There’s a pretty simple algorithm to help men determine whether they should send a picture of their wang to another person.
Doesn’t seem that difficult, does it?
My First (Unsolicited) Dick Pic
My first unsolicited dick pic (UDP) was from a guy I’d gone on one date with a year before.
“Wanna see a picture of my dick?” he texted. “Nope.” “But it’s like, artistic.”
What could this possibly mean in a dick-pic context? A Pointillist dick?
A melting Dali dick?
A van Gogh, lopped off from the rest of his body?
Did he think that would be his in? That I’d reply “oh, cool, I love that rad David statue with his weenus all flagrant-hot, press send, boo!””
When I said no, he sent it anyway. And there it was, a (frankly unartful) picture of a ginger-pubed dick.
When I expressed my disgust, he followed up with “It was an accident!”
Like, a butt-dial? Except his nimble dick had hit the flash, taken the photo and sent it to me?
Months later, I made a joke about dating on Twitter. A guy from the UK publicly replied with a photo, allegedly of himself, holding his dick in one hand and making a peace sign with the other. Cause, like, it’s harassment, but real chill harassment? When I retweeted it and some of my followers started giving him what-for, he began making up name after name to harass me, calling me a whore and telling me I should get raped and die (you know, standard-issue misogynist hatred. SO BORING.)
And the big question that popped into my head was:
These weren’t cases where you could argue there was a misunderstanding of signals. I had absolutely, explicitly said no to Guy #1. I had done nothing to give guy #2 the idea that I wanted a dick pic. One was someone I knew. One was a stranger. Yes, on the most basic level, I get it. They were getting off on it. On what level? If sexual assault is about power, then here’s a way to exert that power without ever having to look your victim in the eye.
It’s creepy, but we laugh at it. We don’t laugh at the r-word. (I am scared to even write it out). So why are we laughing at the dick-pic epidemic?
I mean, I get it, in a way. I’m a comic. I want to take the shitty things that happen and laugh at them. And yeah, cause the Van Gogh dick is kinda funny. Divorced from a person it loses a lot of if its power to be attractive OR intimidating. But when you think about the intent of the person behind the dick, that’s when it turns scarier. “I didn’t give a shit how you felt. I just wanted to get turned on.”
I asked guys what they thought drove this behavior. But none of them copped to sending a pic of their own, unsolicited. They all eschewed any sort of attempt at complex psychology for “the guy wants to get off. He thinks you might be into his dick, but even if you aren’t, he’s turned on by it.” And yes, I know, men are more visually aroused and all that good stuff that we already know. (My psych background: Dropped out halfway through psych grad school to pursue comedy.)
Cognitive neuroscientist Ogi Ogas corroborates the “well, uh, he just wants to” theory in Salon:
“Men who send off penis pictures probably aren’t thinking at all, they’re responding to an unconscious, evolutionary urge likely inherited from our primate ancestors: male monkeys and apes routinely display their penis (usually erect) to females to indicate sexual interest.”
OK, great, I get it, we’re all animals, we’re slightly more evolved apes. But that’s not an excuse for dick-pic-ing any more than it’s excuse for any other sort of sexual harassment or assault. If a guy whipped out his dick in person, most people would feel justified in calling the police and reporting it, whether or not they did. There’s no real facility for reporting getting dick-picced. It’s not even really an idea in our culture. But as the guy who got angry and started sending me threats on Twitter shows, this can escalate quickly.
Maybe I am focused on the why when I should be focused on this: how do we stop it? Recent anti-rape campaigns have focused on educating men. Is it time for the first anti-unsolicited-dick-pic campaign? There’s just no female equivalent. No unsolicited clit pics.
Men should remember the same rule that applies to consent in ANY situation, sexual or otherwise: just ask.
Regardless of the “why.”