Ah ha! Finally a subject!
… Sorry, what I meant to say was male sexual needs and the subtext of displaying one’s penis. But dick pics will do as shorthand.
I saw a couple people (including George Takei) share this link today. The promise was to get the reasoning behind dick pics from the horse’s mouth (or budgie’s mouth, as it were). Men who have done it can share why they do it, and what it all means, and what happens when the police get involved.
Now let me start by saying: I’ve never been the recipient of an unsolicited dick pic. No, that isn’t an invitation. I’ve never been the recipient of a solicited dick pic either, but that’s just because I’ve never solicited one. “Provide me with a photo of your penis” just isn’t a sentence that comes up in conversation all that much. And perhaps I am now too old (over 35) and too frumpy and have been out of the dating game for (thankfully) too long to have had to wend my way through a forest of surprise phalluses on my phone. To be clear, sending me a picture of your penis would be about as interesting to me as sending me a picture of your elbow. I (probably) wouldn’t laugh, but there’s nothing about it that’s sexy either.
So what struck me about the stories shared on that page wasn’t the old adage that these men hope to get into a game of “if I show you mine, you’ll show me yours”. Some are clearly hoping for that outcome, but most seem to be doing it for a reaction – any reaction. What I saw coming through most was this notion that the men simply wanted to feel desirable, and they were hoping that this action would work to meet that emotional need… which is terribly sad when you think about it. And I don’t mean that it’s pathetic – it inspires empathy in me.
It’s a very human thing to want to be desired. I think we probably all want that. And (rightly or wrongly) we live in a world where women are presented with very clear constructs on how to gain the sexual interests of men. This doesn’t mean that it’s a game that all women manage well (or even one that all women want to play) but at least we have this vague idea that a peek-a-boo bra or high-cut teddy will probably work on somebody, even if our body type is far from the ideal model we’re force-fed. Women get sold a wide range of products that we accept can signpost a path to desirability (note: not everyone’s signposts are the same). We teach women (and men) that men want sex pretty much all the time so all heterosexual women have to do is look available, according to someone’s faulty interpretation of what “available” looks like. It’s a reality that can make life suck for young women who happen to have big boobs and a small waist and big hips, because for some people the interpretation of “available” attaches to an age and body style rather than any choice or action that woman takes.
In this small way, men can possibly sympathise. Because the other half of that story is the notion that men want sex all the time, so they are available all the time, and therefore they don’t need to showcase their sexual urges because they are inherently sexual objects without even trying. Again, it’s a complete fallacy (phallusy?) but it affords men no real framework for gaining the sexual interest of women amid a sea of other sexually competitive men. Men don’t get sold lingerie. Men don’t get signposts to point out how sexy they are. When it comes to male desirability, it seems that either you’ve got it or you don’t.
Perhaps on account of this, I’ve heard plenty of men espouse some very flawed thinking about what women actually find desirable. Wealth? Bollocks. An expensive or fast car? Bollocks. Bollocks? Bollocks.
So what’s the answer?
I’m a big proponent of the theory that male and female sexual desire actually matches in intensity. Many men (and women) will argue me on this point, but I think that anyone who has stood amid the screaming hordes at a rock concert would be willfully ignorant to assume that those girls flinging their underwear at the stage really just want to make the lead singer a nice hot cup of tea. The fact is that women have very, very few outlets available to safely display their sexual drive, so we tend to keep it well hidden. Men can show the world that they want sex. Women who do the same might just get raped and then blamed by society for “wanting” it. That fear is something women internalise very deeply… so we fling our panties at The Beatles but keep all real boys at arm’s length so people don’t judge us. It doesn’t mean we don’t want them; we’re just afraid.
Of course, the knowledge that women really, really want sex is even more troubling to men who feel unsuccessful at attracting them. You can’t all be Tom Jones, and even Tom Jones probably isn’t really Tom Jones. Fantasies rarely live up to snoring, scratching, boring reality. But if the answer to desirability lay only in sweaty dressing rooms then the human race would have died out long ago. The fact is that most heterosexual men and women succeed in attracting one another eventually, and that’s largely driven by the simple fact that we’re inherently driven to find one another attractive.
To be clear, there are lots of things that are sexy about men. Men’s voices are sexy. Their blunt hands are sexy. The little line of hair from their navel to their pubes is sexy. The way their backs curve like a cobra when you push them away: sexy. The black deodorant can by the bathroom sink: sexy. The big boots by the back door. The beads of sweat on the back of their necks. Even their love handles are actually pretty sexy… When you’re a firmly heterosexual woman: virtually everything about men is sexy. Men are glorious.
In this way the answer is far simpler than most dick-pic-senders could clearly guess. You don’t need a big wallet or a big penis to be desirable. You already are desirable. You just don’t believe it.
And (believe it or not) this is something I can sympathise with. Because it’s definitely not true that women feel the power of desirability all the time. We all look around us and feel like we’re not keeping up with the competition. We all feel ugly and rejected. And we all get rejected. And the more desperate or needy we look, the more rejected we get. From the outside, it might look easy for women to be able attract men… but that’s mostly because the observer finds women attractive. It’s definitely not that easy when you’re inside the reject bubble, looking at all the other heinous, evil cows who somehow get a loving boyfriend while all you have is your ramen noodles.
So what I got from the exposé on dick pics was that some men within the reject bubble just don’t have the foggiest idea how to break out of it… and in their desperate attempts they probably succeed in driving away more interest than they gain. It’s kind of like fishing by trying to hit the water with a stick. Most of the fish simply flee. The one you succeed in catching might have been half-dead already. Either way, it doesn’t mean that you know how to fish.
So, again, what’s the answer?
The same answer that it always was (and is for everybody): confidence, integrity, kindness, not being a nutcase… these are the qualities that human beings tend to find attractive in other human beings. Sure, there are some misguided souls who blessedly go after the partner they can “fix”, but most learn from the experience. There is no amount of peek-a-boo bras or 10-inch dongs which will make up for being a horrible person, and if you ask around you’ll likely find that most people aren’t that stoked for those things anyway. We’d much rather be with someone we can trust and someone who we know desires us as much as we desire them…
Desire. The urge to be wanted is such a fundamental need for all of us. How can we really blame anyone for that?
Now please don’t send me a picture of your penis. I will 100% post it online, possibly with a link to your employer.