Online Inappropriateness: When Your Inbox Turns XXX

Online Inappropriateness: When Your Inbox Turns XXX

By Amanda Fox

Ladies, have you been the recipient of unwanted advances online – specifically, pictures of men’s genitalia showing up in your inbox? If you have, take heart, you are not alone by a long shot. Also if you have, be angry about it because that isn’t something you should have to deal with. It’s a particular problem among people that work in or spend a large portion of time devoted to social media and it’s been getting a lot worse than usual lately.

 

Today, we’re going to tell you a little bit about what we’ve learned about this practice both from our personal experience and from asking a number of men and women both publicly and privately what they have dealt with regarding the problem. Although tempting, we are not going to expose any identities of the guilty or those who supplied us with insights so don’t expect to find any gossip here. We’re bringing this up because it has been expressed to us this is a problem many women are dealing with but they don’t fully understand why or know what to do about it.

How does it happen?

 

That’s the look it elicits!

Usually, this happens on Facebook or some other platform where messages can be exchanged privately. What usually happens is you open up a direct message and BAM!! There you have some guy’s junk staring back at you. You didn’t ask for it. The overwhelming odds are that you don’t even want it. As the saying goes, what’s been seen can’t be unseen. At that point, assuming you didn’t want that staring back at you in your messages, you can delete it, report the person, or ignore it. You may choose to confront the person even.

 

Who is doing it?

 

The men that are doing it might surprise you. From what we have found talking to 28 women that have received unwanted pictures of male genitalia, it is generally from someone you know – and not in the sense of you are only aware of their name, but someone you’ve actually built some form of friendly/business relationship with. The incidence of “strangers” doing this is very low – only 11 in 74 unique contacts of this nature that we were informed of.

 

Offline, this is what it would probably be like

What may surprise you, but we know all too well, is that these men generally fit a type, and they are generally people that should know better than what they are doing – if for no other reason than they have a grasp of how the Internet works and how nothing is ever truly deleted and can be traced. We confirmed that this has been done by men that are everywhere from somewhat known in a niche to pretty close to online celebrities and everywhere in between.

 

Why do they do it?

 

We weren’t able to get any of our known wienie waggers to give us any insights as to why they do this, but we were able to get a mix of men spanning their early 20’s on up to their mid 60’s to weigh in with some of what they know about the problem.

 

The top three motivations we were provided are:

 

  1.  They find it exciting. Some men get off on exposing them self to unknowing women. Prior to the Internet being as widespread as it is, these are guys that might have flashed women out in the park or something.
  2. They think it’s funny. Several people weighed in saying they know people that do this because they get a kick out of it. It has nothing to do with sexual gratification, it’s just how they get their jollies.
  3. This is their way of flirting. After taking a long look at the responses to this question we were provided, and a lot of the people we saw who have done this, it makes a lot of sense. The Internet has been a cruising ground since as long as anyone can remember and social networking sites are, for many, a mix of business and pleasure – and an efficient one at that. Here’s a real sample case – without the real names. We’ll call these people Jill and Ted.

 

Jill and Ted follow each other on Twitter. After a few months of sporadic, completely non-flirtatious contact, Ted asks Jill for some advice. It can’t be doled out in 140 characters or less, so he asks to connect on Facebook so they can discuss business. A week or so of DM tag goes on and one day Jill opens up her messages and there is a Ted’s latest – a nude photo of himself holding his penis. Like she needed that to start the day . . .

 

It makes you feel like this (image by Lara604)

Jill is in a tough spot. She felt comfortable with Ted until this happened and now she doesn’t. Her first reaction is to block him, but she has other considerations as well. She has spent a couple weeks working up a potential project with Ted and if she bails there is no payoff for her time. If she confronts him with the anger she feels, the odds are he cuts contact with her and she sees no payoff for her time. She could try discussing it with him maturely, but we have to question the maturity level of anyone using this as a means to meet women. The last option is she can ignore it and deal with the possibility it happens again because hey – she didn’t take a strong stand against it. And yes, we know some people can afford to throw away a couple weeks of time in a project, but not everyone can, and Jill was one such case of that.

 

A part of the reason many of the men and women we spoke to think the problem is so prevalent is that so many people almost literally live online. Even when they aren’t at their desk or on their laptop they are on their tablet or smartphone. A high res pic can be snapped quickly and privately and sent within seconds, so impulse sometimes takes over. Relationships of varying degrees form fast. Often, people feel like they know someone based on looking at their posts or tweets and have trouble understanding that there is a real flesh and blood person behind the face in the profile picture that might not want to ever think of some random guys bat and balls much less see it.

 

Even when people have met in person, once it is back to communicating primarily through Skype or PM’s it somehow reverts to a depersonalized type of situation and the feeling that anything goes too often prevails. The prevailing thought is the men doing this often have little or no face to face contact with women IRL and another is that it is an issue related to confidence. Online, they may be a “rockstar”, but offline they may feel inadequate and intimidated.

 

We also have to report that two men weighed in claiming women online lead men on and are essentially “asking for it”. They feel that if a woman is flirtatious they are interested – never stopping to think they may be misreading joking as serious interest. Two men claimed women do this to them all the time although we’ve only found a smattering of women that would admit to it (3 of 28) and 2 of those 3 sent the photos to other women. Each claimed this was done by request with someone they were comfortable with. This doesn’t mean women never do the equivalent, but it lends us to believe the number that does is much lower than men.

 

What’s the final analysis?

 

Based on the amount of women that came forward to us and that had verifiable evidence of this happening on what is becoming a fairly regular basis, it appears to be on the rise. For whatever reason it is, the “crotch shots” are flying around pretty freely. Single men, married men; men that do and do not send photos with their faces in them. Some are so well known your jaw would drop to hear their names and others are relative unknowns by comparison.

 

We can’t tell you what the right thing to do is should this happen to you. We can tell you that any unrequested contact like this is wrong. We do encourage reporting incidents on the platform they occurred. We do encourage you keep a record of the contact should you decide to take legal action. As tempting as it may be, we do not suggest you engage in any form of public outing of the offender as it generally degenerates into a case of “he said, she said” and reputations and friendships not even involved in the incident sometimes wind up being damaged as well.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments

comments

Powered by Facebook Comments

Comments

  1. Mika Douglas says:

    Thanks for the post. Very well done. I have not had been a target of the naked anatomy. I have had advances that were quite tough to stop. Polite suggestion, and eventual blocking is prescribed. I am quite tolerant and I usually only react when my “safety” trigger goes off.

  2. Wow, I didn’t know it was so wide-spread. I naively thought that that US congressman (or whoever) appropriately named Wiener (or some such) was unique.

    In the case of Jill and Tedd, I have no doubt: block the perv, project be damned. He may have tender feelings… well, his loss.

    Personally, I got flirtatious private messages on FB, normally from disgustingly looking women (with my luck…) so I sort of understand the feeling of invasion it may cause in a sensitive person. Me, I just block the weirdo and forget, no feelings wasted on my part.

    • AmandaFox says:

      Austin, we weren’t aware how prevalent it was either until a couple weeks prior to Christmas when it seemed to explode and the topic came up during some girl talk. I posted a status update just as a reminder it isn’t a very good idea for guys to do this, it was shared around and within a day I had talks with a number of women lined up this was happening to not once, but time and time again. I’m a flirt and active on socmed so I always wrote it off as due to that, but once I saw the same names coming up in some cases and we really got to talking about this with a very broad diverse group, it wasn’t just flirts like me, it was all kinds of women including rather reserved grandmothers. I personally just block and move on, but I do know some that grit their teeth and try to push past it. Each to their own, but I’m not a fan of it. Thank you for sharing your insights.

  3. I’ve had this happen to me a few times. It’s unsurprisingly very, very, VERY prevalent on dating sites. Especially OKCupid for some reason (Oh and how frikkin’ dumb ass was that no picture day thing yesterday? Sheeeeeesh I am actually wondering if I should ever bother going back after that numbskull idea.). It’s actually so common on dating sites that I no longer even count when it happens on them.

    It’s also happened to me on Facebook, five times last year, and already twice this year. Now, I do get the feeling that part of the reason I catch so many is that I’m openly transgendered, and describe myself as a futagirl. So a lot of guys see me as a safe “bi” experience.

    “Honestly lads, I thought he was a chick, and if I didn’t keep going he’d kick the shit out of me!”

    But that still does not excuse it.

    It’s a horrible, and actually quite intimidating thing to receive in your mail. To give one example, I was in discussion with someone I (thought, I) knew about doubling up for a weekly 52 page webcomic project starting at the end of this year. Things seemed to be going well, we were on the same page about the story, drawing/inking style, as well as the format etc. Not a minor thing when creative people tend to always have differing ideas on how to tell the same story.

    Anyway, I went to bed having arranged to skype with him the next day, and go over some basic character concepts as well as trying to figure out hosting etc. Yay, plans are afoot! I wake up, check my mail and BOOM!…..Actually no, it wasn’t impressive enough for a “BOOM!” More like a “is that a mushroom?…no, no that’s his penis, and his nose is bigger.”

    Anyway I was left with a furiousness in my heart, and the overwhelming urge to punch him where he’d just photographed itching in my fists. In the end I just blocked him. I have evidence that the concept is mine, chat logs, and recordings of the Skype conversations (bet you didn’t know I could do that you fucking asshole?!” So I’m not worried about losing my work. But it did leave me actually quite shaken, and reversed a lot of progress I had made in trusting men over the past ten years.

    To me this is not actually funny, though I try to make it into a joke at their expense. To me it’s just another piece of evidence that while the “goods and chattels” laws of the past may have been consigned to the scrapheap, the attitudes that were part and parcel of their creation is still alive and well. What do I mean by that? The following points…

    If you’re female your sexuality belongs to me/n.

    If you’re in anyway different you’re a slut who will do anything with anyone. (common one for the gothgirls of the world, and a constant for this transgirl at the very least.)

    If you pay any attention to a (certain type of) man your sexual expression is obviously his.

    It just seems emblematic of an attitude amongst a certain type of man (and one or two women too) that if you flirt even the tiniest bit, or join with them in a project, or get involved in their lives in any way, that you belong to them. And that makes it perfectly fine to send whatever the hell they want to you in your mail. And *”sure, you’ll take it and enjoy it, cos you’re nothin’ but a slut and should be happy for the attention.”

    Well that’s my impression anyway.

    * was actually the response of the first guy to send me one when I confronted him.

    • AmandaFox says:

      For sake of brevity I’ll say I agree with you. If you’re different – you seem to get a regular dose. I know among many lesbian women I have spoken with over the years there seems to be a fairly high incidence of this because there are guys that somehow seem to think they have a magic penis or something which when gazed upon turns gay girls straight. Who knows? I know among the trans community it is high as well. It doesn’t matter who you are though, it’s just not right. Thanks for sharing your insights on this!

  4. Thanks for speaking out…..it is so important that we keep one another safe and protected, educated and informed. B R A V O

  5. Linda Hurley says:

    Report and block. Can’t afford to? I would suggest we can’t afford not to. Would we do business with someone who walked into a room IRL and flashed? Of course not. We are no less deserving of respect on line than IRL. And, ‘only’ doing it on line does not make these people any less deplorable than those flashers IRL. By not doing anything about this type of behaviour (whether it is a man or woman perpetrator) we are providing tacit approval. They count on our silence to continue getting away with it. The only way to stop this behaviour is for everyone to stand up and say enough! Report and block.

  6. geoffrey Tegjeu says:

    it not only happens to ladies and frankly most guys are too “macho’ to even consider mentioning it. There are predators all around and one would need to be aware of the ummindful creatures. The self centeredness of thinking they are God’s gift to humankind, so full of Ego. The practice of being civil to each other is gradually a losing art. Time to change the programming of humankind

Speak Your Mind

*