Unsolicited advances that are sexual in nature are faced by people of various genders, but women in particular seem to be on the receiving end of it. The violation of consent is present not just offline, but on cyberspace too. Anybody with access to social media is capable of unsolicited advances. Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, emails or for that matter even dating portals such as Tinder, have become a platform for the creeps of the world to make their presence felt.
The idea of an unsolicited dick pic is similar to flashing a person’s genital organs – only here it’s through a photograph. However, as I interviewed my girlfriends about unsolicited dick pics they received, I discovered that I’d internalised a bias in preparing my sample size. One of my female friends responded by saying “I haven’t gotten one, but my husband has!” I’d assumed women to be the natural recipients of dick pics, but I realised that many men were too.
However, while women recipients of dick pics are treated with sympathy and concern, men who receive them face amusement and ridicule – a reflection of how male victims of sexual harassment are not taken seriously at all.
So why do men feel entitled to sending photographs of their junk, even when they haven’t been asked for? Some flashers say they’re “turned on” or that they do it to indicate that they could “keep you very happy” with the size they have to offer or a straight out “I want to have sex with you” – a reason given to one of my guy friends. Sending unsolicited dick pics reek of male entitlement, where men believe that they have the right to show people their genitalia even when unasked for, and also believe that said recipients are happy to receive them!
When Jainy confronted one of the random men who sent unsolicited dick pics on Tinder, his response was “I do it a lot and sometimes get a positive response from women for the upfront behaviour”. Most men do not provide reasons for their behaviour and most women usually tend to block them, in case the person is unknown, or unfriend them, in case it is a friend.
Just like many rapes aren’t reported, these instances of sexual harassment too go unreported. There is so much shame and victim blaming in our society, that most women think it is better not to share with anyone as they will be subjected to numerous instances of shaming and victim blaming, such as “Why did you add him?”, “You must have shared your number”, among others.
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Where some women ignore it, some have had enough. Take the case of Whitney Bell put up an exhibition of 150 unsolicited dick pics that she and women she knew had received, or Sonali Mushahary, who decided her perpetrator Sachin Jain, needed to be given a taste of his own medicine, so she shared his details on a social networking site.
When people in a mutual relationship based on understanding and consent engage in sexting, it is their personal business. “If consenting adults share such pictures with each other it is okay. But any stranger sharing any of that with others is not cool,” says Ronika. However, when the photographs arrive unasked for, they can be a revolting experience for the receiver. When Ritika received an unsolicited dick pic, her immediate response was “It made me cringe, I wanted to slap the guy! It took me some time to get over it.” Tashi, who made an accidental turn into a website full of dick pics said that “It damages me, for what you see stays in the memory”. Others who had the unfortunate experience of an unsolicited dick pics described their reactions as ‘disgusted’, ‘shocked’, ‘confused’, ‘horrible’, ‘uncomfortable’, among others.
Violation of consent is a phenomenon that is practised both in the offline and online worlds.
What one needs to understand is that when you send someone an unsolicited dick pic, you violate their consent. The shared content could be obscene, offensive and traumatising to them. People who send it on the basis of mutual consent are then responsible for their own actions, like Neha, who talked about her experience of sharing personal photos in a mutually consensual relationship, “I did not feel quite good actually. Kind of disliked my action. Not a happy feeling as an afterthought.” However, since it was something done with consent she was prepared to deal with it.
When you bring up the discussion about unsolicited dick pics, there will always be someone mentioning “But you don’t talk about how women send boob pics”. If boob pics are erotic, and women can show off their breast, bar nipples, and their cleavage, then what is so gross about dick pics or a little visibility of the penis?
In an article by Arre, these 4 women are talking about dick pics and boob pics:
“Me: Dick pics are just not the same as say a boob pic. They don’t evoke the same feeling. Vin: Why? What’s the difference?
Eva: One is art, the other is just hairy balls.
Me: One is erotic beauty and the other Donald Trump”
While I can take this as a lighthearted conversation between a group of girls, I can’t help but notice what’s wrong in this context too. Every ‘body’ created is beautiful, but not everyone is comfortable to see another person’s body, especially without consent! The matter at hand is about consent, not about a comparison of body parts, and their appeal on the basis of gender identity. Nor does it make sense to debate on the aesthetics of the human body.
What one needs to understand is that when you send someone an unsolicited dick pic, you violate their consent.
In my attempt of finding out if the ‘trend’ of receiving unsolicited dick pics is only a Western issue, I determined two things. First, it is very much a thing that happens in India too. With the responses I received, it was clear that people around me were receiving such unsolicited content, it’s not just limited to the West. Second, boys/men are recipients of unsolicited pictures as well – a phenomenon that is not taken as seriously as it should be. Some men reacted to my questions by asking, “Why would I be sent a dick pic?”, to which I had to share other people’s experiences.
The only point I came to in the end was, sext away people! Feel as liberated you wish to with your sexual desires, just do not take away someone’s liberty, don’t force it on another person. Consent, is of utmost importance.
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Featured Image Credit: Daily Emerald