Content note: this post is pretty gender binary, and doesn't discuss the perspectives of the many different sexualities out there. That's not to erase them, it's to deliberately generalise the content in order to make it relatable.
Some of you might have noticed the thread of polls I ran this week on my Twitter feed, asking about people's experiences with giving and receiving dick pictures. Obviously this isn't a totally reliable form of data collection, but it's good to display the general trend of how women feel receiving dick pics, and what behaviours men engage in when sending them. In typical fashion, I have done way too much research on this and now you're going to get a wordy blog post. Not sorry. To make this post as clear as possible, and because it's very hard to find research on genderqueer and non-binary people (hard enough to find out why unsolicited dick pics exist), I will be exclusively talking about this issue in terms of men and women. Sources for my readings can be found at the bottom of this post.
Here's what the polls suggested (including only the results that aren't "show results" answers):
Q1: When do you like dick pics? (179 votes)
58.3% "Literally never" --- 32.4% "From partners, not clients" --- 9.3% "From anyone"
That gives you a total of 41.7% of women who like dick pics - but most of them only want them when there's an established personal relationship. The majority of women don't want dick pics at all.
Q2: Do you ever ASK for dick pics? (74 votes)
25.7% "Yes" --- 58.1% "No" --- 16.2% "Only if there's body [included in the image] too"
Presumably the 41.9% of women who ask for dick pics (pretty close to the last figure of 41.7%) also only want them from partners. A good chunk of women - ~39% - only care about receiving a dick pic if you've made an effort to include the rest of your body.
Q3: Do you appreciate close up dick shots? (71 votes)
18.3% "Yes" --- 81.7% "No"
Pretty overwhelming evidence here for "make some effort with your cock shots and compose the image".
Q4: Do you like random, unsolicited dick pics? (76 votes)
11.8% "Yes" --- 88.2% "No"
So nine people responded and said yes, but I got no DMs or comments explaining why even though I asked for them. But here are the results anyway - most women do not want unsolicited dick pics. I do know that some like getting them because people make it honestly too easy to track down their family members on social media and then send screen shots to their parents/wives and ask if that's how they were raised. So either those nine people have a very specific kink, or they enjoy the schadenfreude of having people get in trouble from their loved ones - or, possibly, trolls. Open to other theories though.
Q1: Have you ever sent a dick pic? (121 votes)
33% "Yes" --- 67% "No"
This probably explains all the very defensive men who claim "ugh I don't know why men do this" when you talk about unsolicited dick pics you receive. So if you are sitting with two other men, statistically, one of you sends dick pics to a woman, whether he knows her or not, unsolicited or not.
Q2: If yes, was it solicited (asked for) or not? (47 votes)
68.1% "Yes" --- 23.4% "No" --- 8.5% "I've done both"
So, roughly 32% of dick pic senders send them to women who haven't bloody asked for them. Get eight straight male friends together with yourself. One of you sends dick pics to women who don't want them. On the plus side, most of you only send them when you're asked, which is nice.
Q3: If you send them, do you make an effort to pose/send more than JUST a dick? (39 votes)
53.8% "Yes" --- 33.3% "No, I hate my body" --- 12.9% "No, I'm lazy"
I'm doubting this one slightly, because the dick pics myself and most women I know have received are poorly composed. Certainly more than half manage to contain some belly and legs, but they're not artistically posed shots like women send, they're just "a slightly wider angle of my dick". I think the bar for "more than just dick" is set quite low. It's upsetting that a third of you hate your body so much that you'd rather just send a cock shot, and it speaks to wider issues of body positivity in male spaces. And the five lazy blokes? Haha, thank you for being honest.
Q4: For those who send UNSOLICITED dick pics, do you expect a positive response? (21 votes)
61.9% "Yes" --- 9.5% "No, it's about my kink" --- 28.6% "No, it's about power"
Ooooh boy. This one is the most revealing poll yet. 62% of you are arrogant/oblivious enough to believe that a woman likes your random dick pic; that's alright, I guess, since this should presumably be easy to fix with education. Some of the reading material I looked at really demonstrated this arrogance quite well, with in person interviews. 10% of you don't care whether they like it or not because it's about your kink - which, okay, unethical, but at least honest. But 29% of you are doing it because of the feeling of power it gives you, and that is why it's illegal, because it's an intimidation tactic.
Both sexes send nude images, but it seems that women mostly send them only when asked. There's obviously the fun societal stigma of women who are sexually open or make first moves being "sluts" and looked at with disdain, but there's more to it than that. Most men fundamentally misunderstand female sexuality, and instead project their own sexual desires onto women - they assume that because they would like to receive a random image of female genitalia, women would be totally interested in a disembodied dick in their inbox. This is confirmed by looking at the gay male community, where dick pics are received positively and responded to in kind. Some women have attempted to turn the tables, which backfired magnificently - a woman in Los Angeles decided to send 40 men on the dating app Bumble a close up picture of a random vulva she found on the internet. Of those 40, 37 responded, well, positively... See for yourself! (No dick pics in this link!)
One theory behind this suggests that it's because men are attracted to primary and secondary sex characteristics, but women are mostly attracted to just secondary ones. Primary sex characteristics are the organs themselves (the genitalia), while secondary sex characteristics are the obvious things that mark the change from child to adult - pubic hair, breast development, widened hips, more defined facial structure, body hair and muscular development due to testosterone, overall change in body shape. It's easy to see that demonstrated in the two most popular forums on reddit for each sex's amateur nude images: r/gonewild and r/ladybonersgw (I should not have to warn you - these are really not safe to look at at work). The former has many close ups of straight up genitalia (vast majority female), but the latter has rules which expressly forbid this (male only). Instead, submitters are encouraged to include their bodies in inventive poses that showcase their best aspects, not just a cock in a hand, though they are allowed to include full nudity. Each of these forums are perused by gay members of the same sex, absolutely, but the rules were written with the straight viewer in mind.
Another theory is that men's identity hinges on their penises. They make dick jokes, they draw dicks on everything, they play with them at every opportunity when they're young. As they grow older, they certainly still do all these things (believe me, I work in an office with a majority of late 40s men, and they still draw dicks on things), but not as openly. Because who they are as a man rests upon their functional penis - well, they send pictures of it to women they'd like approval from. One of the worst things a man can think of happening to him is losing his dick - or having it shrink, or stop functioning. Men who are perceived to be cowards are called "dickless", "softcocks", or "pussies", men who have large egos are said to be compensating for small penises, and men are encouraged to "sack up" or "grow some balls" if they are afraid to do something. Basically, so much of their lives and expected traits are centred around what's in their pants, especially compared to women.
In this day and age, where multiple online campaigns have been launched to tell men that no, we don't fucking want to see some random dude's dick, there is hardly a valid reason to be ignorant. So that brings me to our third reason - arrogance, power fantasies, and exhibitionism. Many men get a sexual kick out of making women feel disgusted or angry, or they enjoy it when a woman humiliates their manhood, or they want to establish power over a woman symbolically by making her look at them. This is a subset of exhibitionist fantasies - whether it be making vulgar calls, sending graphic messages, flashing someone on the street, masturbating in a train. These fantasies are fine to have, but not to act upon outside of with professionals or in an established reltionship. Consent should always be paramount, and acting upon these urges violates the consent of the person who must look. In fact, there are laws around this: the 1997 Telecommunications Act states it is a "criminal offence to use a carriage service to harass, offend or intimidate another person"; and sending unsolicited pornographic content falls under this quite neatly.
Now, this whole post isn't to say that women don't like receiving dick pics at all - we do. But, huge caveat, and I'm going to emphasise this so even people on the moon can see it: only if we asked for them or we are in a relationship where consent is implied. Women who like men love dick, but not strange, unfamiliar dick that shoves its way into her life through her "filtered" or "request" inbox. Many women ask for them, as demonstrated by those Twitter polls. But they prefer it if a little effort and creativity has gone into them - disembodied dicks rarely do it for most women. Really, just think before you send. Don't do it without being asked, and try to make an effort to include more than just your dick; even if you hate your body, she probably doesn't.
Here's the Twitter poll that kicked it off.
Sources I read for this blog:
I know these aren't all journal articles, but it is very hard to find legitimate research on this very niche topic. If I didn't have two jobs and study in a very unrelated field to do, maybe I'd have some more time to dedicate to research on dick pics - clearly the topical issue of today!
Obvious biases to my data collection: I framed the questions without a hell of a lot of thought in the bath one Sunday; the respondents are mostly sex workers (female) or clients/pretend clients (male) due to my Twitter following; this was a Twitter poll, so no way to know if answers are honest or even from the genders they're directed at, and naturally the subsequent tweets in any thread usually receive less exposure and therefore less reponses. Probably a few more that I'm missing! I shouldn't bother to add this little disclaimer, but inevitably some know it all bloke is going to whine because he doesn't like the results, or really needs to find a reason to "correct" me. I've predicted you, buddy. Don't bother.
Edit 30th April 2018: So it turns out there is now the world's first researcher on dick pics! Looky here! Andrea Waling from LaTrobe university in Melbourne is now researching dick pics as a phenomenon of the male psyche. I'm gonna send her this blog. Hi Andrea!