When an unexpected package lands in Nadine Higgins’ inbox, she has some questions.
“My 30th is in a couple of weeks, would you have a drink with me to celebrate?”
“I have the biggest crush on you.”
“You probably get this all the time, but you have the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.”
So far, so persistent – but also, so benign. That is, until his penis pops up in my Instagram inbox. That wanton willy lands with a thud.
If a picture speaks a thousand words, what doth a dick speak of?
Is it some kind of penile power move? Is it just a ploy for attention? Is it code for, “I’d love to see a picture of your bits, so here’s a picture of mine”? Is it shorthand of the shorthand “DTF”? Was I supposed to be impressed? Turned on? Flattered?
I’m unsure if it’s a message that says, “I’m into you”, or just, “I’m really into myself”. If the latter, I envy such a strong sense of self-admiration. While I’m over here picking at my every flaw, here he is, wang out and welcoming women to worship it.
Except there is no willy worship happening here, just a deep sense of… yuck.
I needed someone to share in my disgust, so I took a screenshot and sent it to my sister-in-law.
We’d just been talking about the men sliding into my DMs asking me to send them pairs of my undies – what the actual? – when this unprompted prick appeared.
We laughed at the trouser snake tactic, but I actually felt kinda queasy.
It feels… aggressive. I mean, if this stranger had flashed me his wee willy winkie in a dark alley, I’d have called the cops because that would be a criminal offence (Indecent Exposure, punishable by three months in jail or a $2000 fine).
But in the online world, knobs sending out their knobs is somehow par for the course.
Instead, it suddenly dawned on me that by sending it on, even unidentified, I was the one who’d potentially committed some sort of internet offence.
I wasn’t sure if I was being a prude in my outrage of that predicament, so I decided to crowdsource some schlong stories.
I checked in with a few friends who know their “swipe left” from their “swipe right” – I wondered if perhaps a pork sword lands better when it’s not via an app best known for selfies, pictures of food, and influencers plugging collagen powder?
I have no experience of Tinder, Bumble, Hinge or any other dating app, and worried that maybe dick pics had become de rigueur in the digital dating game.
I learnt that you can’t send photos through Tinder, but a few friends had received them through Bumble, which means they’ve at least decided they have some interest in the guy before the pic lands (although the consensus seemed to be their interest would fizzle at that precise moment).
My gay friends had an entirely different take on dick pics, which in short seemed to be that seeing the goods displayed online is essential research before seeing it in person.
The girls in their mid-20s in my office were delighted to discuss dick pics – none had received any, but one admitted to feeling a bit disappointed by that fact.
At risk of really overanalysing the offending appendage, I turned back to the platform – Instagram.
In an incredibly unscientific poll, 19 percent of respondents told me they’d received an unsolicited dick pic, and 3 percent told me they’d sent one.
The stories I then heard made the fun I’d been having with synonyms for penis seem puerile.
“It was awful, and he followed up with a jizz shot.”
“It was random, out of the blue, and from someone I thought was my friend.”
“It felt like such a violation of my personal space.”
“I was sent one by a guy I went to the gym with. I felt revolted.”
“On buses, kids AirDrop porn or raunchy gifs to anyone with their AirDrop set to ‘everyone’. I know a girl who was sent dick pics five times in a row on the school bus.”
There’s plenty of advice online about what to do if private content of you is shared without your consent, but the sum total of the advice available if you’ve received an eyeful of a raging hard-on is “ask them not to” or “block them”.
I again imagine the scenario of the flasher in a dark alley and in that context simply closing your eyes or saying, “Please sir, don’t do that” makes that seem like rather flawed advice.
But in the absence of any other advice, I decided I’d send the guy a message.
“Hi, um, you appear to have sent me a picture of your dick. Can I ask – why did you do that?”
Then I hold my breath, feeling less like a crusader on behalf of offended eyeballs everywhere, and more concerned that I’ve just opened comms with someone who communicates with his pecker.
A few hours after seeing my message, he replies: “Hi, to be honest, I don’t even remember doing it, haha maybe I was drunk. I’ve always found you incredibly sexy though.”
Oh, jeez. So, a phallus is meant to be flattery? This guy can’t be trusted to be in charge of his own appendage when under the influence.
Aware I was unlikely to glean any startling revelations, I decided I could at least impart some home truths. “Some advice for you – sending a dick to a stranger isn’t a compliment. It’s creepy, dysfunctional and unwelcome. Oh, and it gets you blocked”.
Before I had the chance to follow through on that, he replied with, “I apologise sincerely.”
I was about to reply, “That’s okay!”, but I settled on, “Thank you for apologising”, because actually, it’s not okay. (And then I did indeed block him).
A dick can be an object of desire, of course – and maybe getting an anonymous or uninvited one even has a certain allure for you.
But a hot tip for all those in possession of a penis: if someone hasn’t asked to see it, chances are they don’t want to see it.
Fancying them is not a reason to send them a wanton willy. Wanting their attention is not a reason to drop a dick into their DMs. The only reason to send them a picture of your package is that they’ve asked to see that sausage in all its glory.
If you are among those champing at the bit to see pictures of peen, I say, good for you. Go get that digital dick – there is certainly no shortage of them looking for an audience.