On Unsolicited Penis Pics

Others may be more important, or starker, or more common, but the gendered behavior I find most puzzling is the unsolicited genitalia picture.

Seriously. There is a (small, but evident) group of men who think the single most attractive thing they can do is send a woman they barely know a picture of their erect penis, to the point that nearly all my female and female-assigned friends who do online dating have received a dick pic. (Although I do not know any men who have sex with men well enough to inquire of them, commenters are encouraged to share their experiences about whether this is strictly a straightboy thing.)

Why? Why? WHY DO PEOPLE DO THIS? I mean, most men who like women are not attracted to a random disembodied vulva floating in space; why would they assume women who like men are attracted to a random disembodied cock? (Of course, there are people who are attracted to random disembodied vulvas/cocks, but I’m fairly comfortable with saying they’re in the strict minority.)

Side note to those who are considering sending a dick pic to a woman: please do not send one unless it is specifically requested, and I mean “I would like a picture of your penis” specifically requested. If she just asks for a sexy or naked picture, then take a picture of your torso, ass, or full body. Your dick can certainly be in the picture, but it should not be the starring role (barring being able to suck your own cock, or other exceptional traits).

For everyone else: I will now speculate about why people do this. If you have personal experience, please do elaborate in the comments.

1) Penises stick out, and therefore are easier to take pictures of than vulvas; if you could take a picture of your vulva without contorting into some completely awful position, then a whole bunch of women would be sending allegedly sexy but actually gynecological vulva pictures.

2) A lot of people believe that penises are the male equivalent of breasts. (This showed up in the comments on my post last week about why women should be allowed to take their shirts off in public– “I don’t want to see penises waving about in public, so it makes sense we’re not allowed to wave breasts about in public!”) Therefore, just like men are famously attracted to breasts, women are attracted to penises! Except that the male equivalent to a female chest is, you know, a male chest.

3) A lot of men are under the impression that male chests and asses are not a sexual thing to women, possibly related to the widespread cultural insistence that the only physical trait that matters is a large penis. (This has been changing recently to the insistence that there is such a thing as male beauty and it is defined as HUGE MUSCLES, but the first idea still exists.) I have no idea how they’ve managed to keep this idea. Do I need to show you people more pictures of hot shirtless men? Because I will.

4) The idea that every woman is incredibly attracted to a large penis, and that by taking a picture of your cock you’re showing that you have a large penis, which is hence very attractive.

5) The theory espoused in this Reproductive Health Reality Check article, i.e. gendered responses to insecurity (such as the insecurity involved in hitting on someone via the Internet). Men tend to respond to insecurity through asserting their physical superiority (“look at me, I’ve got a giant cock!”) whereas women tend to respond through seeking reassurance.

6) Men are incredibly more likely to hit on women on online dating sites than women are to hit on men. In particular, terrible men make up a substantial percentage of any woman’s inbox on online dating sites, as they will copy-paste the same “hey sexxxxxxxy ur cute wanna fuk?” message to two hundred women, while the decent people will send a thoughtful message to people they like. It only takes a few terrible men sending pictures of their penises to hundreds of women to make sure everyone online gets one.

7) Emotional armor. Hitting on someone makes you incredibly vulnerable– just think about the fear of rejection!– and the male gender role is about not being vulnerable. For some reason, a penis picture may make them feel less vulnerable. (If nothing else, they are literally showing that they have the balls to do it.)

Anyway, that’s all the theories I have. Add your own in the comments.

About ozyfrantz

Ozy Frantz is a student at a well-respected Hippie College in the United States. Zie bases most of zir life decisions on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and identifies more closely with Pinkie Pie than is probably necessary. Ozy can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter as @ozyfrantz. Writing is presently Ozy's primary means of support, so to tip the blogger, click here.


  1. I am not sent into fits of passion at the site of a male body while I am very atracted to men. I certainly know when I am attracted to a man, but it doesn’t fill me up with happiness to see his body alone. I would probably be more excited, not neccesarily turned on though, by a picture of a man’s hands or his shoulders and back then I would his penis. It is more playful and subtle. But I still wouldn’t be so turned on I’d want to have sex then and there. I still would consider myself a very sexual person. I kind of feel like the dic picks are akin to little boys playing show and tell and saying, “Here I am! Look at what I got! Wanna see? Wanna see?”

  2. Women do this too! At least, the bi/lesbian ones do.

    I used to look for women to date on the women-seeking-women section of Craigslist in New York. There were a bunch of women who posted pics of their vaginas in the ads, just like there were a bunch of men on Craigslist who posted dick pics in their ads. Other women would complain about this, how low-class it was, etc., but those disembodied pussy pics kept on coming.

    I have no idea why anyone would find a stranger’s disembodied genitals arousing, but there you go. I’m not even going to theorize as to why women would do this, if the reasons are the same for both genders, etc.

  3. I don’t think its nearly as complicated as the author is making it.
    I think guys are simply saying they want to have sex in their own way. If you notice sometimes when a guy likes you, he will give you crotch shot- that is he turns towards you and spreads his legs. He wants you to look at his penis. The internet removes a lot of manners people would have in real life, so guys are doing the same thing just with the pants off.

    They are saying, “Here’s what I’m working with, come get some!”

    Sometimes on discovery channel they will show male monkeys fondling themselves all day. This is much like yahoo chat cams back in the day.

    These guys would probably like it if women sent them unsolicited pictures of themselves, so I’m guessing they think women will like dick pics.

  4. dunno. but this tumblr is hilarious on this “front”: http://bonersinthepeloton.tumblr.com/

  5. Reading through the comments it seems many people are missing the point. The author is specifically talking about UNSOLICITED penis pics sent to someone the sender barely knows via the internet. So comments about how & what you do with your partner etc. are irrelevant. WHY do men send pics of their dicks to women they barely know and have certainly never met? I got talking to someone I met through Twitter. He’s a reasonably high profile lawyer with several thousand followers as he makes the odd appearance on TV. I was flattered by the attention and enjoyed the interaction but just 4 days after we started to exchange private messages, without any prompting or request from me, he sent me a video of him wanking.

    WHY? Isn’t that a bit disrespectful? I was shocked and quite upset to be honest. If that’s what he wanted, there are ‘services’ he could have availed himself of. Or was I being over sensitive?

    • No Yvonne I don’t think you are sensitive.I myself would have been appalled.I consider that crap to be like a visual assault of sorts.

  6. Being an erotica writer and spending a lot of time on twitter, I attract a barrage of dick pics. I’m not sure why men think that, because I write about sex, fictionally, I’m all that obsessed by it or am less inhibited than anyone else. I’m not.

    Dick pics don’t offend me at all. I don’t get them and freak out. But when I look at them, it is with the sort of dispassionate eye that, I suspect, might wilt the most rampant erection. I have, on occasion, sent a tweet or email back saying: “I’m sorry to have to inform you that you have a genital wart on (insert specific location here) your penis. Go to a doctor and have it seen to before you have sex with anyone.”

    Conversely, I did once receive an unsolicited picture of a correspondent’s hand. It was a magnificent, very sexy hand. I had very specific and erotic fantasies about how that hand would look and feel on certain parts of my body. Sadly, the man who sent it never followed up.

    *sigh* Ya win some, ya lose some.

    • What’s with hands, I’m almost tempted to send a pic of my hand just to see the reaction…..but then again, unwanted contact, ugh.

  7. wellokaythen says:

    I think parts of #5 and #7 come the closest to explaining. Paradoxically, there is something very insecure about sending a photo of your erection. It is a kind of bravado. I think there is something going on there that goes WAY beyond just having the wrong idea of what turns women on. Deep down, most of those men know that this will not really work to get them sex, and there’s something else going on. It reminds me of the men hanging out of car windows hooting at women walking by. They must know that’s not going to impress her.

    You could also look at the dick pic as a kind of e-flashing. Perhaps what motivates the unsolicited penis pic is similar to the things that motivate flashers? I can see a lot of similarity. Perhaps there’s a thrill at the idea of disgusting or shocking a woman. For the flasher, the advantage of the penis pic over flashing in person is that you have no risk of being laughed at, and substantially less risk of winding up in jail. Maybe the picture taker ultimately has no interest in actual sex with the recipient at all, and the sexual goal is the shock and/or offensiveness itself. Men who want to expose themselves to women but could never bring themselves to flash someone in person can now do so online.

    (Just to be clear: explanation of a behavior does not mean justification of a behavior.)

  8. Joey Joe Joe says:

    On #2: I’ve had women show me their chests and then expect penis pics. This leaves me thinking many women would disagree with you and that a penis IS the equivalent of breasts. However, I do also feel this is because of the social norm of covering breasts, and if they were allowed to be bared, then people would view the chests of all sexes to be equal.

  9. Sofo von Sofos says:

    Since the brain is our mightiest organ, and most men on dating sites think with their dick, they want to show just how brainy they are.
    The accompanying text will tend to defy the attempt.
    I’ve always wondered how netdating seems to strip men of all reason, accountability and intelligence.
    Gues i’m just happy being an alien.


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