Why do men send dick pics? Our primate cousins and us have a lot in common. A dic pic may be an honest signal of health and a sexual invitation to a female. The reason men like to look at penises may be rooted in out biological past.
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Historically, male exhibitionism has been considered a mental disorder. If that is the case then the internet suggests that we are a planet of mentally deranged men.
Hi! Vlad here and this Darwin on demand. The channel that uncovers the biological roots of human behavior.
It doesn’t take elaborate studies to notice that there is a seemingly strange phenomenon happening all over societies. Countless women looking for Mr Rights are being bombarded by with a rather unclassy form of exhibitionism: the notorious dick pic. What on earth are guys thinking and why are they doing it?
As per usual, our path to the answer takes us on a bit of a detour.
The fact of the matter is that men are more interested in penises than women are. And men are much more interested in large penises than women are. In an academic survey from 2006 of more than fifty thousand respondents between the ages of 18 and 50, only 15% of women said they were dissatisfied with their partner’s penis size while 45% of men wanted a larger penis.
Oh but it’s not just their own penis that men are concerned with.
Another study that used eye tracking recorded what men and women looked at as they viewed different images. They found that men consistently direct their gaze to the male crotch, while women rarely do so. These images were not erotic.
Romance novels, which are almost exclusively targeted at women do not include visual descriptions of a man’s penis, even if the storyline is filled with graphic sex scenes.
In porn on the other hand the penis is always under the spotlight. For men, the penis can never be too big. Only .2 percent of men wish they had a smaller penis compared to 9% of women who wish they had smaller breasts.
So why does the male organ receive so much attention from men? One possible answer may lie with our primate cousins. Among monkeys and apes, the penis is a prominent and versatile social tool. The erect primate penis is used as a sign of male on male aggression. It is also used to mark territory and of course it is used as a sexual invitation to females. However, if this invitation is witnessed by a competing male, the erect penis can provoke hostility and attacks. It may also be a visual cue that motivates men to copulate with a female shortly after she mated with a competing male. This would at least in part explain why men are so obsessed with other men’s penises.
Richard Dawking, the renowned biologist, suggested that an erection may be a honest signal of a man’s general health. In other words, male exhibitionism may be conveying the message: Check this out ladies! I’ve been eating my kale.
Going back to primates for a second, when male savanna baboons meet they often greed each other by didling, which the scientific term for touching each other’s weewees.
Similarly, among the Australian Walbiri and Aranda people, when grievences need to be settled, the men participate in a custom where each man presents his semi erect penis to all the others and presses and slides it into each man’s palm. To make the similarities even more obvious between us and our primate cousins, all you need to do is to have a look at a koteka, which is an ornamented penis cap worn by men in Papua New Guinea. This truly highlights the attentiveness to the penis that we share with our primate cousins.
Besides checking out other men’s penises, guys also like to flaunt their own. Chat roulette is a website that allows users with a webcam to randomly connect with other people from around the world. You pretty much see what the other person decides to place in from their camera. It could be a boy wearing a funny hat, it could be a cute kitty or it could be a…BOOM! Penis!
Although encountering a male exhibitionist in public can be an unsettling or even a frightening experience, clinical psychiatrists do not consider them dangerous. Exhibitionists rarely follow their display with any attempt of contacting their audience. Often the urge to exhibit oneself manifests as an inexplicable compulsion rather than a deliberate intention to scare or dominate a woman.
Here’s a quote from Lance Rentzel, the former wide receiver from the Dallas Cowboys referring to the incident that that got him arrested.
“The act was more magical than sexual, a ritual to restore that all-important sense of power that the defeats of life had temporarily destroyed. On this day, for some reason, I needed someone to play with me in a childish game I was making up. Look at me. Look at me. Look at what I’ve got. I sat in the car and they came over and I exposed myself . It took maybe 10 seconds, then I drove off, strangely relieved.”