Throughout history, men have felt entitled to women’s bodies. Today, this entitlement often translates to the sharing of pictures of genitalia, especially without invitation. After a couple of conversations surrounding the topic of so-called dick pics, The Acorn decided to conduct a poll to see how often people receive unsolicited pictures of a penis. The results were disappointing, but not at all surprising.
Of the respondents, 70% said that they have received a picture of a penis without asking for it. This raises a question of consent that should already be in every college student’s mind. Aside from the gender of the people who answered the poll, we do not have any other demographic information on the participants. However, this does not deny that there is a serious problem of sexual harassment and rape culture across college campuses in the country.
Sexism in society has allowed for women’s bodies to be objectified and for sexual harassment and violence to be overlooked and even allowed. In the context of women being raped and beaten, it might seem almost trivial to focus on what one could describe as “harmless pictures.” But the truth is that dick pics are the perfect example of how little restraint men are taught to exercise when trying to express their sexuality. One of the comments that we got on the Acorn poll about dick pics was the perfect example of how this situations usually go: “I gave him my number to work on a class project, after the project was done he texted me and asked if I would like to go out sometime. He had been very nice so I said yes and he immediately sent me a dick pic.” In this story, like in many others, she had already showed interest and agreed to go out with him, and yet he decided to ruin it with a completely unnecessary action.
Sending unsolicited dick pics often doesn’t signify that are you are hoping for sex, but rather that you expect it. This reinforces the power dynamic between men and women, where women are expected to be subservient. Unsolicited nude pictures are just one situation where, rather than using words to ask for consent, men assume that they already have. Dismissing these pictures as trivial is one example of how society expects women to accept unwanted sexual advances, rather than expecting men to practice restraint.
Expressing one’s sexuality is perfectly normal, and in many settings exchanging nude pictures is perfectly acceptable. But, as it was said by Luna Merbruja, a contributing writer for Everyday Feminism, “When you send an unwanted dick pic, you are forcing someone into a sexual situation they did not consent to.” In the past, a man who flashed his dick to a woman on the street would be charged with at the very least public indecency, if not sexual harassment or assault. People need to understand that the gross phenomenon of the dick pic is simply modern day flashing. You, the person sending the unrequested dick pics, are the creep wearing nothing under his trench coat waiting around the corner to wave his dick at the first woman who walks by. But rather than face the horrified screams that would accompany the moment in person, the owners of these dicks are able to send the pictures with the buffer of technology. They are able to escape the same repercussions. They are able to evade the embarrassed and disgusted reactions of the girl opening the photo. But they need to understand that in no circumstances is an involuntary dick pic ever appreciated.