Ever open up a pic that's been sent to you, but is entirely unexpected – and unwanted? Yep, Rosemary Mac Cabe's talking dick pics – the social media phenomenon that's got our stomachs churning.
Tell a social media cynic you’re on Snapchat, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that they’ll bring up the elephant in the messaging app’s closet: dick pics. For years, Snapchat was known as a distinctly teenage thing, and one that was, more often than not, used to send dirty messages back and forth between people who didn’t have to be concerned about where those snaps would end up.
But times have changed, and now the app – the fastest-growing in the world and the most popular among 15- to 25-year-olds – is becoming a broadcasting tool for media folk; PR mavens (@jamesksnaps) and bloggers (that’d be @sosueme_ie) galore.
But the lingering threat of the dick pic hasn’t gone away. In fact, for those whose snaps are open – that is, so that anyone who’s following them can send them private pictures or messages – each unknown snapper has the potential to be sending a distinctly unwelcome surprise.
My first was from a man with an unremarkable username. This isn’t unusual; a large majority of Snapchatters don’t use their real names, preferring handles that refer to their favourite colour, place of birth or, very frequently, er, Barry’s Tea. There were two pics, side by side: one front on, taken in the mirror in what looked like a residential bathroom; while, in the other, he stood in profile, with his little lad standing to attention.
Make no bones about it (sorry); no matter how special a specimen, there’s nothing enticing about opening your inbox to an unwanted dick pic – and unfortunately, they’re not all that rare, either. “I think I’m on about four now,” says blogger Gina Kiely, while make-up artist Tara O’Farrell puts her count at “four or five – not loads.”
The resounding reaction from these women, who open their snaps to photographs of penises belonging to men they don’t know, is: why? “I’m so curious as to what they think!” says Tara. “What’s going through their heads? Are they like, oh, she’s going to open that and definitely get back to me!?”
Gina thinks the motivation is not quite so ambitious – the last one she received was after she’d snapped a photograph of some macarons her boyfriend’s dad had bought her. “And the caption was, ‘my boyfriend’s dad brought these back from Paris.’ And this guy screengrabbed that, and messaged me saying, ‘I’m horny.’ I mean, the caption was, I have a boyfriend! There’s nothing I’m going to do with this information.”
Psychologists think the act of dick pick sending is fairly easy to work out: it’s a crude, cut to the chase sexual mating call, and one that’s telling you in no uncertain terms “I’m horny. Are you?” Others think it’s a worrying sign of sexual entitlement among men, and that it’s something that should only happen between consenting adults.
What’s going through their heads? Are they like, oh, she’s going to open that and definitely get back to me!?
Tara wonders if perhaps it’s the act of sending – and knowing that the photograph have been received – that brings the thrill. “I’d love to know what they get from it,” she remarks. “Are they satisfied with just knowing that you’ve seen it? Does that make them feel good about themselves?”
Gina, on the other hand, finds the sending of the explicit photographs slightly disturbing – “if you were to do that on the street, you’d be arrested” – and declares, “when that’s step one, you don’t want to know what levels that person can go to.”
The real truth is, of course (sorry lads) that penises just aren’t that attractive to begin with. “I’m engaged, and obviously I wouldn’t ever say anything about my guy’s,” laughs Tara. “But I just don’t think they’re a particularly attractive thing!”
Both women agree that the only way to deal with it is to block, and move on – although we reckon the chances of any woman reacting otherwise are very, very slim.
Psst! This article first appeared in STELLAR’s November 2015. Our January/February issue is on shelves now!
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