Via Wikimedia Commons Any woman who has ever ventured into the world of online dating , or almost any form of modern electronic communication, will tell you that one of their main complaints is that men routinely send them unsolicited pictures of their genitals. Women understandably complain about this for two main reasons: First, they really don't want to see these pics.
Secondly, guys send the pics without asking, often without any explanation or context. Typically, sending such a picture is one of the first communications women receive from these men. Do they really think I'm going to magically want to have sex with them now, after seeing their penis?
This definitely appears to be more of a male thing. At least, in terms of sending the pictures unrequested. Both males and females are commonly sending nudes of themselves to people they meet online, but women tend to wait until asked. That distinction may simply be an expression of gender differences in mating and dating strategies. The art of the tasteful selfie. It's most likely that this behavior represents an aspect of men's misperception of female sexual interest.
Men love the idea of receiving such pictures from strangers, and they assume women do too. Psychological research has demonstrated that in anonymous environments, people, both men and women, engage in fairly casual sexual behaviors, including exhibitionism. This is a key tenet behind the Pick-Up Artist strategies, where men are encouraged to be bold and impulsive. So, the "shock value" is a way for men to get attention. And negative attention is better than no attention at all. It's probable that at least some of these men receive a sexual thrill at the idea of an unknown woman seeing their genitalia.
It may be an aspect of exhibitionism, and some of these men probably masturbate as a part of the act, imagining that woman seeing the picture they sent. The fact that a woman rejects them for it is not salient, because for many such men, it is the woman's disgust and rejection which is actually part of the turn-on.
These are likely the same men that used to be in trenchcoats on street corners. Jean Jacques Rousseau Source: Via Wikimedia Commons Men fear sexual rejection, and by sending pics of their genitalia, they are almost getting "pre-approval. It's important to note that within gay male circles, this behavior is very common, and is not viewed as a problem.
In fact, many men are happy to get such pictures, and usually respond in kind. But, for some reason, whether biology, psychology or social suppression of female sexuality, women don't enjoy this the way men do.
In a clever twist, one woman started sending men pics of female genitals. She was surprised that overwhelmingly, men loved it, found her boldness both sexy and fun, and wanted to meet her. So, again, we have evidence that men are sending such pictures because they think others will like them, as much as they do.
Via Wikimedia Commons Smartphones, texting, email and online dating are the current vehicle for this behavior and sexual dynamic, but let's not pretend that this is a new issue. The underlying sexual processes and dynamics have always been with us. One issue is that men just aren't good at hearing, or responding to "No. But this same dynamic, that men think women are sexually as excited as they are, is getting in the way of men hearing the "No, we DON'T want to see that!
This behavior is sometimes much more serious than we may know. Women, and all people, should be able to have some safe spaces. Unfortunately, safety on the Internet is hard to come by. Ultimately, the answer here lies in greater dialogue with men and women, over what they actually want in sexual communications. This might reach some of these men, those who are genuinely not understanding some sexual differences. But, this requires for women to have the safety to be honest about their sexual interests.
The shaming and suppression of female sexuality is part of the issue here, as men don't feel they understand what women actually want sexually, and women don't feel they can express it safely. Unfortunately, I don't think such dialogue is happening, or even possible right now. People who are offended and grossed out at such images would like them banned.
They want men to understand that such behaviors are rude, unacceptable and should simply stop. Many women have tried attacking such men, flaming and shaming them, both online and in personal communications. But such strategies probably won't work. A tenet of psychology is that negative reinforcement is still reinforcement.
The more uproar, outrage and disgust that such pics get, the more powerful some men feel. They feel some pride that their penis generated this strong reaction. So, shaming, banning, flaming strategies are unlikely to be successful.
A better strategy is to ignore it. I know that probably feels unsatisfying. It's important that women, and men, understand that this behavior, even when it feels distasteful and rude, is not personal. It's not actually about you, the person receiving these pics. This behavior reveals some core differences between men and women's sexual personalities, and that men need to work harder at understanding women's actual sexual interests and motivations. The more we engage in open dialogue about these issues and sexual motivations and miscommunications, the better.