When the Utsav Chakraborty story blew up on my timeline, it took a while for me to wrap my head around it. Utsav’s a senior from college and I have seen the guy around campus being inconsequential and nondescript. After college, I heard of him as the popular Twitter handle, @satanbhagat, and his provoking criticism of Chetan Bhagat (mother of ironies, anyone?), which finally led to the Mumbai Mirror coup of getting them to meet and interview each other. A few years later, Utsav had become a comedian. He started off “meh” and went on to become “woke”. Fast forward to last month and I read about Utsav the creep, the perv, and the dick-pic-sending spineless-disgusting-piece-of-shit.
Why do men send photographs of their genitalia? During sexting, it’s kinky and, most importantly, consensual. It has been asked for. And even in today’s #MeToo climate, we must remember that consensual sex and kinky indulgences of every kind is OKAY. What has never been okay is to invade somebody’s privacy without invitation. “Sliding into DMs” might be a phrase casually flung around, but in all seriousness, let’s stop with the casual obscurantism and be clear about the fact that it isn’t. Continuously pestering someone with propositions to meet or fuck is not okay. Asking for photographs of their bodies is not okay. Sending a string of photos of your genitalia is NOT OKAY.
“I don’t understand why men don’t get this: a stranger’s dick and balls don’t make a pretty picture.” My friend M angrily tells me. I have gone through M’s Instagram and Facebook inboxes and I always find random guys texting her with zero invitation. One guy sent “Hello fuck me” every day for two weeks straight. Another thought it was appropriate to text “I like your boobs show me more” after she uploaded photos from a beach holiday. And then, I counted a total of 20 men, who had opened the conversation with at least 4-5 photos of their erect cocks. I scrolled through ugly, low-res, low-light, noise-heavy photos of penises of men who didn’t think it was even important to say hello. I was disgusted.
I spoke to 25 women for this story. All of them had received unsolicited dick pics from strangers. “I appreciate that they are straight up about the fact that all they want is a fuck,” S tells me. “They are not leading anybody on, trying to be in a relationship or anything of that sort. These are just repressed, horny men who, in my opinion, do not know how to approach a woman and tell her that he really wants to fuck her. They don’t know what wooing is, flirting is, pick up lines are. Let’s be real: only a small percentage of urban and educated men know how to not be creepy while flirting. That’s how bad the state of grooming and etiquette is in this country. If this is how sad it is in the metros, how can you expect other cities and towns to do better? And, it’s not even like the metros are at par, right? Look at how men in Delhi behave!” I was amazed at the fact that S was trying to make sense of this ugly behaviour. Understandably, my friend A wasn’t that polite. “It is horrifying. I am sorry if I fail to understand how pulling your pants down, stroking yourself to a hard-on and then clicking photos is easier than just texting “wanna fuck?” See, I am ready to throw wooing and charm and conversation out of the window. I accept that’s asking for too much. But how is a dick pic an easier way to proposition sex?”
In my opinion, this behaviour also stems from narcissism sometimes. A film producer I was quite pally with was really interested in hooking up with me. I had denied his advances quite firmly many times but the man didn’t stop pestering. One night, on text, he asked me why I wasn’t attracted to him, to which I replied that physical attraction really cannot be forced upon someone. He responded with a bunch of photos of his member and followed them up with an arrogant “Now?” I was taken aback. What did this man mean? Did he think his cock was the most beautiful piece of art on the planet that I would immediately want to engage with it? And how on earth did he think his cock would change my mind when his intelligence-personality-charm hadn’t? The fact that he thought that his dick should define his allure was heartbreaking and laughable. When I replied with a “that was unnecessary”, He said, “You still don’t want to hook up?!!!!!!!!!! What is wrong with you?” I blocked him.
There is an interesting contradiction here. On gay hook up apps, sending dick pics along while sharing photos of each other, is quite common and accepted behaviour. Bios on Grindr often mention length and the owners boast of their member’s various magical qualities. And that’s an interesting observation: men are not offended by this behaviour which women find absolutely abhorrent. I decided to pry into that. “Given the amount of cock I’ve seen, dick pics are really not a shocker.” B tells me. I had met B at a party once, stayed in touch, and decided to pick his brain on this matter. ““Also, in many cases they help you figure out whether the dude’s photos are actually his. I have had guys send photos of muscled torsos and dick pics which clearly show enormous thighs and a difference in skin colour. Men are assholes.” B laughs it off. Another male friend, T, who identifies as straight tells me that he wasn’t horrified either, when a bunch of guys sent their cock’s photos to him on Instagram. “Was I turned on? Of course not. But it wasn’t a scarring experience. I just made a face and deleted them. See, I’m a model, I post shirtless photos. Men like that and want to hook up. Evidently, they think this is how they can get into my pants.” And just like they don’t know how to behave with women, men don’t know how to behave with men either.
“I also think there is a slight hint of exhibitionism here,” V tells me. Not a stranger to dick pics, V’s had a bunch of men send photos of their penises and then follow it up with “Do you like that?” While nudity is embarrassing, surprisingly, adult men are really not ashamed of someone else seeing their privates. “They have an immense amount of confidence in their cocks. Men allow themselves to be defined by their cocks.” V puts it quite perfectly. A man who is well endowed, doesn’t mind everyone knowing about it. It is jungle mentality. A smaller penis is still seen as an emasculating factor, right? That’s because men don’t understand the importance of foreplay, skill and technique. The penis still is the mascot of masculinity. Social skills, education, talent and sensitivity still come second.
So, when you believe that the seat of your power and personality lies in your pants, is it really surprising that you’d rely on it to open a conversation with people you want to impress?