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‘Directly in Your Face’: A Qualitative Study on the Sending and Receiving of Unsolicited ‘Dick Pics’ Among Young Adults

Abstract

‘Dick pics’ are self-taken pictures of penises sent by men via digital devices such as smartphones. Although the unsolicited sending of dick pics has become an object of public and academic attention, few empirical studies have investigated this phenomenon. Based on data from seven same-sex focus group interviews with young adults this qualitative study explores personal experiences with receiving and sending unsolicited dick pics and collective understandings of this phenomenon. Results show that girls experience unsolicited dick pics as intrusive and see them as misguided attempts at flirting, while boys perceive the sending of dick pics as a way of showing off, complimenting, hooking-up with or getting nude pictures in return from girls. Analyses show how these explanations draw on gendered constructions of heterosexuality and how humorous framings of male nudity serve to both reduce the potential consequences of having dick pics shared and undermine the intimidating experience of receiving them. Results are discussed in relation to research on sexting and suggestions for future research are presented.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In Denmark, this is a 3-year upper secondary education called the ‘gymnasium’, which gives access to university- and other tertiary education.

  2. 2.

    https://bornetelefonen.dk/.

  3. 3.

    https://www.sexlinien.dk/.

  4. 4.

    Directly translated ‘The Children’s Telephone’ and ‘The Sex Line’, respectively.

  5. 5.

    Snapchat is a social media application that allows users to send images and video that is automatically erased 1–10 s after the receiver has opened them.

  6. 6.

    A type of selfie in which ‘subjects pose naked with a baseball cap (or other hat) strategically covering their breasts or genitals’ (Albury 2015, p. 1738).

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Correspondence to Morten Birk Hansen Mandau.

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The study was registered and approved by the Danish Data Protection Agency and informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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The study involved human participants and all procedures were performed in accordance with the Policy for Responsible Conduct of Research and Code of Practice at Aarhus University and the Principles on Responsible Scientific Conduct at Aarhus BSS. All procedures were also in accordance with the Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (2014) which is based on international declarations and principles for research integrity and responsible research practice including the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (2011).

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Mandau, M.B.H. ‘Directly in Your Face’: A Qualitative Study on the Sending and Receiving of Unsolicited ‘Dick Pics’ Among Young Adults. Sexuality & Culture 24, 72–93 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-019-09626-2

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Keywords

  • Dick pics
  • Sexting
  • Young adults
  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • Qualitative