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“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.”
Many doctors question whether the benefits of lengthening surgery outweigh the risks. A 2006 study found that only 35% of men were satisfied with the outcome of surgery, which added only half an inch, on average, to length. Men who are overly preoccupied with penis length tend to have unrealistic expectations of surgery and should seek counseling instead, the authors wrote.
A three-judge panel of Sixth Circuit appellate judges took up the question in a lengthy opinion handed down on December 14, 2010. To address the Fourth Amendment issue, the judges first had to decide if taking the e-mails from NuVox constituted a "search" at all—with "search" in this case defined as the government infringing upon "an expectation of privacy" that "society is prepared to consider reasonable."
The government had an argument to defend this position, the so-called "third-party doctrine." Once the target of surveillance had voluntarily revealed information to someone else, the idea went, it was no longer quite so private and so could be obtained from that third party with a mere subpoena, which didn't require the high "probable cause" standard of evidence. This doctrine explained why remotely stored e-mail was so easy to access under the SCA, despite the fact that no one "reveals" the contents of their e-mail to their e-mail provider in the same way they might show a letter to a friend. Not surprisingly, the third party doctrine has been roundly criticized.
And speaking of reconstructive surgery, this is a huge risk as well. I'm not qualified to speak knowledgeably about this topic. But my understanding is this kind of surgery is usually only an option for medical need. Completely non-functioning penis, reconstruction after serious injury, sex changes, that kind of thing. If you were to do this for purely cosmetic reasons, for example because you want a bigger member, if you found a doctor who was willing to do this for you my understanding is that you'll trade this off with a loss of sensitivity. Depending on the methods used, you could wind up with nerve damage, or even areas of no sensitivity. And sensation is one of the major mechanisms for many men to achieve an erection. I have heard tell of men who got such surgeries only to wind up with a larger penis that didn't perform.
Whatever the intellectual oddities of this position, seizing e-mail from Internet servers quickly became a practical boon for investigators. "Even just five years ago, if the government wanted to get access to potentially incriminating evidence from the home computers of ten different suspects, investigators had to convince a judge that they had probable cause in order to obtain a search warrant for each person," wrote security researcher Chris Soghoian in a 2009 paper. "The investigating agency would then send agents to raid the homes of the individuals, remove the computers, and later perform labor-intensive forensic analysis in order to get the files."
All this might be leading to more than simple image anxiety; some have pointed to a new mental-health issue they term penile dysmorphic disorder. “It is a minority of men – and we don’t know how many – but it certainly exists and it’s as damaging as any other body dysmorphia,” says Professor David Veale, of King’s College London, an authority on health anxieties. “These men might seek out surgery, and for a few months they will be happy with the results. But then the same anxieties reappear. So, they seek out further surgery. It becomes a circle. But you cannot keep making your penis bigger. This requires therapy.”
In 1928, former President William Howard Taft confronted this issue as a Supreme Court justice. The court had taken the case of famous Seattle bootlegger Roy Olmstead, a onetime police lieutenant who set up a thriving trade in alcohol during Prohibition. Olmstead operated quite openly in Seattle, eventually becoming one of the area's largest employers. He had an office downtown complete with six telephone lines to take orders for booze.
This led to short-terms gains but long-term problems. Angry customers, unable to get satisfaction from Berkeley, went to their credit card companies instead. Berkeley's "chargeback" ratio went through the roof as customers disputed charges and banks took money back from Berkeley, putting the company's very ability to accept credit cards in jeopardy. (Payment processors would have cut off Berkeley if more than one percent of its transactions were chargebacks).
Instead of furtively turning to untested methods, men with persistent concerns should consider opening up about them with their doctors. That's because performance problems sometimes act as an early warning signal for serious health problems. Your doctor might be able to prescribe something that can really help, or least provide a valuable dose of perspective about what constitutes "normal" sexual performance.