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 ozyfrantz@gmail.com or on Twitter as @ozyfrantz. Writing is presently Ozy's primary means of support, so to tip the blogger, click here.


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.)

  4. 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.

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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?”

  10. The idea that all women like guys with huge muscles is dodgy. It’s like saying that all all men like women with big asses and boobs. I don’t.

  11. Another funny post, Ozy. Nothing to add, except to your point 2.

    Freudianly, the female equivalent of the penis is the foot.

    Thank about that the next time your girlfriend asks you to rub her feet.

  12. IloveEdinburgh says:

    AnonymousDog, I do not deny that online dating sites must be very frustrating places for men. However, I remain unconvinced by the logic of “well, nothing else has worked so far, I might as well send a bunch of women unsolicited photos of my cock!” because, well, it’s conclusion is sending people unsolicited photos of your cock which (unless you specifically want to dig out the women who would be turned on by such a move) is ill-advised, but also because there is no one tactic that works for attracting women. And I think that expressing frustration at that fact is kinda revealing. I don’t think it makes you a terrible, sexist monster – I do think it means that we live in a world with toxic views about the heterosexual dating process and one of those is disregard for the individuality of women.

    “Gah, nothing works!” is obnoxious because there is no trick or method that “works”. Attracting people is not like opening a tightly-sealed jar – just run it under hot water and hey presto! The only tactic that “works” is precisely shifting through all the wrong individuals till you find one of the right ones, because that’s what the word individual implies.

    NaHa, I never said that being desired is horrible – it can actually be pretty fantastic. I do think however that there’s a certain kind of hypocrisy in complaining about your partner’s lack of sexual expression while simultaneously wanting to dictate what should arouse her and how she should express that.

    • Maybe it’s because English isn’t my native tongue, but I have a really hard time grasping your point.

      Yes, I sincerely hope that the sexual wishes and desires of my partner and my own sexual wishes and desires have enough overlap that regular, mutually enjoyable sex actually happens.

      I don’t think thats quite the same as “wanting to dictate what should arouse her” though. Trying to dictate any behavior or thoughts of your partner is of course not OK, but that is something very different than wishing your partner would express the wishes s/he already (hopefully, see above) has, isn’t it?
      For me these concepts seem to be rather unconnected, but you keep injecting the “dictate her desire” angle into the conversation. Is that really something you encounter?

    • AnonymousDog says:


      I’m not suggesting that sending d*ck pics is a good idea, or that its likely to get results. I’m just proposing a possible explanation for why some guys do it: They are frustrated and somewhat disgusted with the whole process of online meeting/dating, and just decide to try and get some attention by doing something intended to shock.

  13. Context, context, context. For example, my partner would occasionally pull down his boxer briefs, stick his di** in my face, and wave it around when I wasn’t paying attention as a joke. It’s far more funny than erotic, and that was his intention. A similar visual situation that I did find sexy and led to sex? He’d come out wearing those same boxer briefs while I was, say, doing dishes, run his hands down my body, pull my hair to the side and start to kiss me on the neck. Turn my head around, kiss me, and grab my ass with one, hair with the other. Then he’d put my hand on his penis. Nudity does not always equal OMG sex. I and many of the men I’ve been with like walking around nude or semi-nude because it’s hot out or because it’s more comfortable. It’s not erotic until it becomes erotic. I’ve also seen my fair share of penis pictures. In some cases it did nothing, in some cases it was annoying, and in some cases it was extremely hot and led to hours of masturbation. It had nothing to do with the size and look of the penis and EVERYTHING to do with who sent it, when, and why.

  14. From this discussion and the other threads on porn I am coming to the conclusion that perhaps there’s an element of transference happening here by following formula:

    man (naturally) loves his penis
    + the hyper-focus on genitalia in porn
    + the “acting” in porn of the recipient of the presented screen-filling erection looking incredibly happy & turned on at just the mere sight of it & nothing else & then the initiation of sex.
    = man thinking the dick pic = happiness & arousal on the part of the recipient.

    There is such variety in life and sexual arousal, that there are of course going to be people happy to get them, but I agree the population is small. When someone “doesn’t get” something related to sex (or something else like whether they love cilantro or hate it,) it’s usually because they are presented with something that doesn’t do anything for them. For example, the 100% heterosexual man saying, “I just don’t get gay sex. How can they do that? It’s gross.” Well, you’re “just not getting it” because you’re not wired to be aroused by it—you’re attracted to women, you want to have sex with women. Attempting to imagine experiencing arousal by visualizing sex between two men, or you and another man isn’t going to do much for you, may make you feel weird, off, even perhaps some disgust = You “just not getting it.” But just because it doesn’t do anything for you, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong for someone else. This is my theory for the “I just don’t get it” phenomenon. I will forever now wonder if the unsolicited dick pic will equal that the person I’m talking to consumes a lot of porn.

    The best *solicited* dick pic I’ve ever received actually showed no dick at all. I was flirting with someone I met in school, but he had just moved to Hawaii. We had been taking turns sending pics of things we’d ask for, sexual or not. He was texting me from a party, asking for a picture of my breasts. I sent a pic of my naked torso. He asked if I wanted in turn to see his cock. I didn’t want to go there, as the lonely screen filling erection does nothing for me, and I had yet to even meet his penis in person. So I thought for a few minutes how I might still involve his penis in this game. I came up with asking him to go write “I (heart) [my first name]” in the white sand of the beach the next time he left the party to piss. Then photograph his work, & send it to me. I’m not sure if that qualifies as a dick pic, but he was certainly holding his penis and thinking of me, & I got photographic evidence of it. I liked that idea much better than just looking at his erection w/o the rest of him. He responded with, “LMAO! That is just awesome.” … and the pic. Good thing I have a short name.

  15. Definitely not just straight guys. My boyfriend’s online dating life is FULL of cock pics sent to them by people who seem to think that it’s the only thing a queer boy is interested in about other boys, queer or otherwise.

    I do think there’s something to the idea of it being sexual aggression, but at the same time it’s eloquent about the vulnerability of these people: “my dick is the only reason someone will want to be in contact with me”. Maybe they don’t even believe that about themselves, but the preponderance of that behaviour online has taught them that they ought to comply with it, for fear of potential alternatives, like “if I don’t send a cock pic to prove how huge and virile I am, people will assume I am not huge or virile”, much like how people without profile pics of any description are assumed to be ugly.

  16. I think the important question is…

    If I pretend I don’t get your point

    Will you show me more pictures of shirtless men?

  17. Tahotai says:

    Not just the straight guys. Though I imagine it has a much higher success rate among gay/bi guys since they’ve been socialized with the same penis worship mindset.

  18. raindizzle says:

    There’s also the creep factor. Some guys get off on the idea of sending their (unwanted) penis pics to women. Virtual flashers.

    • I’ve always interpreted it as a type of sexual aggression, yeah. Like “you will see my penis whether you want to or not”.

      In any case it’s really not hot to me. Maybe there are women who appreciate a random dick pic, but if so, they either don’t talk about it or I haven’t met them.

      • I think that’s the driving issue. For a lot of us, we imagine our sexuality resides in our penis (and maybe we fret, or maybe we congratulate ourselves, over its size!) and to force it on a woman is to force ourselves on her. Most of us aren’t into rape, but I wonder if there isn’t the same motivation behind it–I’ll do this because I’m the one who wants it, and I’ll make you notice me. It’s crazy, but I think any response at all is satisfying to the man, even if the woman laughs at him. The point is, he must be noticed. Perhaps it’s like “This is vitally important to me, and I need you to say it’s important too.” It’s really irrelevant whether the woman approves or not.

    • wellokaythen says:

      “Virtual flashers.”

      And, it’s so much easier than getting out your trench coat, driving to the park, keeping an eye out for cops, waiting for women to walk by, etc. You don’t even have to leave your house, and you can flash a hundred individual women at the same time! Ooh, not only that, but you don’t even have to use a picture of your own penis, you can shop around. The internet is revolutionizing our lives in so many ways….

  19. IloveEdinburgh says:

    Heh. I am at a loss to interpret these last few comments.

    Here’s a hint FlyingKal and AnonymousDog: maybe you’re having so much difficulty trying to figure out “what women are attracted to” because the female hivemind is not actually a thing. An idea worth considering perhaps?

    Personally, my boyfriend lying naked around the house is almost definitely going to result in “hunger and lust in my eyes”, which will usually be expressed by telling him that “he and his body is attractive and sexy and evoke urges in me” (or, you know, just simply pouncing on him). If this really bothers you maybe this is something you should talk about with your girlfriend? So many women are taught to be ashamed of expressing sexual desire – as for acting instead of reacting men in my experience do not necessarily understand what that comprehends. If you really want your partner to start taking the initiative it’s important to understand that a) that means sometimes finding yourself in the awkward possition of having to deal with unexpected or unwanted behaviour in a sensitive way and b) sometimes it’s very hard to reverse the social conditioning of a lifetime.

    • FlyingKal says:

      To IloveEdinburgh:
      Heh, you know, the male hivemind is not a thing either.
      It’s kind of funny that you start off with that remark about “the female hivemind is not actually a thing”, and then goes on to rant about how any script that doesn’t fit in your experience about male/female behaviour doesn’t actually exist… 🙂

      a) You do not know what I have done, what I’ve tried to do, and how I’ve been met in my life, so please refrain from pretending that you do.
      b) Yes, and that should apply to anyone, not just females, you know?

      • IloveEdinburgh says:

        Um, rather confused again. I did not state that “men do this”, rather that “in my experience a lot of men do this”. Am I not allowed to have past experiences now, because I believe that humans are individuals rather than two big borgs? Saying “men (having been socially conditioned to see themselves as the active party in heterosexual relationships) often do not realise what being on the other side means” is totally different to saying “what do those mysterious creatures what already?!”

        Also, I did not tell you what you have done, what you’ve tried to do or how you’ve been met (by whom? where? wha?!). Where on earth did you get that from? As for b): yes. That was kind of my entire point.

      • IloveEdinburgh says:

        Also, “ick” for referring to women as “females”, but that’s another story I suppose….

        • FlyingKal says:

          (Cheez, I hate this division between older/newer comments…!)

          Um, rather confused again. I did not state that “men do this”, rather that “in my experience a lot of men do this”. Am I not allowed to have past experiences now, because I believe that humans are individuals rather than two big borgs?
          You are allowed to whatever. It’s just makes for a nicer discussion climate when you allow for other the same leeway that you expect for yourself.
          I was just like you talking about my own experiences. Just because they contradict yours doesn’t mean that either of them should be used to try and erase the others.

          “Also, I did not tell you what you have done” etc.
          Stating that maybe this or that is something I should try or do, clearly implies that you don’t consider it something I may have already tried or done.

          Also, “ick” for referring to women as “females”, but that’s another story I suppose….

          Also, when I read the post by “Sarah” above, zie seems to have a view and experience that go quite well along the lines of what I presume that my girlfriend is experiencing, WRT not being very visual or turned on by just looking at a male body. But that doesn’t seem to be of interest, and it would be interesting to know if there’s a special reason to this?

          • Where even are the older comments? This is so confusing *_*

            Anyway I do have to say, it must be tough for men to understand what it’s like to grow up with the premise that you are a sexual object to be examined, found worthy and used by others, devoid of your own sexual drive. The passivity encouraged in women is very hard to overcome.

            And, it probably doesn’t help that from the tween years on, women are exposed to a barrage of sexual attention that can range from flattering to completely traumatic. For me, that was the toughest hangup to kick when it came to approaching men or even just initating sex with a trusted partner. So many sexual experiences I had as a young woman were based upon something less than enthusiastic consent, and more or less unpleasant, that I was really worried about being too aggressive or demanding toward my own partners. I didn’t want to make them feel how I had once felt.

            ILE is so right when she says that having your partner take the initiative presents issues of its own – “that means sometimes finding yourself in the awkward possition of having to deal with unexpected or unwanted behaviour in a sensitive way”, etc. Changing a sexual dynamic between two people is not an easy thing to do.

            I suppose there may also be issues of different sexual responses going on here, for example, women who need more foreplay than our male partners or are not very visually oriented. But I’d say it’s almost impossible to know which of those things are hardwired and which are not. Personally I’ve found that changing my framework for how sex is supposed to be, had a great effect on my physical responses as well. But it won’t be the same for everyone.

            • FlyingKal says:


              Wow. Was I really that condescending?

            • IloveEdinburgh says:

              “I was really worried about being too aggressive or demanding toward my own partners. I didn’t want to make them feel how I had once felt.”

              This! My idea of “taking the initiative” still more or less looks like this: “Perhaps? What do you think? Are you sure? You can say no if you want to you know! Is this ok? Should I stop? I don’t mind either way! It’s just perhaps I kinda felt and so I thought…” It’s very hard to overcome even when directly authorised to be aggressive.

              And that’s coupled with the fear that as soon as I do take the initiative I will become undesirable because I will be exposed as “easy”, completing a lovely circle that means that the best way of guaranteeing you never get what you want is to ask for it.

              I just think that a lot of the time men interpret “being the passive partner” as “getting what you want without having to ask for it” – which it’s totally not. And if you don’t like that statement as being too essentialist, FlyingKal (because I of course completely intend it as being grounded on established social conditioning that means that most men will not have a lot of experience with routinely being the passive party), then I’ll be more straightforward: even in your comment you didn’t seem – at least to me – to have fully grasped what it was you were asking for. Being the passive party does not mean that you get to secretly manipulate the other person into offering you what you’ve already decided you want by lolling around the apartment all sexy like in your undies. It does mean often having to deal with unwanted and uninvited attention, while also feeling that you ought to grab every chance that’s sent your way, because the option of getting what you want when you want it doesn’t exist, since you can’t ask for it.

              • FlyingKal says:

                And I wasn’t even talking about taking initiatives or the double sword of being passive/active. Please…

              • FlyingKal says:

                But then again, regarding this:
                “Perhaps? What do you think? Are you sure? You can say no if you want to you know! Is this ok? Should I stop? I don’t mind either way! It’s just perhaps I kinda felt and so I thought…”

                Imagine being a (straight) guy approaching 30 when he has his first sexual encounter with a women. And getting no verbal feedback, or any acknowledgement whatsoever that she’s actually attracted to him, except for occasionally accepting to again have sex with him. And that coupled with the fear that taking too much initiatives, or even push the subjet of actually talking about it, will make her feel trapped in a corner.

                Do you really think that his thoughts regarding the situation will differ all that much from what you just described above??

                • Uh yeah, that sounds totally frustrating, and now that you are getting more specific it’s a lot easier to interpret what you are talking about. ILE and I were speaking to some possible things that could lead to that type of behavior, but that doesn’t make a situation like that acceptable or psychologically safe for you, does it?

                  Here’s the thing, sexual norms are damaging to all of our sex lives and that results in a multitude of shitty situations and shitty choices to make. Maybe at that time it wasn’t possible for you to ask for a frank discussion about her apparent lack of sexual response (after all, how were you supposed to know whether it was normal, whether she would be insulted and break up with you, what it is acceptable to question in a sex partner, etc) and it is also way too demanding to a newly devirginated person to say, “well if the sex isn’t good or doesn’t seem healthy, break up”. It’s a terrible dilemma and it sounds like kind of a scarring experience.

                  Is it helpful to you to hear about some things that go through women’s heads in that situation? Because basically that’s all I have to offer in this conversation. Or is it just even more frustrating to hear that?

                  • FlyingKal says:

                    I’d love to have a longer conversation about this, because I’m eager to learn as much as I possibly can. Although it’s partly frustrating, it also serves as a bit of therapy for me to get insights and clues into what’s going on in other people’s minds.(See, noone knows what’s going on in another person’s head, but I figure that a broader spectrum of answers and experiences is only for the better.)

                    However I don’t seem to be able to express myself good enough to convey my thoughts and feelings and have that conversation here 🙁
                    But thank you anyway.

                • IloveEdinburgh says:

                  “Do you really think that his thoughts regarding the situation will differ all that much from what you just described above??”

                  No, I’m sure they will be pretty similar. I’m also sure that plenty of straight men out there who indeed feel frustrated by their partners’ lack of active sexual participation, regardless of when they first became sexually active. It sucks all round.

                  However this doesn’t take away from the fact that in your first comment you seemed to be bemoaning your girlfriend’s lack of sexual expression while seemingly still subconsciously wanting to wrestle control for yourself by dictating the terms of her expression. You seemed to want your gf to be turned on by seeing you naked, not to express that she is turned on when she actually is turned on. And all I’m saying is if a person wants their partner to tell them that their body “is attractive and sexy and evoke urges in them” they have to let them do so on their own terms. For what it’s worth, I do understand that when somebody has plenty of experience in acting and very little in reacting this might not come very easily.

                  And I don’t mean this as an attack on you (although I’ll admit that your language did cause me to roll my eyes). But it’s a complaint I’ve heard so often – and I just rarely get the feeling that the complainants have really given much thought to the full implications of what it is they’re asking for.

                  • FlyingKal says:

                    It seems to me that we are mostly discussing the same thing, but from two different perspectives. Me as the man who’s not getting verbal or physical appraisal (is that an ok word?), and you as a woman who is not mainly turned on just by visual appearance, and also for various reasons (social construct etc.) may be inhibited to express some of her true wants and feelings. Right so far?

                    The thing is, I know about social construct and all that. I never contradicted that. I merely vented my, let’s call it frustration, as being on the receiving end of the result of it, so to speak. And what it can do to your psyche with feelings of unattractiveness, inferior complex etc.

                    in your first comment you seemed to be bemoaning your girlfriend’s lack of sexual expression while seemingly still subconsciously wanting to wrestle control for yourself by dictating the terms of her expression.

                    What I wanted was for my girlfriend to think that I’m attractive, to be turned on (sexually) by me, and to be able to express that attraction. It wasn’t a demand or even request, just a (stupid) wish, OK? And I certainly don’t want her to express an attraction that genuinely isn’t there. I KNOW it might be hard, but people are wired differently.

                    Again, I’m sorry if I don’t express myself correctly, but English is not my native language and there’s probably lots of nuances I’m missing. And even writing in my own language, written discussions are often open for interpretation and misunderstanding. Also see my answer to f. above.
                    Anyway, I’m off the internet for a couple of weeks so you’ll be rid of me for now. Hope you’ll have a pleasant summer.

                  • FlyingKal says:

                    I’m sorry, again!!
                    That woman “who is not mainly turned on just by visual appearance, and also for various reasons (social construct etc.) may be inhibited to express some of her true wants and feelings.” wasn’t you, but Sarah!
                    Gaaah!! I’m so sorry

          • IloveEdinburgh says:

            What I think makes for a nicer discussion is not twisting the other person’s words to make them out to be unreasonable when they’re not. In none of my comments did I claim that men are all the same. This does not mean that cultural tendencies cannot exist or that gender roles are not enforced. They do and they are, which is the very reason for the existence of this blog.

            “Stating that maybe this or that is something I should try or do, clearly implies that you don’t consider it something I may have already tried or done.”

            Expressing bewilderment at how impossible it is to divine “what women want” would imply that you haven’t.

            • FlyingKal says:

              Nor have I claimed that all women are the same! If you read my first post again you will see that I talked about my own experiences with the less than handful of girlfriends I’ve had.

              Yet you’re berating me for making sweeping “what women want” statements…

              • IloveEdinburgh says:

                And now I’m going to berate you for gaslighting.

                Here is a direct quote from the first of your comments I responded to:

                “I think there are an awful lot of men who are just at loss as what women are attracted to. Since the number of messages we are receiving about what NOT to do and behave, outnumber the messages about what to do and how to behave, by a ratio probably exceeding 1000:1. And since we can’t seem to do the right thing no matter what, we might just as well go for the chock effect. ”

                I guess if you really want to quibble you can claim that you were rather expressing exasperation at the fact that there is no single straightforward recipe for what women want, but really the sentiment is the same. You still seemed to be bemused by the fact that women are individuals and not machines you can turn on by punching in the right code. This is what I was reacting to.

                • FlyingKal says:

                  Saying that “I think there are an awful lot of men ” is not talking about ALL WOmen.

                  Also, to my defence I must say that since you were talking about your personal experience in your first post, I thought you were replying to the second half of my post where I was sharing MY experiences.

                  • IloveEdinburgh says:

                    Jesus, are you really this clueless??? The key part of the sentence is *not* the “awful lot of men” bit, but where you refer to “what women are attracted to” as if there’s one monolithic answer that womankind is keeping secret from you. And my point is there is no universal rule about what women are attracted to, because each woman is different.

                    Anyway, I think the discussion has reached a point where I don’t really believe that you are arguing remotely in good faith or trying to understand what I’m saying, so I think I’ll bow out.

    • Uh, just to jump in here, in my earlier comments all I meant to say was that I, personally, am not very visual. (Other women may be different) By that I mean, I’m not that turned on simply by looking at male bodies. However, I am NOT passive sexually, and there are a lot of things about male bodies that do turn me on. I can appreciate good looking guys, includng my boyfriend, but I don’t feel overwhelming lust JUST by seeing him lolling around in his underwear. So, for example, I might be in the shower and I start thinking about sex and I come out of the shower and he is lying on the bed in his underwear, I might go lie down next to him and start kissing him. But if I’m doing the laundry and he is lolling in his underwear, I probably won’t even notice. If he wants to get my attention, he’ll have to do or say something. Does that make sense?

    • AnonymousDog says:


      You seem to think that male frustration with online meeting/dating all stems from some sort of male misinterpretation of females in general, rather than a man’s own actual experiences with it.

      Let’s make a deal, shall we? I won’t discount your experiences if you won’t discount mine.

    • “… If you really want your partner to start taking the initiative it’s important to understand that a) that means sometimes finding yourself in the awkward possition of having to deal with unexpected or unwanted behaviour in a sensitive way …”

      I can only speak about my experience of being in a relationship with a woman having a higher sex drive and being very direct in initializing sex, but I didn’t perceived that communication as an undue or even surprising hardship.

      You’re right, it wasn’t some kind of nympho girlfriend p0rn fantasy you seem to have found men to have, but I’ve honestly never expected such a thing. And I think most people are actually quite capable of distinguishing erotic fantasies from the real world.

      That is not to say that there weren’t problems: my communication skills certainly got a good workout, and I had to wrestle quite a bit with my jerkbrain (“You turned down sex twice in a row! You’re not a real man! Now she’ll search for someone else who can satisfy her!”). But it wasn’t something horrible, just a bit more of the usual communication and soul searching necessary in any relationship.

      And I certainly regard it as a very small ‘price’ (if you want to call it that) for what I gained: after a lifetime of being told that male bodies are gross and undesirable, I learned what it feels like to be desired.

      It may sound strange for women, for whom ‘being desired’ is both a more assured fact and a double edged sword, but for me ‘finding yourself in the awkward possition of having to deal with unexpected or unwanted behaviour in a sensitive way’ was nothing compared to the wonder of being truly desired.

  20. AnonymousDog says:

    I have to agree with FlyingKal, I think the d*ck pics represent a ‘”What the hell, nothing else has gotten me a response, this can’t be any more unsuccessful” shot in the dark. They figure they’ve got nothing to lose by trying it.

  21. FlyingKal says:

    I think there are an awful lot of men who are just at loss as what women are attracted to. Since the number of messages we are receiving about what NOT to do and behave, outnumber the messages about what to do and how to behave, by a ratio probably exceeding 1000:1. And since we can’t seem to do the right thing no matter what, we might just as well go for the chock effect. Hence the penis pictures.
    I am over 40 years old. Although not a muscular type of guy, I’ve always been fit and in fairly good shape. I like intelligent people and an interesting conversation just as much as anyone, but I also like looking at and touching a female body. And if I have the chance to do so, I’m also not afraid of letting that person know what I think about what I see. But I don’t know when was the last time someone looked at me with hunger and lust in their eyes, and downright told me that I, my body, is attractive and sexy and evoke urges in them. Damn, I don’t even think that it’s ever happened more than 10 times in total in all my life… I can go lay naked on the bed and if my girlfriend enters the room I’m most likely to get a laugh out of her than anything else!

    • Every woman is different, of course, but personally I don’t get particularly lustful just from looking at my boyfriend’s body, at least not when it’s devoid of any context. I get more turned on by sexy situations, his voice, his face, his desire for me, touching him and being touched. I love his body (he’s tall, he’s got a great smile, and a politically incorrect hairy chest, mmm) –but I’m not very visual, I guess. I like erotic novels, but watching porn bores me.

      • FlyingKal says:

        I know what you mean.
        I have some troubles grasping this “devoid of context”. I’m not saying that every occasion where one is naked should lead to sex! But, there’s still the context of being in a (supposedly) sexual relation with another person. Shouldn’t one be somewhat attracted to that person and his/her body, and be able to appreciate and in some way express that attraction without it necessarily being in a sexual situation?

        If you (general you, not you personally) are always reacting and never acting, how can your partner be sure what you really want?
        It’s like someone complaining “My husband never takes the initiative to say he loves me. He just says “Me too!” whan I say I love him”.

        • I guess for me, like I said, I’m not very visual. I’m not really turned on just by looking at a male body, even if it’s my boyfriend’s. I might think “he looks nice, I like that” — but I don’t feel great stirrings of lust. It’s not what arouses me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate his body. I think he’s attractive. And I do initiate sex with my boyfriend (I don’t just react to what he does) but it’s usually because I’ve gotten myself turned on by thinking about sex. Like, we might be sitting on the couch cuddling up watching TV and I start thinking sexy thoughts. I start thinking about the last time we had sex and how turned on I was. That sort of thing.

    • Well, women have different turn offs, so if you listen to enough women talking about their turn offs, then yea, eventually you will hear basically everything described as a turn off. The trick is not to treat them as anything other than a particular woman’s opinion. Perhaps the women you’ve been listening to tend to universalise or politicise their preferences, or perhaps you’re inferring it, or something in between, but that’s not really the issue.

      I mean, listening to a lot of women talking about their turnoffs and concluding “Wow, everything is a problem” is about as legit as listening to a lot of women talking about their turn ons and concluding “Wow, anything goes!”

  22. Firestone says:

    I think how porn has a tendency to reduce the man to a disembodied cock makes some men think that’s how men participate in sexy imagery– it’s INCREDIBLY male gaze-y, but it doesn’t occur to some that women might want to see something different.

  23. http://goodmenproject.com/moustacheclubofamerica/how-not-to-send-dick-pics-a-beginners-guide/

    This covers a few of the same bases. via brett favre analysis

  24. I think another reason is while it takes a lot of work to develop and maintain a hard (conventionally-attractive) body, it’s fairly easy to come up with a hard cock. The ease of shooting a penis versus a vulva doesn’t hurt.

  25. Men seeking men ads used to be almost nothing but “cock shots”. It appears to have been toned down in recent years, but there’s still quite a lot of it. No, I have no idea why, and I’ve never done that personally. (One guy specifically requested one from me, because according to him it’s “totally sexy”. But that’s just one person.)

  26. Many women I’ve talked to think their vulva is ugly (it isn’t ladies!) and this could be why, they’re more likely to let someone see their breasts than their vulva. The men may assume their penis will be seen as sexy and it will turn her on which can lead to more sexytimes?

    • abyssobenthonic says:

      And that may be why they get sent.

      If you’re a guy who gets off on being sexually aggressive (ideally consensually sexually aggressive, though perhaps not willing to go the BDSM route), your goal is to find women who are less likely to be turned off by sexual aggression (either because you care about consent or because you don’t want to risk being charged with rape).

      The logical thing to do is to then use the most sexually aggressive message you can think of. Those who are turned off by aggression won’t respond, and you’re not wasting your time feeling things out any further.

  27. Alastair says:
    • Ogi Ogas is kind of a hack. Like a lot of evo-psych writers, he presents a whole lot of speculation and assumption accompanied by very little solid evidence.

  28. As an aside;

    I’ve seen many, many women proclaim that they are not attracted to guys who are extremely muscular. I’ve never seen one proclaim that they are. It seems that the idea that HUEG MUSCLEZ is the general male sexual ideal is actually a misconception that exists so women who like tall men with little body hair and low body fat can tell themselves that they are not buying into the mainstream.

    • Well, *someone* is watching all those Channing Tatum movies…

      • Not me, though I will be seeing MM on Friday. I’m kind of scared!

      • Channing Tatum is not extremely muscular though. I think when women say they’re not attracted to guys who are extremely muscular, they’re referring to the freakishly huge bodybuilders like Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler and Dennis Wolf.

        • Right, that’s what I’ve always taken from it. The supposed ideal is more muscles = better.

        • Ewwww, no. That’s an extreme that appeals to *some* people, but not a majority according to the women that I know. Most of us like a variety of body types and not the extremes.

    • FlyingKal says:

      And I’ve seen too many examples of people dating, sleeping with, and/or marrying people who totally deviate from their proclamations about what they’re attracted to.

      I have a theory that we, as people, claim to be attracted to positive traits in other people, but what we really do is ascribe or project positive traits to people that we are attracted to…

      • @FlyingKal: This is as good a time as any to bring up sapiosexuality.

        • FlyingKal says:

          @Hugh: I’m not really sure about that connection.

          AFAIK “sapiosexualtiy” means being attracted to someone’s mind/intellect. And my point was not that people are attrcated to something special. Just that what they are attracted to is not what thay say they are.

      • I think there is a often a difference between what we like to look at (rather one-dimensional, pleasing to the eye) versus the real 3D person that we fall in love with, which is more about the complex and intangible chemistry/attraction thing than looks (if someone could figure out the attraction formula, they’d be rich…much as someone who could figure out the athletic success formula for pro sports). Often, the person we fall in love with has a variety of things that get and keep our attention, whereas that nice looking person in the ad or on the TV is forgotten 15 seconds later.

  29. Aaron W says:

    Although it’s been 5 years since I’ve dated online, I can say this is far more common among men who have sex with men than straight men. In fact, many people will advertise themselves (usually for casual sex) using dick pictures even on their profiles depending on the website or app. I think it’s much more acceptable for gay men, but you do also see a lot more shirtless pics than dick pics. I haven’t personally received one unsolicited, but I’m also not particularly interested in casual sex for the most part.

    Aside: I don’t have any statistics to back this up, but anecdotally it does seem to me that there are many more gay men who take steroids in order to be pretty by having BIG MUSCLEZ. Isn’t it also more common for gay men to have eating disorders?

  30. There are a lot of unstated assumptions here, Ozy. Firstly, you seem to think that the men sending cock pics are the same guys spamming the “hey there, ur sexy” messages. Why? I mean I know you find both annoying, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same people doing them. Maybe you think they speak of a similar disregard for women’s feelings… but I’m not seeing any explanation along those lines.

    You suggest men send pictures of their chests and arses instead, but I don’t think that really works. It’s partly a trust thing – by sending somebody a picture of an area you don’t display to most people, and that you would probably feel uncomfortable displaying to most people, you’re making a gesture of trust and intimacy (even if it is somewhat illusory, since it’s quite easy to just leave that cock pic floating out there with few consequences if the receiver turns out not to be somebody you want to trust further). Showing them a chest pic doesn’t really do that. Showing them an ass pic does to a certain extent, but a cock pic goes further. Pictures of hot shirtless men are not really a good counter-argument.

    Also, anecdotally, men who sleep with men do seem to be reasonably interested in cock pics. I’ve heard a few gay guys talking about how they enjoy getting them. Might not be representative, but you did ask for anecdata.

  31. But in general female sexuality is seen as pure, good and desireable while male sexuality is dirty, bad and even straight women are expected to wish they didn’t need men to have sex.

    I’d disagree with this, for the most part. I think both male and female sexuality are both viewed as dirty, and women aren’t even supposed to want sex at all, while men are supposed to want it all the time.

    • FlyingKal says:

      Women aren’t supposed to want sex at all, because the male sexuality is (seen as) dirty and bad and will “contaminate” them…

      • Colette Wedding says:

        Now you’re just reducing the BS women face to being defined by the BS men face. Women get shit about their sexuality being dirty absent any man at all or even any intent to be sexual.

        • I agree that he is being reductionist, and re-framing things in an inappropriate way.

          However, there is a kernel of truth in what he’s saying. In general, women are viewed as defiling _themselves_ with their sexuality, whereas men are viewed as defiling _others_ with their sexuality (in particular, women). And, conversely, women are generally seen as benefiting _others_ with their sexuality, and men are generally seen as benefiting only _themselves_ with their sexuality. Or, in a nutshell, sex is viewed as harming women and benefiting men.

          This can definitely give the impression of women as pure creatures that are defiled by toxic male sexuality. And certainly I grew up feeling like my sexuality was harmful to women (i.e. almost any sexual partner I might desire) due to messages along those lines, and that really messed me up. But of course you are right that it’s a gross and selective simplification.

          In reality, it’s a complex issue, and no one wins. (Almost) everyone loses.

          • Colette Wedding says:

            I do understand what you’re saying. But just think for a minute about what girls/women deal with *absent* the boy/man to even “defile” them. We’re told in various ways how inherently high-maintenance our genitalia are and all the ways it is gross and “other” before a penis even touches it (if it ever does). We’re also told that behaving in ways that express our sexuality/is perceived as expressing our sexuality cannotes psychological problems. That is only scratching the surface. Bottom line, being told that somehow only *male* sexuality is seen as “dirty” is incredibly frustrating. On top of that, we’re already not allowed to be seen as sexual creatures as it is.

            • Bottom line, being told that somehow only *male* sexuality is seen as “dirty” is incredibly frustrating.
              I think that frustration is a reflection of years of men being told that we are inherently dirty (instead of sugar and spice and everything nice), are supposed to be dirty (“real men” are dirty apparently), exist to get women dirty (because it’s all about the sex for us supposedly), and that that dirt is a defining part of being male.

              Girls/women are told that they have to do all those things in order to stay clean. Boys and men are told that we cannot be clean period.

              Like Xakudo said pretty much everyone loses.

    • Colette Wedding says:

      Exactly. I think the problem think that if “dirty” can be synonymous with “predatory,” which accurately describes the negative result of viewing (het) male sexuality as an always-on unstoppable force which everybody around them must tip-toe around, then it can’t apply to views on female sexuality.

      Het women aren’t supposed to desire sex and thus anything implying the contrary is chalked-up to pathology, treachery, or immorality (also synonymous with “dirty”). As the receptacles, our genitalia are volatile and soiled upon use/perception of use or the slightest hint a woman may desire sexual pleasure without first the validation of a man. Simultaneously, both we and our genitalia have a shelf-life; regardless of contact with a penis, we’ll wither up and becomes useless eventually!

  32. While it’s not sending such a picture I have seen a woman with a picture of her disembodied vulva as the profile picture. There were several actually on the same site, and plenty of male profiles with dick pics. Seems it was accepted behaviour on that site.

    But in general female sexuality is seen as pure, good and desireable while male sexuality is dirty, bad and even straight women are expected to wish they didn’t need men to have sex. The result is that it’s culturally meaningful for a man to try to push his sexuality on a woman but not the other way around.

    Some people probably just want to be vulgar/rude/make the recipient uncomfortable which doesn’t require a penis of your own to do it with. Take for instance Rebecca Watson (noted for crusading against among other things dick pics) sending an ASCII drawing of an erect penis to the Coffee Loving Skeptic

  33. 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…

    Honestly, I don’t think most of these men think it’s attractive, or that it’s likely to get them dates. They’re just the internet version of a street flasher who gets off on sexually harassing random people, only a bit more cowardly.

    • I wish I could edit my comment! I wanted to add that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sending cock shots (or vag shots) to someone you’re already in a sexual relationship with- I’m just speaking about unsolicited pictures from strangers above.

  34. Why? Why? WHY DO PEOPLE DO THIS?
    I’d wager that some of them are overcompensating for the fact that they have had the whole “size does matter” bit tossed in their faces a few too many times. I mean even now when someone wants to insult a man the first thing they reach for is his penis size.

    If people want guys to stop doing stuff like that then quit hanging penis size over our heads like it’s the only measuring stick for how much of a man we are.

    • I agree, people REALLY need to stop acting like penis size not only matters, but that it matters more than anything else about a man. I know that some women do indeed exploit insecurities about penis size. However, I would guess that at least half of the insecurities are caused by other men. For example, the idea that only a super-huge penis can satisfy a woman is baffling to me, as I and I’m sure a lot of women know that a super-huge penis can cause a hell of a lot of pain if sex is not conducted with great care. Where the hell did this idea come from? I really think that any woman who has slept with a few men and seen a range of penis sizes will not be able to make any real (i.e. not made up to make someone feel worse/better) correlation between how good the sex was and how large the penis was. You can have amazing sex with a man with a penis of any size.

  35. Dan Savage has a hypothesis about this, related to your #6. Maybe only a small minority of women are turned on by cock pics, but it’s that minority that the cock-pic-sender is interested in getting in touch with. The most efficient way to find those women is to spam everyone’s inboxes with cock pics. (As you acknowledge, these women do exist.) I have no idea whether this hypothesis is right, but it seems believable to me.

    • abyssobenthonic says:

      Possibly related bit of research to support this, regarding the Nigerian 419 scam emails:

      Though Nigeria is well known as the source of such tricks (called 419 scams after the relevant paragraph in that country’s criminal code), many crooks make puzzlingly little attempt to hide their origins. In a new paper*, Cormac Herley of Microsoft Research has used maths to show why: blatancy is a means of weeding out all but the most credulous respondents.

      He argues that scammers are rational actors. A big cost for them is the time they spend coaxing fully into their net those who show initial interest. So they need to select the most promising targets, rather than timewasters or the wary. “By sending an e-mail that repels all but the most gullible, the scammer gets the most promising marks [victims] to self-select,” he says. But the absurd stories and rum prose are not necessarily works of art. Scammers may simply reuse the e-mails that work best.

  36. mustang sally says:

    There might be a kind of safety in taking a cock-shot rather than a full-body shot. First, because a hard dick doesn’t project vulnerability – it’s the eyes, not the balls, that are the window to the soul. Second, who can really say it’s yours for sure? I have sent breast-pics to men (men I was already sleeping with!) but hesitate to send a picture that includes my chest and face. Even though it’s all coming from my cell phone so it’s really an imagined safety.

    I have not been the recipient of a penis pic, but I have been the recipient of surprise Skype masturbating (by someone I knew, sort of). I think the penis-owner takes pleasure in having someone looking at his hard member. I don’t think he necessarily thinks it’s the “most attractive thing he can do.” More like he knows that most women don’t necessarily want to look at it, but maybe he’ll find one that does and how awesome will that be?! Not sure if I qualify or not. It didn’t turn me on exactly, but I did watch the whole thing.

  37. You missed the possibility that they might just be exhibitionists – it might have little or nothing to do with the recipient, beyond her being female.

  38. Supposedly, the only reason men bother to get those HUGE MUSCLES is to compensate for their penis size. Just like how every man who has a nice car, big house, aggressive personality or plays extreme sports is accused of doing so to overcompensate for their small penis. As a man who likes to lift weights, surf and ride BMX, this trend offends me greatly.

    The message is clear: If your penis isn’t long enough (it never is) nothing you do means anything. When men are told that their worth is solely determined by the size of a body part that is covered up 99% of the time, does it come as any surprise that some of us believed it and now think their erect penis is the only thing that matters? Does it come as any surprise that those who do open up online conversations by showing what they think is their only trait that’s important?


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