Ask any woman who has used an online dating site if she’s ever been the recipient of an unsolicited dick pic and the answer, overwhelmingly will be yes. The scenario usually plays out something like this: You’re exchanging text messages, he seems like a cool guy, you’re even thinking a date could be in the offing and then out of the blue, without any prompting, he sends you a picture of his schlong.
Responses from the recipients generally include shock, embarrassment (for the sender), and confusion. Confusion as to what on earth possessed him to send you such a picture in the first place? This is the question that many women are asking and it’s also the first question that we put to our expert, psychologist, sex therapist, and author Dr. David Ley.
What is going on in a guy’s head when he sends an unsolicited picture of his genitals?
Like any sexual or social behaviour, there are a myriad of reasons and individual variations within people. The varied reasons include:
• The guy thinks it’s sexy, and that the woman will enjoy it, just as the guy would enjoy it if a woman sent an unsolicited genital pic to him. Within the gay male community, unsolicited dick pics are sent and enjoyed by many men, with little outcry or concern.
• Some men fear rejection about their penis, and are trying to get any possible rejection out of the way, in advance;
• Some men who do this just really enjoy the shock and outrage they and their penis can generate. They are turned on by that reaction, and it genuinely makes them feel like their penis is a powerful thing, to create this level of upset.
• And some men send dick pics just to be, well, dicks.
Some men who do this just really enjoy the shock and outrage they and their penis can generate
Would it be accurate to conclude that the motivating factors have very little to do with the recipient?
Depends. As in the list above, the recipient’s experience and reaction, whether real or imagined, is often a factor. But, it generally has more to do with the sender’s fantasy of what the female recipient will think or experience, as opposed to what the woman is likely to actually feel. The big problem here is that men just don’t often understand how women experience these images and that women are not used to images of penises. We routinely see nude women in the media, but nude men are rare, and seeing penises in the media is rare enough that it generates a scandal, a la The Full Monty.
Even though men and women are now routinely sharing nude pictures, why aren’t women engaging in this particular practice at the same level as men?
In fact, research shows that a large percentage of people, even a majority at different age groups, ARE sharing nude and explicit images. Including women. In younger groups, sharing such images is becoming a part of modern techno-flirting. But, the difference appears to lie in the timing. Females are more likely to share pics with someone they know or are getting to know. Men share pics much earlier in the process. Women seem to integrate the pics sharing in a more verbally mediated flirting process, asking “Would you like to see some pics of me?” Whereas many men may be more likely to simply send them, often because they misread cues from the female, as interest.
Females are more likely to share pics with someone they know or are getting to know
Are men who send unsolicited dick pics, the cyber equivalent of flashers, or are there fundamental differences?
It’s a heterogeneous group – some men doing this are cyber-flashers, but not all. I believe it most likely that the largest group of men sending unsolicited dick pics are not intending to engage in the equivalent of assault, seeking that outrage and violation. Instead, these men are more often working from a place of ignorance and confusion. Because they as men would enjoy such pictures, and because there ARE women out there who do enjoy receiving the pictures, the men inaccurately read cues of sexual interest. Men, notoriously, misperceive cues of sexual interest, always in the direction of over-estimation. This is likely a reflection of that.
What is the best way to handle an unrequested and unwanted dick pic?
Remembering that some men enjoy the outrage and are seeking that and that other men, perhaps most, are coming from a place of misreading the cues, I think the best response is a simple: “Not interested.”
David Ley PhD.
Ethical Porn for Dicks: A Man’s Guide to Responsible Viewing Pleasure is now available to buy on Amazon