Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The infamous "dick pic"

Don't think rape culture is alive and well? Try being a single woman on a dating site.

We often choose partners based on physical attraction, and sex is a natural part of any healthy relationship. Dating sites are obviously sexual territory, but sometimes, it's hard to know how to navigate that territory. I would be remiss if I didn't write about sexual consent on a site about my (mis) adventures in dating. I learned a lesson with a man I'll call Scott.

I connected with Scott on a popular dating site, but as it turned out, I went to high school with him. He tracked me down on social media and "connected." Then came the random compliments in private messages: "That's a lovely photo of you" he'd said in a message referring to my profile photo. When I didn't respond, he messaged again, confessing to "stalking" me on social media (so charming) after I'd accepted his friend request - something that "surprised and flattered" him. When he messaged again asking what I was up to, I decided against my better judgment to engage with idle chit chat. As I typed about the mundane activities of my day, poof, there's the "dick pic" in my inbox.

Ah, the infamous dick pic. It seems dating in the 21st century almost always involves the objectification of some random body part in explicit photos sent randomly to an often unsuspecting victim. Seriously. Imagine this in real life. You're minding your own business, folding laundry or doing dishes when suddenly, a dick pops up from thin air, narrowly missing your left eye. The dick pic is nothing less than electronic exhibitionism, minus the naked man under the trench coat. 

This was not my first time in the dick pic rodeo, unfortunately. Months prior, "Justin," an average-looking, 43-year-old, divorced journeyman and father of two, ages seven and nine, was also a seemingly unlikely culprit. As I returned from work, my daughter and I ventured to Target for some supplies for a school project. Driving home with my kiddo right next to me in the passenger's seat, I looked down to find my iPhone lit up with an out-of-the-blue photo of a ruddy-colored, slightly curved Johnson on the home screen. 

I shook my head and, when I returned home, gave him more benefit of the doubt than he deserved with a polite retort explaining that I was not looking for a "hook up." I asked him to please refrain from sending such unsolicited photos to me again as it was quite awkward with my daughter sitting next to me. He apologized profusely. Good. I'd gotten through.

Except, the following day, when I received not only another picture of his package but the words "don't you want to ride it," in blocky text, I wasn't so forgiving and simply blocked his number. 

Sexual consent is something I actually talk openly about in my classes at a local university where I teach. Universities and college campuses across the country have included modules on sexual consent for incoming freshmen. Recent cases like that of Brock Turner, the "Stanford Rapist," have prompted much discussion about sexual consent. 

Often, dating sites are used as nothing more than places where sexual predators scour the net searching for their next victim. I offer this very real message as a case in point. Normally, I de-identify the account-holder's name but in this case, I chose to let it stand unaltered. The only thing I blocked out are the choice expletives "Gary" used to describe the act of sex.

This was the first message I received "Gary," straight-out-of-the-gate.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing doesn't just happen on dating sites. I recently had repairs done on a hitch on my car at a local moving truck company. The manager, who I have de-identified in the photo below, looked me up on Facebook a week after doing work on my car and sent me this message on Facebook Messenger. 

So, guys, we realize this might be difficult territory, but how can you let a girl know you like her "that way" without being all rapey?

Sexual consent is important even and maybe especially in the area of texting. Unless a woman explicitly asks for a photo of your Johnson, don't do it. Again, you wouldn't walk up to a random person you just met and whip out your wiener. If you did, you'd be arrested. Follow the same etiquette online. Not only that, it's creepy and awkward to receive an explicit photo out of the blue.

Until next time!