Why Are Men Still Sending Unsolicited Dick Pics?
If you're a woman using online spaces, the likelihood you've received an unsolicited dick pic is probably high. Known as cyber-flashing, these nonconsensual photos show up in your dating profile inbox, via AirDrop or anywhere else you could receive online messages. Cyber-flashing isn't exactly the same as being flashed in the outside world, though it can be just as disturbing. Laws in the United States are playing catch-up with technology, and as it stands today, only Texas has cyber-flashing laws on the books. Others are using existing laws to prosecute people who send their unsolicited dick selfies to others.
What some men who participate in this phenomenon don't seem to understand is that by sending nude photos without consent, you're participating in a form of assault. They could even, unknowingly, be sending their member to a minor, which is even more serious.
Why photograph your junk?
A 2020 study, published in the Journal of Sex Research surveyed 1,087 straight men ages 16 to 92. Participants were divided about equally between men who had previously sent an unsolicited dick pic (48 percent) and those who had not (52 percent).
Unsurprisingly, the majority of men in the category that had sent the photos were younger, unmarried and likely to be in casual relationships. They also tended to have an inflated sense of self-worth and a need to be admired by others. These men scored higher in both hostile sexism and benevolent sexism. When asked why they sent the photos, 44 percent stated they hoped to get a photo in return, 33 percent stated they hoped to find a sexual or romantic partner, and about 18 percent said they did it for personal gratification.
I recently spoke to two men in an effort to understand their logic in texting a photo of their dick. John, 33, a mental health advocate in the U.K., spoke to me about the one instance he sent a photo without the consent of the receiving party, saying, "I was just talking to my friend as we speak every day, and I felt in a real good place, like hyper, and I impulsively sent them a pic of my D. It wasn't the fact it was my D, [but] it was just a buzz I got from sending it."
John was 20 years old at the time and said his youth had a lot to do with the choice to send the photo. His friend was shocked by his behavior, noting they didn't understand why he would choose to send a picture of his dick when they never had any type of sexual relationship. He has never sent another unsolicited dick pic, as this ruined a childhood friendship and made him see how wrong it is.
Keith, a 52-year-old man in the U.S., told me he sends them fairly regularly. When asked why, he said it makes him feel good about himself and his body to know others are viewing it. I wondered why he felt this needed to be done in a nonconsensual manner, when there are other options, and he told me it's just the way he prefers to do it. That way, it's with people he doesn't know, thus is unbothered by their opinion.
'It is not illegal to do this stuff to a woman online. Men can harass women online. And sexually intimidate women online.'
While many men seem to think this is okay and don't understand how disturbing it can be, women are speaking out against the trend. Yael Wolfe, a sex-positive writer and advocate from Oregon, recently received an unsolicited dick pic for the first time. Wolfe often shares body-positive nude photography of herself within her articles and newsletters. However, these images aren't meant to be sexual, as she's stated a number of times. One of her readers took this as an invitation to share a photo of his penis, and based on his comments within the email, he felt he was sharing "same for same," though he didn't ask permission.
"Imagine a stranger flashing their genitals at you in public," Wolfe stated. "Again, I think most people agree this is abusive, inappropriate behavior. And again, it's illegal. But guess what? It is not illegal to do this stuff to a woman online. Men can harass women online. And sexually intimidate women online. And send unsolicited dick pics to personal and professional email accounts and/or social media direct messages."
In such a connected world, cyber-flashing is growing as an acknowledged issue. Until laws catch up with the fast-paced world of technology, people will remain feeling unsafe. If you're thinking of sending an unsolicited dick pic, don't. Not only could you be breaking the law in your state, but you're discomforting and assaulting a person in more ways than you may realize. There are better ways to safely share your photos, and they all begin with consent.