Sunday 30 November 2014

What's with all the penis pics in the papers lately? It's a cancer

Excuse my language, but it’s for a good cause.

No, that’s not a mistake. You’re not reading last week’s column again even though it started with the same line.

I’m just plagiarising myself, which I think it’s okay. It’s not like I’m plagiarising Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong.

This time, I’m asking you to excuse my language because I’m going to use the word “penis” a few times in this column.

And I’m not talking about the “ship name” for Peeta and Katniss from The Hunger Games.

Ready? Here goes.

Last week, newspaper readers in Singapore had penises coming out of our ears.

On Tuesday, there was a picture of a penis in The New Paper. On Wednesday, there was another penis picture in The Straits Times. There were penises everywhere!

This is notable because newspapers usually make it a point to avoid publishing pictures of penises. Newspapers don’t even like publishing the word “penis”.

So far this year, TNP has used the word only seven times. Since The Straits Times is a broadsheet and twice the size of TNP, The Straits Times has used the word twice as often — 14 times.

TNP should beat that number after my column today.

Not that it’s a competition.

In comparison, TNP has used the word “boobs” 55 times this year, handily beating The Straits Times’s 26 times.

Not that it’s a competition.

But it’s safe to say readers are much more used to seeing pictures of women’s cleavages than men’s penises in the newspaper.

So what news story could’ve prompted this sudden surge of penis appearances in our papers?

Was it the recent survey of 300 Singapore residents above the age of 25 that found that one third of them had sex less than once a month?

Dr Colin Teo, who heads Khoo Teck Puat Hospital’s Department of Urology, told The Straits Times that this is less than the once a week or once a fortnight frequency that most think is ideal.

“It could be due to stress, logistical issues like staying in a small home with kids and in-laws, or sexual dysfunction,” said Dr Teo.

Stress? Logistical issues? Sure.

But sexual dysfunction?

Isn’t it less embarrassing to simply admit that you’re having sex less than once a month simply because no one wants to sex with you?

But I guess having no sex is better than becoming like controversial “pick-up artist” Julien Blanc who has been banned from entering Singapore.

Or Bill Cosby.

Who has yet to be banned from entering Singapore. Someone should get an online petition going.

Speaking of sexual dysfunction, could the penis pictures have been used to illustrate erectile dysfunction since the guidelines on its treatment was recently announced by the Society of Men’s Health Singapore?

Or were the pictures related to news reports of men falling ill and even dying from taking illegal sex drugs to improve performance?

I bet you never realised there was so much penis-related news lately.

Fortunately, the reason for the penis pictures wasn’t as sordid as all that. They were actually used to explain prostate cancer.

As the prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system, to show what prostate cancer is, you have to show the penis, since it’s the most recognisable part of the male reproductive system.

Hence, the prick pics in the newspapers.

But why the need to explain prostate cancer in the first place?

Because last week, Emeritus Senior Minister and former prime minister Goh Chok Tong posted on Facebook that he was “back home after a successful and uneventful major operation” for prostate cancer.

Coincidentally, Mr Goh had his operation in November, the same month as Movember, the international fundraising campaign to promote men’s health, including fighting prostate cancer.

Movember is also the reason I haven’t shaved in the last 30 days. Since it will be December tomorrow, today is the last day you can donate by going to

See? I told you it’s for a good cause.

I’m all about the cause, about the cause — no stubble.

In another Facebook post, Mr Goh said that after the operation, his only discomfort was that he had not “broken wind” yet.

That was quite an explosive revelation.

Or perhaps the lack of explosiveness was the problem.

I wish someone can explain to me how prostate cancer surgery can cause him not to “break wind”.

If necessary, use a picture of a penis and an asshole.

It’s for a good cause.

And just to be sure... penis, penis penis!

Take that, Straits Times!

- Published in The New Paper, 30 November 2014