Those who know, know. The sudden panic as someone – usually a parent or person equally unsuitable, always less well versed in the subtleties of tech-iquette – begins rapidly scrolling through your camera roll.
An emergency cull after one such incident revealed 18 dick pics and seven videos from four different men. I didn’t realise I had quite such a backlog. No wonder my phone is constantly whingeing that its storage is almost full…
It’s worth noting that these were all men with whom I already had some form of established sexual relationship; I have never been, nor would I take kindly to being, the recipient of an unsolicited penis portrait. No, my collection was instead the by-product of a particular form of flirting that has come of age alongside Generation Rent. When camera-phones took off in the mid-noughties, our curiosity and desire to experiment got the better of us and we started to aim the lens a little further south; we were more than willing to pay that few pence extra for the excitement of sending a saucy picture-message. Today we’re blessed with a whole range of mediums for the free, fast and high-res exchange of images. Whatsapp, Snapchat, Flickr – you name it, someone’s sent nudes on it. This isn’t just popular, it’s commonplace: both sexes baring all for a bit of raunchy fun.
The odd thing is, I didn’t get aroused by any of those images clogging up my phone, bar the ones sent from the guy I was crazy about. There was nothing at all wrong with them; I just didn’t get off looking at them. Generally, I need a bit of bodily context, not a snap of a cock in isolation.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not doing the cyber equivalent of faking an orgasm – feigning pleasure to rapidly bring the event to a close – I thoroughly enjoy and prolong these exchanges with words of encouragement and footage of my own. There I am, back arched to breaking point, tummy sucked in, arm expertly placed so as to make my breasts appear fuller while cleverly masking the splay of arm-fat this invariably entails. Hell, I’ve even gone so far as to Photoshop my vadge to eliminate the five o’clock shadow. I’ve become incredibly dextrous with my phone and, when all else fails, I’ve asked the help of a friend to take something erotic, if not explicit. All to entice an image I will soon forget about, left to linger in my camera roll amongst pictures of my dog and photogenic brunches.
I’ve yet to meet a woman who enjoys receiving cock cartes de visite because they’re arousing in themselves. At the risk of reinforcing the tired old binary of female sexuality as intrinsically emotional compared to the more physical of the male, the consensus seems to be that unless there is a strong level of involvement, women just don’t look at an image of a cock and feel the urge to suck on it. This is in no way akin to sexual passivity. Instead, it seems we’re all engaging in a much more exciting and elaborate form of extended foreplay; a peculiarly 21st century mating ritual.
Send. One tick. Two ticks. Blue ticks. Gotcha!
As with so much in life, it’s less about the object itself, than intent behind it. Call it ego, but there’s something tantalising about a dick standing hard for you when you’re nowhere near it. It’s the build-up of sexual tension, the anticipation made greater by being both physically separate yet visually present. This is animalistic lust meets human technology; a display of physical prowess, of sexual virility, of bodily beauty. It is presenting, luring, and responding.
It’s the exchange that’s exciting. And it’s the exchange that I will reflect upon with a secret smile, heart quickening, lips swelling.
Of course, this all involves a certain level of risk. A leaked photo is humiliating, shaming and, potentially, career-ending. No matter how much legislation is passed to protect us sexy snappers, once a photo’s out, it’s out. But focussing solely on revenge porn and oddball sex-pests has given sexting a rather bum rep. For many of us, it’s a thrilling, healthy, and positive way of exploring our sexuality; not because we’re sex-hungry gluttons, but because we are human, animal beings that enjoy the cut and, um, thrust of sexual exchange.
So, despite the moralist outcry which inevitably accompanies the mere mention of a dick pic, the persistence of the trend suggests that more of us enjoy this erotic repartee than are prepared to admit; it is simply a millennial response to the most primordial of human conditions.