A quick and very unscientific study of the women of Gizmodo Media and Onion Inc. shows that pretty much all of us have had to look at a dick pic we didn’t want to. (And as one co-worker pointed out, have we ever wanted to look at any dick pic?) And although women have long talked among themselves about why guys send dick pics, there hasn’t been any scientific research to support the anecdotal evidence. Are they harassing us? Intimidating us? Is this some bizarre imaginary courtship ritual?
Then Australia’s Mel Magazine brought a new study, published last month in Journal Of Gender Studies, to our attention. The study—wonderfully prefixed “C’mon, No One Wants A Dick Pic”—publishes research from sociologist Andrea Waling about why heterosexual men persist in thinking that any woman wants a picture of their dick (by and large, we don’t). Although there’s been some research on the social and legal implications of unsolicited dick pics, Waling says she’s more interested why guys are doing this in the first place. That might seem like another one of those studies that just confirms something that women have known forever, but the implications of not having any data are actually potentially damaging for women, who often carry the burden of men’s bad behavior via “slut-shaming” or revenge porn. Plus, understanding why guys send dick pics also says something about masculinity and their relationships with women, and god knows both of these things are seriously fucking up democracy right now.
In an interview with Mel Magazine, Waling points out that “the penis plays a very active role in normative beliefs about heterosexuality and masculinity,” and that could lead men to think that women want guys to send us dick pics (we don’t). Waling’s full interview goes into potential motivations of artfully shot dick pics, the problems of responding to dick pics with humor, and what it might take to put a stop to dick pics.
In the meantime, guys, keep your dick pics to yourselves.