Despite my extensive and ongoing training as a sex therapist, there are still some aspects of human sexual behavior that perplex me. The phenomenon of the “dick pic” is one example. I’m intrigued that a relatively unpopular among women remains a favorite seduction strategy for men.
Source: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock
Sexting photos of one’s phallus are perhaps the climax of a dating strategy created by modern technology. Don’t get me wrong, such images have existed as long as cameras took photos. But the ability to freely and confidentially (in theory) send pictures of your genitals to mere acquaintances is a revolutionary development in social interactions.
Much to my surprise and considerable amusement, I discovered a whole scientific literature about such photographs when I researched this post. I was delighted to learn that the comments my clients made in the privacy of my therapy room were consistent with the conclusions of researchers. To sum it up, most ladies dislike and even disdain photos of genitals. Some women experience them as intrusive and disturbing, a form of sexual harassment. Yet they continue to be sent. Why?
To be fair, women tend to find most genital images unerotic or even distasteful. They don’t necessarily single out the penis for this honor. While feminists have for decades promoted vulvas as beautiful, and many women and cis males agree with this assessment, women in my therapy room don’t always find their own vulvas particularly appealing, nor those of other women. The point is that while women tend to accept genitals as part of an erotic package (no pun intended), images of the package itself aren’t generally the most successful route to getting a woman’s juices flowing.
Incidentally, this fun fact is supported by research measuring pupil movement and dilation when study subjects watch porn clips. When guys watch porn, they tend to laser-focus on genitals. In fact, they are equal-opportunity voyeurs in that they stare at both vulvas and penises more than females do. In contrast, women tend to focus on multiple aspects of the porn clip, including the setting, the apparent relationship between the actors, and the emotions being expressed, as well as genitals. So with porn as with sexted photos of the male organ, men seem to find images of genitals more compelling than women do.
Why are such pictures even a thing, if many women don’t find them particularly titillating? Discussions I’ve had with cis men and women over the last few decades lead me to several possibilities:
- They invite a woman to access her inner exhibitionist and produce some home-grown porn. Of course, not all women have an inner exhibitionist. But for those who do, his naughty photo may be the perfect encouragement for her own experimentation.
- They are a great way to measure a recipient’s willingness to hook up—no coffee date required. Women who are open to casual sex and more blatant sexual adventure respond more positively to sexted photos than those seeking romance and commitment. This doesn’t mean that the ladies seeking a long-term relationship won’t be open to this form of sex play in the future, but it’s likely that they will wait for more of a commitment before enthusiastically exchanging sexy selfies.
- For those proud of their size, photos of their hot rod are an effective way to show off their wares. After all, this may be the only way to provide accurate intel without direct personal experience. Unlike women, whose breast size tends to be more obvious, penis size is much more difficult to guestimate. So, for some guys, think of this as his version of the tight tank top. Neither leave much to the imagination, and both are appreciated by the “size matters” crowd.
So we’ve established why pics of his package are a thing. But why a pic is sent may have absolutely no correlation with the enthusiasm with which it is received. In fact, the odds are high that such photos will accomplish the exact opposite of its intention. Ladies, if this is the case for you, there’s no benefit to staying quiet if you are on the receiving end of an annoying or unwelcome photo shoot. Tolerating unwanted sexual behavior can shut you down emotionally, leaving you less receptive to future partners and experiences that you would enjoy. Ultimately, it’s in everyone’s best interest if consent is obtained prior to his hitting the send button. And gentlemen, don’t forget that pics in the hand of an unhappy recipient can be used against you, in various ways.
All-in-all, it’s likely that the d*ck pic is here to stay. Consider them an opportunity for everyone to practice good sexual communication and consent, thus ensuring that his package gets all the admiration it deserves, from eager recipients only.
Leave a Comment