I’ve had a dick pic complex for as long as dick pics have been a category of thing that we talk about. After reading article after article about the sexting youths, I felt pretty left out, as though something was wrong with me. I’d never un-ironically sexted. It just never came up. Maybe this was because I’d never been in a long relationship, where there’s a level of intimacy and comfort conducive to dick-picking, nor had I ever had any purely sexual relationships, in which a guy could send me his penis and I’d be like, “Yeahhhh.” But I’ve always wondered why I wasn't part of the club. Middle-schoolers are sexting, I thought. Why not me? And, how am I supposed to participate in youth culture if I’ve never received a dick pic?
About a month ago, I was discussing my Dick Pic Complex with a close friend, who had also never been graced with a penis picture. “I was never respected enough — or little enough — to get one,” she said, quite eloquently. The dick pic, like sex, has fluid significations; it can evoke intimacy, fun, offense, humor, pleasure, and sometimes disrespect.
I received my first dick pic a couple of weeks ago. It was unsolicited — because who requests dick pics? — and from a guy I met on Tinder. First of all, he was huge, so like, good for him, and way to play to your strengths. But it soon became clear to me that me viewing his erect penis was entirely about his pleasure. My role was simply to be a breathing human woman who looked at the picture. It’s like how some people get a huge amount of pleasure form having sex in front of the mirror. I felt like that mirror: a passive vehicle for his arousal.
The pictures also acted as a sort of plea — he clearly wanted me to send sexy pictures in return. As if I was getting so much delight out of his penis portraits that it would be only fair to send over a topless pic in reciprocation. It’s important to remember there is no such thing as a selfless dick pic.
Once I was initiated into the complex world of sexting psychology, I whipped up a few impromptu rules, because boundaries are important: I would not send a sexy pic to anyone I hadn’t met in person. Naturally, upon hearing this rule, he insisted on brunch that weekend, and he texted and sexted me throughout the week in anticipation. On Saturday morning, however, he texted me that he couldn’t make brunch because he had to work. I never heard from him, or his “seriously packing” penis, again.
His dick pics, as numerous as they were uninspired, were merely part of a special fantasy, a fantasy that demanded my anonymity. The only realness he required of me was to be a human woman with a Tinder picture; I did not need to have opinions about Ukraine, or whether cake is better than pie. Not once did it matter what I wanted out of him.
When I’m not thinking about my next meal, I find myself thinking a lot about the future of dick pics. Where do we go from here? For starters, I think we should be having more open conversations about sexting — conversations that aren't framing the phenomenon as a despicable epidemic. Dick pics happen, and I believe they will continue to happen up until the world bursts into flames from global warming, or however we’re all going to die. And sometimes, dick pics can actually be quite thoughtful and interesting, as are many of the photos on the wonderful Critique My Dick Pic tumblr.
I just worry that too many women are receiving dick pics they don’t want, or that bore them. I feel the same way about mediocre to terrible sex; sex is not something that should be merely tolerated, nor should dick pics. There has to be an open, pleasurable engagement on both sides — and this requires communications with words, not reproductive organs. And I regret that, a few weeks ago with my Tinder flame, I didn’t work up the courage to say, “Hey. Me looking at your penis is a privilege, not a right. Buy me brunch, or leave me the hell alone.” Because in my opinion, sexting is only sexy when you know the person behind the iPhone.