Photo: Emily Bowler
It takes a certain type of man to send an unsolicited dick pic. Unfortunately, that type appears to be: somewhere between 50 to 70 percent of all men on Earth.Women famously do not enjoy receiving these grubby little photographs, yet men continue to send them. Which is sort of baffling. If a woman wants to see genitals, it’s not like she doesn’t have options – the entire internet, for example, or the chiselled micro-penis of an ancient Greek statue – but men seem to have forgotten this. Either that, or they believe we genuinely enjoy feasting our eyes on their loins. Spoiler alert: we do not.
Sadly, sexual harassment is nothing new – women have dealt with unwanted attention for literally centuries – but the invention of the smart phone gave men a handy new way to be massive creeps. So much so that, last week, a UK government review recommended that cyber-flashing should become a criminal offence.I should make it clear here that neither I nor that recommendation are talking about photos shared upon request, which can actually be both fun and sexy. I’m talking about the images many women reading this will be familiar with: when your phone pings and you’re confronted with a picture of a bare, typically erect penis (usually accompanied by a hand or a cursory prop to communicate scale) – or, if you’re really unlucky, a video – that you have not explicitly asked for.In my experience, these kinds of messages fall into three camps.
This is usually sent by your run-of-the-mill fuckboy. He’s likely someone you’ve hooked up with in the past, so of course that gives him the right to light up your phone months later with a grim phallic self portrait.By way of example, my most memorable Tier 1 photo came from someone I’d slept with months before the unsolicited dick pic (UDP) arrived. I’d known him when I was younger but hadn’t seen him for a while, and our encounter was fun enough. However, the next day I got message at work informing me that, actually, he had a girlfriend who he’d never cheated on before – which I find hard to believe – and could I keep our tryst to myself?
TIER 1: THE BASIC BITCH
Feeling sick, I gave him a curt reply and promptly deleted his number. Weeks later, I received a message from a number I didn’t recognise: “Hey, what you up to?” Realising it was him, I offered a courteous but brief reply – then, moments later, a response: “Fancy coming over?”I told him in no uncertain terms that he should stop messaging me, and that was that. Until he messaged me again, and again, and then again, and then some more – always late night, always on the weekend. I stopped replying, hoping it would deter him, which it did for a while, until one Wednesday morning, when I was preparing to leave for work at approximately 6:30AM.At that moment, I opened my phone to find a photo of his large, erect penis, one filthy hand clutching the base, surrounded by detritus from what had obviously been a big Tuesday night.A really, really, incomprehensibly terrible vibe!
These are harder to predict, and so normally catch you off-guard. They usually come from someone you hardly know – say, off a dating app – or just complete strangers.I’ve heard of countless women receiving Blindsides in their social media inboxes, and over the last few years the British Transport Police have been recording more and more cases of men AirDropping them to people they’re sharing a bus or a train carriage with. Who knew public transport could inspire such a debased level of horniness.
TIER 2: THE BLINDSIDE
The Tier 2 experience that immediately springs to mind was one Tuesday morning during lockdown. I was just finishing an online workout when I checked my phone and saw I had a WhatsApp from “Alex B”. I could not recall who this man was, but helpfully it looked like he had sent me a photo. A selfie to jog my memory? A meme that we might share a laugh over together? No! A close-up of his shaft, gripped tightly inside his fist.Turns out Alex B was someone I’d met on Bumble nearly a YEAR before, never met up with, and exchanged no more than 20 messages with. It honestly astounds me how anyone can think this kind of behaviour is a) acceptable, b) welcomed, and c) likely to generate the kind of reception they’re after? Both disgusting and a massive self-own.
This is the most disappointing of all dick pics to receive, as typically it comes from someone you’re involved with romantically, but haven’t become intimate with yet.My most recent experience of the Tier 3 dick pic came from someone I started seeing last summer. We’d been on a couple of dates, but hadn’t done anything physical beyond kissing. One morning, during a WhatsApp exchange about how we were each planning to spend our day, he suddenly sent me a photo of himself, fresh out of the shower, wearing nothing but an open towel and a large grin, his penis staring me directly in the face.I couldn’t believe that someone I hadn’t even slept with – let alone seen naked – presumed it would be OK to fire off an unsolicited dick pic in the middle of a completely unrelated conversation. Worse still, I was actually growing to like him at that point. When I asked him why he felt it was an appropriate image to send, his reply was that he just “felt comfortable” with me. Ah, yes. Of course. Because it’s exclusively about how you feel.Suffice to say, that relationship didn’t go anywhere. While it wasn’t the dick pic that did it, I know it subconsciously had an impact. A few weeks before, he’d sent me a ridiculous picture of a perfectly manicured blonde waif dressed in nothing but an enormous red bow, accompanied by some mindless joke about his birthday approaching. I didn’t notice at the time, but when I started to get the ick my friend pointed out that “things really started to go downhill after the bow”. So, by the time the Tier 3 came along, there was probably no saving it.I know I’ve ranked each type of UDP in this article, but it goes without saying that any unwanted explicit image is vile, and can leave women feeling violated. The government is yet to comment on the recommendation to criminalise cyberflashing, but, for now, if we continue to call out this kind of gross behaviour, we can only hope – perhaps optimistically – that it might begin to fade away.On a final note, if there are any men reading this and thinking, ‘The girls I send unrequested photos of my penis to are into it, actually,’ let me be the one to break it to you: unless they asked for it explicitly, they are not.