Have you ever sent a dick pic?

Dick pics from the sender’s perspective

A while back, I put out a call to guys who have sent a picture of their penis to someone without being asked first, whether in a sext, over social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, or on a dating site, and to guys who have used a penis as their profile picture. I wanted to understand their motivation, what response they expected to get, and what response they actually received.

The majority of responses were from guys saying, ‘I haven’t sent an unsolicited dick pic, but I think this is why other guys do…’ and from women who have received dick pics, offering their hypotheses as to the sender’s motivation. There were far fewer responses from guys who admitted to doing so and were willing to share their stories.

During this period of investigation, I also queried any guy who happened to send me an unsolicited dick pic about their motives, but the senders tended to disappear very quickly.

This got me wondering, why all the shyness and secrecy? It’s something plenty of people do, as evidenced by the number of people who receive them—there is even a Tumblr devoted to critiquing them—but not something many own up to.

Within the context of consensual sexy chat or sexting, dick pics can be very welcome, but often they come as a surprise, and not necessarily a pleasant one. When unexpected—and unwanted—receiving a dick pic can feel like being flashed at. It certainly isn’t a sexy experience, and can be quite uncomfortable.

Is it that guys don’t want to own having made someone feel that way? Is there embarrassment or shame admitting that, actually, she didn’t want the dick pic you sent, or that it wasn’t met with the desired response?

I also wondered how many guys realise the pics they send aren’t in fact welcome. Perhaps few identified with the proviso of my enquiry for unsolicited pics?

Lastly, I wondered if some senders intend something more sinister or offensive when they expose themselves to unsuspecting women, a motive they don’t want to admit to?

Though keen to investigate some more, I decided to collate the responses I have received so far into six main categories in the hope of rousing a conversation about what is really going on for the guys who send unsolicited dick pics.

1. ‘I’ve shown you mine, now show me yours’

These are the guys who want to prompt a similar nude response from the recipient.

One respondent wrote, ‘I found out a sexy girl I follow on Twitter was advertising her Snapchat username so without prior contact I took a photo of my dick and sent it to her. I was motivated by her sexiness and I hoped it would lead to some topless pictures in return.’

This kind of thinking is indicative of the ‘I’ll do for you so that you’ll do for me’ mentality that pervades many people’s sex lives, and in some cases, entire relationships. It is not about giving, but giving in order to receive. I’m not a fan of this approach to relationships, and in the case of unsolicited dick pics, it rarely achieves its objective.

In this case, the picture missed its mark and made the sender ‘feel like a loser afterwards.’

‘I know she wouldn’t talk to me face-to-face but at least with anonymous contact there was a chance. She replied and said it was small with a laughing/crying emoji. Pretty much what I expected in return as it’s the truth and a typical response from a female who isn’t interested in receiving these pictures.’

2. ‘It will turn her on’

These guys assume that because they enjoy looking at explicit images, the recipient will too.

In this case, the sender is hoping for a response like:

Meet Madison Missina -- porn star and escort

But may end up with one like:

Is it okay to poke fun at an ex-friend's social media?

This thinking highlights differences in our socialisation and sexualisation, where men are encouraged and expected to look at graphic nude images, but it falls flat when the recipient doesn’t feel the same.

In fact, some see unwanted male nudity as comical or even threatening (think sex offenders who use indecent exposure to shock and terrorise unsuspecting victims).

Context is important, and the sender can’t guarantee the context in which an unexpected dick pic will be received. For instance, one guy told me he sent a dick pic hoping to turn his (now ex-)girlfriend on, but felt embarrassed afterwards when he realised that the dick pic wasn’t welcome, and made him look foolish and creepy.

3. ‘I want to be noticed’

A number of men responded to say they had not sent an unsolicited dick pic, but assumed anyone who has feels insecure about their appearance and wants attention.

This seems to parallel the many women who post provocative selfies online for attention and validation. The difference is that society tends to objectify women, but not men, so while women often get the desired attention from this type of exhibitionism, men may not.

I’d love to see the dick pic phenomenon researched alongside the selfie-epidemic.

4. ‘My dick is my identity’

Among this group are those who use a dick pic as a profile picture on social media and/or dating sites. These guys seem to be saying, ‘this is the best I have to offer’, ‘this is all I am offering’ or ‘please objectify me’.

Again, no one admitted to doing this, but among the respondents were those who surmised that men who present their penis as their online image actually identify with their penis, and that this is how they want to be seen.

I would love to hear more from guys who have dicks as their only profile pics and what it means to them.

5. The angry penis

I stumbled upon this category of dick pick when I received an unsolicited cock picture from a stranger who had tried to befriend me online without success. I politely asked why he had sent the picture. His response? Because he was angry.

Dick pic

Firstly, no man or woman owes someone else a response, particularly not a stranger. Secondly, why is sending a picture of a penis an act of anger?

I kept asking the sender to explain, because I could not fathom his logic, but received no further insights.

Dick pic conversation

6. An act of violence

Among the responses I received (from dick pic recipients, not senders) were those who argued the unsolicited dick pic is a non-consensual act—really an act of violence, or violation—designed to make the recipient uncomfortable and exert power over them, equivalent to a ‘flasher’ committing indecent exposure.

I would say this is true for a certain percentage of senders whose online behaviour seems to mirror that of flashers in the street, and those who continue to send unwanted images knowingly.

The ‘angry’ penis example seems to be an instance of this darker motive. ‘If I can’t get the attention you owe me, I’m going to send you something to MAKE you respond.’) It shows intentional disregard for the receiver and intent to incite a negative response.

The research

I also searched the academic literature but didn’t find much about the practice of sending unsolicited dick pics. Most data looks at various forms of sexting, the consensual exchange of sexy images, and the non-consensual sharing of private pictures afterwards. Research on exhibitionism, meanwhile, is typically taken from among forensic and clinical populations, and among adults, the unsolicited dick pic isn’t really recognised as a crime or the result of a psychological condition.

For something that happens so frequently, we really don’t know much about guys’ motivations for sending unsolicited dick pics. I would like to see more research in this area among ordinary everyday men whom, for whatever reason, be it validation, reciprocation, arousal, to exert power, incite a response, or some other psychological need, send pictures of their genitals to women without asking or being asked.

In the meantime, if you’re thinking of getting down and dirty and want to send a picture of your man-handle, always ask first.

Have you ever sent a dick pic unasked? Do these reasons resonate with you, or did you have a different motive for sending a dick pic or using your dick as a profile pic? What is your story? I’d love to hear from you (not your dick, please). Write me a message in the comments below or send an email.

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