WITHOUT thinking, I tapped on WhatsApp to open up the video that had just pinged into my messages. It was from a guy I’d been chatting to for a few days after meeting him on the dating app Hinge.
He worked in finance and seemed nice enough, and I was definitely up for meeting in real life if he asked. But then the video started to play. It was a clip of him masturbating while pleasuring himself with a sex toy. As I quickly shut it down, I felt horrified and violated.
Just last year a YouGov survey found that 53% of millennial women had received an explicit picture, and, worse still, 78% of them hadn’t consented to receiving such an image.
The same survey also revealed that over a quarter of millennial men admitted to sending a picture of their penis to a woman, and 24% of them did so without asking permission.
“Some men are naive enough not to understand that these images, especially sent without consent, are actually revolting to women,” says behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings.
“They believe that by sending them, they will receive one back. While it’s OK if these images are sent consensually, it’s a different ball game when a woman is speaking to a man she doesn’t know on an app.
“In some cases, sending unsolicited d**k pics is a show of dominance and aggression. It’s as if they’re saying: ‘OK, you think you’re smart? Well take a look at this.’
“It’s done to shock and silence women, and is the modern equivalent of flashing – except now men are able to do it from behind the safety of a screen instead of on the bus.”