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Why do men send dick pics?

Ella Braidwood April 20, 2018

Ah, the unsolicited dick pic. Close-ups of unwanted penises are a staple of so many of our lives, whether they are sliding into Twitter DMs, or in messages on Tinder and Grindr.

As it turns out, visual representations of penises have been doing the rounds for thousands of years. In the Roman era, the dick was a symbol of fertility, and phallic images commonly decorated murals, mosaics and paintings on the streets of Pompeii.

More recently, the unsolicited dick pic has become more problematic.

It became a focus of the trial of former US congressman Anthony Weiner, who was sentenced to 21 months in jail for sending images of himself to an underage girl. The trial became emblematic of the wider problem with dick pics.

In fact, the issue has become so widespread that some publications have taken to publishing articles advising people on how to deal with dick pics.

But why, why do men send these images of their junk without being asked?

We spoke to the experts.

Related: Penis whitening is the bizarre new trend gripping the gay community

The discourse surrounding dick pics (Twitter)

Sexual attention

According to Peter Saddington, a counsellor and sex therapist at Relate, a charity that provides sex and relationship advice, men generally send photos of their junk in a bid for sexual attention.

“This is a complex issue, but often the reason for sending these photos is to attract attention – primarily in a sexual way,” he explains.

Saddington says that, for men the penis is a “potent symbol of maleness as well as power.”

He adds: “Some men can become excited by the idea of sharing a photo of this intimate part of themselves, and may incorrectly assume that the person receiving it will be equally excited.”

Dr Thaddeus Birchard, a clinical director at the Marylebone Centre for Psychological Therapies, also agrees that men consider their penis as a “symbol of masculinity and power.”

Because of this, “men imagine that it will be attractive to women.” (This also applies to other men). Birchard says: “Sending such a photo is really saying ‘look at me in my prowess.’”

This theory rings true with the accounts provided by some self-confessed dick pic senders.

In an article for The Debrief, one dick pic sender, called Tim, says: “I always looked for people close by home, I think the ultimate goal was to get them so aroused that they would want me to come over and have the hottest night of pure desire and lust we ever had.”

Image credit: Jhaymesisviphotography/Flickr

Related: This is where you can find Britain’s largest penises

Male dating psychology

In an article for Psychology Today, Dr David Ley, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist, argues that men send images of their genitalia because they themselves would be happy to receive such photos – and they apply this logic on to other people.

“Men love the idea of receiving such pictures from strangers, and they assume women do too,” he explains. This assumption would also be true of other men.

“Men notoriously misperceive women’s sexual interest in them and project their own sexual interests and desires onto women.”

Ley adds that the male dating psychology is steeped in “boldness.” In contrast, he says, there is a “social suppression of female sexuality.”

“Both males and females are commonly sending nudes of themselves to people they meet online, but women tend to wait until asked,” he writes. “The fact is, women are told that being sexually bold in such a manner is shameful and makes them a slut.”

Ley even goes as far as to say that some men are aroused by the negative reaction to dick pics. “It is the woman’s disgust and rejection which is actually part of the turn-on,” he says.

And Birchard argues that these men are often unaware of the trauma and damage they can cause by sending such images – instead thinking of it as a form of courting.

He says: “I have had cases of this happening, with one man prosecuted for harassment with intent to harm. This includes psychological harm. He thought he was just flirting.”

Gay men and dick pics

Ley goes on to write that on gay male dating sites unsolicited dick pics are frequently exchanged, which he believes provides evidence that some men, unlike women, do want to receive these images themselves.

“It’s important to note that within gay male circles, this behavior is very common, and is not viewed as a problem,” he explains, although this theory is arguably oversimplified as many gay men do not enjoy receiving the pictures either.

Despite this, Ley continues to say that “many men are happy to get such pictures, and usually respond in kind.

“That’s important, because it offers some confirmation that many men want to receive such pics, and are really hoping their recipient will enjoy it and be turned on.”

Related: Study reveals that people you send d*ck pics to, show their friends

Advice for those receiving unsolicited dick pics

While Saddington stresses that unwanted dick pics provoke “mixed responses,” he does have some advice for those that are offended by the images.

“If it’s somebody you don’t know, I would always suggest taking this to the police,” he says.

“If you know the person, for example via a dating site or through friends, you could explain to them that this isn’t something you’re into and that you’d appreciate it if they didn’t send any photos again.”

He continues: “If they persist, treat it as a breach of privacy and trust and warn them you’ll go to the police.”

Saddington, however, says that people receiving unasked for dick pics should act with caution when it comes to exposing the perpetrator on the internet.

“Some people take the approach of naming and shaming the person online but this can open you up to retaliation from the person who sent the photos or from trolls so is probably best avoided,” he explains.

Birchard, meanwhile, says that those who receive unwanted dick pics should simply “delete and block the sender.”

This is also the safest response if you feel the sender could in any way be unpleasant, as it proves you aren’t complicit with his actions.

For men wanting to address their unwanted behaviour, both Relate and the Marylebone Centre for Psychological Therapies also offer courses and advice to help stop these actions.

Dick pics aren’t a new phenomena

For Saddington, sending unsolicited dick pics is nothing new. “Throughout history there are stories of men showing their penises – the invention of phone cameras has just made it much easier,” he says.

And, he says, new generations must be taught about sending such explicit images – especially when they haven’t been asked for.

“It’s important that we teach children from an early age about consent and privacy including when using phones.

“Making sure children and young people understand about this subject should be a key area of focus in relationships and sex education.”

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