"… it's kind of sweet and sad at the same time when you open up your phone and there's just a giant cock on it."

Have you ever received a picture message of a human penis and wondered, wide-eyed and mouth agape, “What is the meaning of this?"

"Whyyy?!" you shout to an unfair god with your arms raised towards the heavens.

While sending dick pics is a beyond-common occurrence, the motivations for their release are confusing, at best. Men know that no one starts insta-ovulating at the mere sign of a flesh tube, so, why do they send them? What are they trying to accomplish? What is the meaning of life?

We wanted to find out. So, we did what we do best and accosted various young adults with one searing question: "Why do you send dick pics?" for the guys and "What do you think of them?" for the ladies. We interviewed men and women of all sexualities, ages, and relationship statuses to get to the bottom of this fleshy beef stick photography craze.

Male Reasoning

1. They earnestly think you want to see them

“No, I have never sent a dick pic. I've learned from various friends that no matter how secret you think something may be, if it's on the Internet or shared digitally, it's pretty much out there forever. Of course there are egotistical types that I feel have self-image problems as well as communication problems. But there are also caring boyfriends/husbands that want to "share" with their significant others reluctantly or not. Some guys self-project the idea that since it’s a female and he's a male that they want to see that regardless of the scenario. I guess the goal would be to score? If not, it’s to not be ridiculed which I think if the picture is sent unwarranted that will surely happen.” Male, 33

“Any guy who’s watched porn would not be fazed by random boob and vagina pics. So, why are women so offended by a random dick pic?” – Male, 21

2. Because they think people like the attention

“Well first off, my dick isn't big enough or pretty enough for me to go around sending it to chicks thinking that I will gain anything from it. Honestly, I have heard of a lot of guys sending girls pictures of their dicks, and I am guessing that they must have got some positive feedback on certain occasions. When it comes to any kind of human behavior that involves physicality we don't seem to be much different than dogs, we learn by reward. I think a lot of girls, even though they outwardly voice their disapproval, love the attention and are horny sick fucks just like men. Even if my dick were more photogenic I still think that I would refrain from sending dick pics because it seems animal, mindless, disrespectful and degrading to both the recipient and the sender.” Male, 26

3. Creative self expression

“There is an art to taking one, if you want it to work you have to take a picture of you holding your dick and it has to look too heavy for your hand to hold it.” Male, 27

“I used to send dick pics to basically anyone who would have them… It's definitely an expression of power in some sense. It's the epitome of your masculinity; it's what makes you a man — what good am I but it?” – Male, 30

4. The harrasment aspect is weirdly hot to some dudes

“I think that 'lashing out' towards women on online dating sites, whether harmless annoyance or genuine harassment, is caused by being ignored so thoroughly by so many women. After a while, women on these sites aren't people with feelings; they're just thousands of profiles who all seem to dislike you for completely unknown reasons. Dick pics are, I think, a very specific form of this harassment — probably from guys who are more on the narcissistic side and perhaps overly confident about their bodies… The end goal of this little game is to elicit some kind of reaction — good, bad, or otherwise.” – Male, 29

5. It's free porn

“I’ve mostly sent [dick pics] after a few flirtations back and forth with girls I’ve met online who seemed to want to hook up. Who wouldn’t want to be sent free porn?” – Male, 30

6. Guys think they're being thoughtful. Aww.

“I like pictures of vaginas from women. Why don't women like pictures of penises? I don't get it.” – Male, 24

Tommy, a 32-year-old from New York, used a more literary explanation: "Anais Nin once said, 'We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.' I would be over the moon if some woman sent me a picture of any nudity whatsoever, so I assume that women feel the same way.” – Male, 29

7. It states their intention pretty, pretty clearly

"Sending a dick pic is the same thing as saying "I want to fuck you." I'm not gonna send one to a girl I wan't to date right off the bat." – Male, 27

"If you send a photo of your penis to someone, it's because you want someone to do something with that penis. The picture makes people think about what that would be." – Male, 25

8. They think you'll return the favor

"If I want see a girl naked, I'll send her a dick pic. It's just common courtesy to send one back." – Male, 22

9. Because someone asked for one

"I've had a lot of men ask to see pictures of my cock. They were polite, so I sent one." – Male, 24

"Especially with online dating, girls want to know what you're working with because they can't see it in person. A lot of times once you start talking to them on Tinder or something, they'll ask for a dick pic so they know you're not a robot or there's no deal-breaking thing about your penis for them." – Male, 29

“Dick pics? Yeah bro… who hasn’t. Well, my deal was I was hooking up with this married chick who was divorcing her husband. They lived in the same house but in different rooms. She was very catholic and he was the only guy she had ever been with so things started to go along and I started to ask her to send me sexy pics of herself so she did and it really started to turn her on to do that. Then she sheepishly asked if I would send her pics of me. So I did and she REALLY liked that. I did it before with another girl but it was the same deal, she asked me first after sending me pics of herself. I have never just sent one on my own or was ever the first one to ask. I think it has to be the girls request but I guess you could nudge her a bit and if she is not into it then it won’t work. It’s all about what turns her on. – Male, 46

10. Because they don't know what else to say

"When I see a hot girl, I just send a dick pic because I have no idea what to say to her." – Male 27

"It really is the best pickup line." – Male, 19

Recipient Reaction

"I feel like girls take dick pics too seriously. Guys think they're being nice when they send them … it's kind of sweet and sad at the same time when you open up your phone and there's just a giant cock on it." – Female, 25

"It feels like guys are thinking, “What do you think of this?” I’m just gonna leave this here for you," which makes no sense to me. Does that make sense to you?" – Female, 25

“I enjoy a good dick pick from someone I want a dick pick from.” Female, 30

“If someone ever sent me one I would be scared.” Female, 24

“I'd say it's situational. It totally depends on who's sending them and when.” – Female, 26

“Dick pics ruin lives. I found out my ex, Brian was actually gay when he was using Facebook on my old phone. My guy friend who I was talking to at the time sent me hot body pics and dick pics. My ex saw those and I told my friend that my ex was probably jacking off to the pics of him. My ex responded that he was, sent an emo pic of only his face, tried to win the love of my friend, and then finally logged the fuck off. Since then, I heard people tried to throw him off his balcony porch because my ex owes them a ton of money and everybody hates him because he's dumb and has a spoiler on his yellow Volkswagen beetle. So, yes, dick pics do make a huge impact. One dick pick ruined my ex's life.”   Female, 23

"I pretty much live on air, water and dick pics. They're fucking hot. It's hot to see a guy show his masculinity." – Male, 32

"They can really kill the mood if they're bad. There have been a lot of guys who I was into before I saw a photo of their dick, and once I saw it, I was done. You have to have a nice one to send dick pics." – Female, 23

"Dick pics feel really entitled and presumptions to me. Like if I wanted to see your dick, I'd ask." Female, 33

"Meh, whatever. I much prefer face/chest photos." – Male, 26


… So, what did we learn? There's no generalizing the difficult science of dick pic sending; there's a million and one motivations behind it … and there's a million and two reactions to the engorged sub-torso cylinders of the world.

However, the men that send them do seem to be sending them in earnest because they think they're being direct, honest, and giving. Chances are they really thought you'd like it … and in some cases you do, just as long as it's not bifurcated and covered in vajazzles. Fascinating.

by Ryan Sutherland [Originally published on October 9, 2017]