Why do guys send unsolicited d—k pics? I feel like as I talk to guys, we slowly venture into sexting, then the guy just takes it from zero to 100. I'm interested in him, but the picture just came out of nowhere. Do any girls actually like these things? How do you respond? —Anonymous
Hold up. There’s no such thing as “slowly venturing” into sexting, defined by Dictionary.com as “the sending of sexually explicit photos, images, text messages or emails by using a cellphone or other mobile device.” Sexting implies that you are interested in having sex with the person to whom you send the images.
I’m unclear how you do that slowly. Whatever you sent suggested that you were interested in having sex with him. He responded with a picture of his sexual organ to let you know that he’s also interested, to allow you to gauge his equipment and for you to anticipate what he can do with it. I’m unclear where this guy went wrong here.
That said, I’ve heard plenty of stories about men actually going from “zero to 100” and sending penis pictures when there was no indication whatsoever from the woman that they would be welcomed. I’ve received a set of pictures—yes, plural—from a guy out of the blue. (In my first book, A Belle in Brooklyn, I dedicated an entire chapter to that story.)
Probably, like you, I wondered, “Why?” Had I done something to mislead him? Did he think I was that type of girl?
I never arrived at a solid answer, and your letter finally prompted me to get one, as much for you as for myself. I hit up several guys in my circle to get to the bottom of what I’d started to think of as the “d—k-pic conundrum.” The answers, which the guys gave on the condition of complete anonymity, were fascinating.
First, the “why” should be obvious. “I never understood why my female friends were always so confused as to why dudes sent them,” said one man. “It’s clear that the pic is supposed to incite sexual interest or excitement. Whether you’re grossed out or not, you know damn well why he did it!”
But is a d—k pic a sign that he doesn’t respect you? Most of the guys agreed that wasn’t the case.
“Men don't see it as a form of disrespect,” another gentleman explained. “It's our way of being vulnerable. Most women, especially black women, are very vocal as it pertains to their wants in life. This includes career goals, marriage, family and a sex life. They have made it very clear how they want to be pleased in the bedroom. An unsolicited d—k pic is oftentimes a man’s way of saying, ‘I qualify.’”
In simpler terms, another man explained the pictures “as a way of saying, ‘You interested or nah?’ It’s basically just fishing, throwing the bait out there and hoping something [catches].”
Most of the dozens of men I conversed with understood how many women could perceive the photos as uncouth and ill-mannered. Still, the guys also thought that the guys who sent them ultimately were harmless and women were making a big deal out of nothing. Several suggested that the penis pictures might be one of those circumstances that support the idea that “men are from Mars, women are from Venus”—i.e., the sexes are just wired differently.
“Where men will gush at a picture of some D’s in horrible lighting, women will clutch their pearls and then laugh, especially if the [body part] doesn’t live up to their expectations,” another man explained. “Women want to see for themselves, in person, when the moment presents itself. Not via text. It’s impersonal. Men don’t care. They want to see everything now, regardless of how it’s presented to them.”
Another gentleman thought about the same: “Women—some, not all—aren’t interested in having sex initially, but rather building a relationship and connecting emotionally. Once an emotional connection has been made, the sensual attraction arises. If she is comfortable and feels safe, then she’s ready to have sex with him. Guys, as I’m sure you know, are not wired that way.”
He’s on to something here. Another man made a similar assertion and pointed me to research by Ogas and Gaddam, two neuroscientists who authored A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals About Human Desire. The research partners conducted 18,000 interviews to reach their conclusion about what stimulates men and women, including the vast differences.
In a complete coincidence, a friend had just finished the book and offered the following analysis: “Men are aroused by the sight of female sex organs. A man showing his sex organ to a woman is a primal urge to turn her on as well. This usually happens in person for the purpose of procreation. But in the age of the Internet and social media, the process has become a bit more complicated and impersonal.”
He added: “Whether we realize it or not, [penis pictures] are primal mating rituals as old as humanity itself. Unfortunately, now that the world has gone digital, our small, male, reptilian brains have gone peen crazy and hit the send button in a lustful frenzy to shoot our shot. Sometimes you miss. But sometimes you hit.”
This same gentleman reminded me of a dating seminar I held in Washington, D.C., earlier this year, where a woman told a crowded room about being on the fence about a guy she met. Her interest was piqued only after he sent her an unsolicited photo of his penis. (So yes, to finally answer all of your questions, there are women who like the penis pictures.) The woman liked what she saw on her phone so much that she wanted to see it in person. Unfortunately, when she did, she discovered that the picture the guy sent wasn’t actually of his penis, but an image of someone else’s that he’d found on the Internet. Being catfished by penis pictures is a whole ’nother story, though.
Your guy probably didn’t mean any harm. You shared, and he did, too. But since you’re uncomfortable, tell him plainly that he’s gone too far, and that while that approach may have worked for other women, you find it icky at this point in your dialogue with him. Hopefully he’ll back off and respect your boundaries. If he doesn’t, tell him not to contact you anymore, or you can just feel free to block his number.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously in Ask Demetria: “Should I Buy My Own Engagement Ring?”