Big Dick Energy — BDE to those unwilling or uncomfortable saying the full phrase out loud — emerged as a meme-ready description of Pete Davidson, the gangly and apparently well-endowed Saturday Night Live comedian dating singer and social media machine Ariana Grande. But BDE had more momentum than even the tabloid coverage of Davidson’s relationship with Grande. It took on a life of its own a prompted a generation of American men (and not a few women, it’s not really a gendered thing) to ask themselves the hardest question there is: Do I have Big Dick Energy? The answer, just to be clear, has nothing to do with male genitalia. BDE is a description of a certain sort of non-dickish confidence, an appealing self-contained swagger that accounts for some men who look like Davidson charming some women that look like Grande.
For parents, the issue of BDE is particularly pressing as their children’s confidence is — at least to a significant degree — a product of interactions that they control. Whether or not a child has BDE or (and this is a terrifying possibility) SDE, is largely a product of parenting decisions. And if that sounds ridiculous, which it does, please keep in mind that there’s some real, legitimate psychology at play here. BDE may be a meme, but it’s also a thing.
“We know that parents who are well adjusted and confident are more likely to raise children with similar characteristics,” says psychologist John D. Moore. “The same holds true for people with BDE.”
In other words, Moore is suggestion that there can be a sort of generational transference of BDE. The idea that one’s DE can be passed down in such a manner is likely greeted with indifference by those with BDE and concern by those with SDE. To assuage those concerns and to learn a bit more about how to give kids that internet-approved kind of swagger, Fatherly grilled Moore on the subject of bringing up kids with BDE.
What is Big Dick Energy from a psychological perspective?
The construct of BDE is more psychological than anything and has little to do with penis size. It’s more about channeling what many have come to call a man’s ‘Inner Alpha.’ Women indeed can have BDE and I would argue it is not that uncommon. Again, it’s not about size and girth. It’s about a mindset.
So is BDE not really about masculinity at all?
I think that because the acronym speaks to male anatomy, it naturally lends itself to the male side of things and by extension, masculinity. But, in truth, it really isn’t about manliness. Instead, it’s about independence and personal strength. It’s the person, man or woman, who follows the lead of Teddy Roosevelt, who famously coined the saying: ‘Walk softly and carry a big stick.’ People with BDE are metaphorically doing that. And their stick isn’t their anatomy. It’s their presence.
And what exactly is this mindset? How can it be developed?
If a person, regardless of gender, wants to develop BDE, the very first thing they need to focus their awareness around is their self-esteem. This means their self-concept and what they project to the outside world. BDE is what confident people put out to the world that sends the message, ‘I am who I am, take it or leave it.’ That’s not to say they are narcissists. Instead, they simply feel comfortable enough with their own personality to not let others influence their self-concept.
Many people who have BDE are quietly charismatic and magnetic. On the flipside, people who lack BDE are usually arrogant and obtuse. In fact, they likely have Small Dick Energy. One of the endearing aspects of people with BDE is their ability to be likeable and humble. It’s important for people hoping to develop these characteristics and grow them — no pun intended — to practice some amount of mindfulness about how they carry themselves.
Is there anything parents can do to raise kids who are more likely to have positive BDE traits, both boys and girls? What are some of these things?
What we are really talking about is encouraging confidence in kids. This means praising them when appropriate and reinforcing the delicate balance of pride and humility. While not a clinical personality characteristic, BDE is a metaphor for a well adjusted, assertive person — or a well adjusted, assertive child. Some may wonder if child-bullies have BDE. In truth, it is just the opposite.
Still, this feels at least in part like a conversation about male insecurity.
There is a difference between Big Dick Energy and Big Dick Syndrome. Specifically, I am talking about people who chase after men with enormous penises and create a halo effect around their anatomy, overlooking other traits of the individual which may be negative. Our culture is such that we have placed premium on size. What folks forget is that it’s not about the man’s bigness. Instead, it’s about who it is attached to.
And for dads who still may not entirely understand what Big Dick Energy is, but want to raise happy well-adjusted kids — do they need understand BDE in order to embody it?
No. One need not know what Big Dick Energy is in order to have it. That’s because BDE comes under other labels like ‘strong self-confidence’ and a good sense of self.