In preparation for the writing of this article, I did a very casual poll to see how many of the people I knew had, at some point in their lives, been sent a photo of ANY genitalia that they did not ask for. I made a point of asking friends from different ethnic / moral / religious / sexual / educational / geographical / comedic backgrounds and truly attempted to get varying answers from varying lifestyles. In total, 20 humans answered.
Can you guess how many of them have received one?
Do me a favor and take a moment to read the above definition, if you haven’t already. All finished? Lovely! Now, just for posterity’s sake, go ahead and read it one more time. Really let the words sink into your mind.
You might be thinking that the above mentioned word is a pretty clear-cut concept. If something is “unsolicited”, it is provided without any previous declaration or indication of desire to receive said object or statement. In simpler terms, you don’t want it and didn’t ask for it but someone gave it to you anyway.
There is a basic respect that every living being on this planet deserves. It is a simple thing, really – or at least it should be simple – but it is staggeringly difficult to come by in daily life. This right should be afforded by every animal, every child, every adult with unbiased allocation.
What is this right?
Consent. A being’s right to choice.
With that in mind, in this day and age it seems very difficult to make it to your 25th birthday without running into one disturbing phenomena: the unsolicited “junk pic”.
What exactly is an unsolicited “junk pic”? It is an unwanted picture (which can be sent online, by text, by snapchat or another sharing app, etc.) that showcases someones sexual organs. This picture is sent without the receiving individual asking for it or wanting it.
I’m sure there are now some people thinking, ‘Wow, this chick’s uptight – it’s perfectly harmless! They can just delete it from their phone and get on with their lives…” To which I say, no. It is not harmless. And here’s why:
When you send someone a picture of your body that they did not specifically ask for, you are stripping them of their consent. You are essentially saying, “I do not respect you as a living thing and feel that my desire to flash you is more important than your desire to be in control of what you see.”
What if that person is at work or spending time with their family members? They could unwittingly open that message and be put in a compromising situation. What if they’ve been molested or raped, and sexual pictures are a trigger to them? You could bring back memories of a trauma that has scarred them for life and that they are fighting every day to move past. What if that person simply doesn’t want it? That’s as legitimate a reason as any.
By sending unsolicited nudes, you’re making an assumption that since you want them to see you naked, they also want to see you naked and quite frankly – you’re being an asshole. Just. Don’t. Do it.
At this point, I feel like I should clear up a misconception that could be forming in your heads: I am not saying, “Don’t send nudes.” On the contrary! If you are consulting adults of sound mind with an understanding that sending photos of your body parts is okay (and the ability to keep those photos out of reach of children or other adults who don’t wish see to ya’ll neked), SEXT AWAY!
However, if that understanding is not previously established and there is no clear, verbal declaration of desire to receive photos of a naked or sexual nature?
Don’t even think about it.
The key here is the consent. If the individual who sent them does not want them to be seen by anyone but you, do not show them to other people. If there are other individuals (especially minors) that go through your phone or computer, keep your photos in a place they will not be found. (I do not believe there is any excuse for a child being exposed to sexuality prematurely simply because you couldn’t secure your sexts.)
As for my little poll, I asked 10 people who identify as women and 10 people who identify as men.
Out of 10 men, 0% of them could report receiving pictures of a sexual nature that they did not want. Four of them quite enthusiastically recalled the dozens of pictures they had wanted and received. Two of them went so far as to attempt to show me some of them (they did not succeed).
Out of the 10 women, 90% of them could report receiving multiple pictures of a sexual nature. One woman had never received a “junk pic”. Eight women reported receiving more than three. Four women reported these pictures being sent by people they knew and trusted. One woman reported the picture was sent from a blood relative when she was below the age of 18. Intentionally.
Obviously, my findings are less than scientific seeing that the pool of participants is so small, they were not under a polygraph when giving these answers and I have no way of proving the validity of them.
And besides that, the answers given aren’t my point.
My point is to think – think before you press send. Think about how that one picture may be received by the human being on the other side of that screen. Empathize. Contemplate. Show kindness. Show respect. The world will be better thanks to you.
And if you decide you want to show whoever they are that you respect their right to choice and have no desire to take that from them, instead? Send them a cute puppy meme!
That is, unless they’re afraid of doggos.
Mars, signing out. ◊