.

    Found that gem yesterday, perusing the TOCs of my usual journals. Never thought I’d have even a whiff of a chance of linking it here.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Inactive
    @CrowsNest

    If the idea is to deter STD spreading, mightn’t it be better to display a large “unhealthy penis”?

    Obscenity laws you say?

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Member
    @VanceRichards

    “Hey, I want to too, but the giant talking penis said . . .”

    Yeah, that’s going to work. Who can object to having their tax dollars spent on that?

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Thatcher
    @danys

    Good one, Nick. So many puns arise.

    I wonder if the costumes have sufficient ventilation; wouldn’t want the public health workers developing a rash or anything. Imagine the workers’ comp claims.

    This is so absurd.

    Sigh.

    Not family friendly events, I hope. If I’d seen giant penises when I was a young girl, I would have been confused, embarrassed & horrified. It would not have been “a light hearted, fun way to talk about an important health issue.”

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Member
    @tabularasa

    This story probably knocked reports of the Gosnell trial off the front page.  They have their priorities.

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DocJay

    I always wondered what happened to that old mold. 

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @EJHill

    Ricochet founder invents new way to tempt Code of Conduct violations. Tape at 11…

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Inactive
    @FredCole
    EJHill: Ricochet founder invents new way to tempt Code of Conduct violations. Tape at 11… · in 0 minutes

    There’s a picture in the story.  I think it needs to make its way into a photoshop…

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Inactive
    @MafutaKizola
    Mendel

    10 cents: Am I the only one to doubt that the person who wrote this post is not using his real name? I mean it just seems a little to coincidental that the “Healthy Penis” is written by “Rob Long”. 

    Also the same “Rob Long” who several years ago, in a podcast marketing pitch for Ricochet, proudly announced that “we want to grow our Members.” · 12 minutes ago

    Rob Long sure market Ricochet as hard hitting commentary but never said a thing about it being lasting or not, sounds like shady advertising to me.

    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Oh, I get it.  “Rob Long” is one of those satirical names like calling a tall guy “Shorty” or a big guy “Tiny”.  Who ever wrote this post has a sense a humor.  It is good he has something to help him compensate. 

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Inactive
    @NickStuart
    Samuel Amaral: Good to see your public servants rising to the occasion. · 28 minutes ago

    Competition for the role must be stiff. The rigid requirements hard to meet.

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Listener
    @FricosisGuy

    I was thinking of the irony of costuming to conform to patriarchial expectations of perpetual adolescence vs. maturity.  Think Perec… La disparition.

    Denise McAllister

    Fricosis Guy: Denise, do you think these ladies appreciate the patriarchial irony of their costume design? It is decidedly unfeminist… · 17 minutes ago

    Denise McAllister: Maybe it’s coming back (no pun intended, people!) because it doesn’t want to be outdone by the Vagina Ladies from the 2012 election and War on Women campaign. · 23 minutes ago

    It’s pure self-objectification, which is contrary to the feminist cause. It’s highly and painfully and, from my point of view, humorously ironic. · 3 minutes ago

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DocJay

    Shouldn’t this be on the member feed?

    • #16
  17. Profile Photo Listener
    @FricosisGuy

    Oh crap, I just burst out laughing in a meeting.

    DocJay: Shouldn’t this be on the member feed? · 2 minutes ago

    • #17
  18. Profile Photo Member
    @

    The member feed has rigid standards that frankly this post, er I mean thread does not meet.  People pay good money to keep this non uplifting content on the main feed where it belongs.

    DocJay: Shouldn’t this be on the member feed? · in 1 minute

    • #18
  19. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DocJay
    10 cents: The member feed has rigid standards that frankly this post, er I mean thread does not meet.  People pay good money to keep this non uplifting content on the main feed where it belongs. · 3 minutes ago

    DocJay: Shouldn’t this be on the member feed? · in 1 minute

    Just the first thing that popped in to my head,  sorry.

    • #19
  20. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DocJay
    DocJay

    10 cents: The member feed has rigid standards that frankly this post, er I mean thread does not meet.  People pay good money to keep this non uplifting content on the main feed where it belongs. · 3 minutes ago

    DocJay: Shouldn’t this be on the member feed? · in 1 minute

    Just the first thing that popped in to my head,  sorry. · 0 minutes ago

    But ten cents, we do pay to have skin in the game.

    • #20
  21. Profile Photo Inactive
    @MafutaKizola
    DocJay

    DocJay

    10 cents: The member feed has rigid standards that frankly this post, er I mean thread does not meet.  People pay good money to keep this non uplifting content on the main feed where it belongs. · 3 minutes ago

    DocJay: Shouldn’t this be on the member feed? · in 1 minute

    Just the first thing that popped in to my head,  sorry. · 0 minutes ago

    But ten cents, we do pay to have skin in the game. · 0 minutes ago

    This thread is all about protecting some of men’s most important skin real estate, to keep the game safe.

    • #21
  22. Profile Photo Member
    @JosephEagar

    This is why my ancestors (who helped settle SF) got out of there—any place that beautiful will in time become a social hellhole.

    • #22
  23. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Denise McAllister

    Fred Cole

    Denise McAllister: the Vagina Ladies from the 2012 election and War on Women campaign.

    Yeah, but why would anybody complain about that? · 2 minutes ago

    Fred, you crack me up!! You can infuriate me sometimes, but you also make me smile. · 1 hour ago

    I don’t care what Fred says, those skirts are too damn short.

    • #23
  24. Profile Photo Member
    @JosephEagar

    Also, as someone who is bisexual and once tried entering the same-sex dating scene a mere two hours from SF in Sacramento, I can tell you that it is not the gay paradise everyone says it is.  It’s a nihilist paradise, that has ruined the culture for hundreds of miles around that idiot city.  I quickly discovered that same-sex dating is not an option whenever I live in Northern California (which is fairly often). 

    Mercifully the women of Northern California are way cool, and I’m lucky enough to be bisexual.  But I can’t imagine what it must be like for younger gay males to grow up there.  That sort of nihilism is vicious to the young.

    • #24
  25. Profile Photo Listener
    @FricosisGuy

    That was one of those times when it was good to be the boss.

    Of course, I just confirmed to my team that they work for a lunatic; but hey, uncertainty kills productivity doesn’t it? And lunacy promotes innovation so I’m covered.

    Fricosis Guy: Oh crap, I just burst out laughing in a meeting. · 9 minutes ago

    DocJay: Shouldn’t this be on the member feed? · 2 minutes ago

    • #25
  26. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DCMcAllister

    I just realized I’m the only girl on this thread. There must be something terribly wrong with me. 

    • #26
  27. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DocJay
    Denise McAllister: I just realized I’m the only girl on this thread. There must be something terribly wrong with me.  · 20 minutes ago

    envy

    • #27
  28. Profile Photo Listener
    @FricosisGuy

    I won’t touch this with a …err…umm…

    Denise McAllister: I just realized I’m the only girl on this thread. There must be something terribly wrong with me.  · 22 minutes ago

    • #28
  29. Profile Photo Member
    @katievs

    Having just finished reading David Horowitz’ Radical Son, I have less than no patience for the lying pretense that San Francisco is serious about “raising awareness” about the problem of sexually transmitted diseases.  

    Even after the outbreak of AIDS, the sex clubs continued their business as usual. When a group of gay doctors encountered their own AIDS patients cavorting in a bathhouse, they reported the incident to the San Francisco Chronicle, hoping to shock the community and public-health officials into action. But the result of their efforts was only that they themselves were attacked by militants as victims of “gay homophobia,” and silenced. Meanwhile, activists continued to blame Reagan and the lack of federal funds for the rising tide of illness and death, and to “demand” that the medical establishment produce a cure. 

    Their interest is in celebrating and promoting debauchery, not promoting public health. 

    • #29
  30. Profile Photo Inactive
    @MafutaKizola

    Baroness Thatcher once said that it feels better where the Tories are, but I can’t remember if  the noun “Tory” is gender specific gender, but maybe the right thing is wrong with you.

    Denise McAllister: I just realized I’m the only girl on this thread. There must be something terribly wrong with me.  · 31 minutes ago

    Fricosis Guy: I won’t touch this with a …err…umm… · 7 minutes ago

    Denise McAllister: I just realized I’m the only girl on this thread. There must be something terribly wrong with me.  · 22 minutes ago

    Raising objects of unspecified length might make people around you feel threatened, you earn a cookie for restraint.

    • #30

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