In the first documented case of “spam rage,” in 2003, Silicon Valley engineer Charles Booher was arrested on a $75,000 bail for threatening the owner of an internet advertising company that repeatedly sent him ads for “the only reliable, medically approved penis enhancement” on the market. The owner of the advertising company, Douglas McKay, to whom Booher threatened to mail anthrax spores, denied sending the ads, claiming they came from a Russian competitor trying to discredit his direct-to-consumer advertising business.
Spam rage lawsuits were part of the inevitable growing pains of a burgeoning advertising and product market in penis anxiety; a market offering harder, larger, longer-lasting penises to men increasingly concerned about the size and efficacy of their manhood. The last twenty years have seen this market in technologies for penile enlargement and hardness grow ever more tumescent. The market has moved, along with other sex-adjacent industries, from red light districts and mail order forms to ubiquitous and targeted internet marketing. What makes the marketing of bigger, harder dicks stand out today, however, is not simply its prevalence but also the way in which it capitalizes on specific male anxieties.