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When you think of sexting, you usually think of men sending unsolicited pictures. But what about the relationships that thrive on it — and the women who love it?
M adeleine Holden has three simple tips for taking a good dick pic. First, zoom out. Second, clear the background of clutter. Third, experiment with angles. Then, for extra credit, consider tone, narrative, aesthetics and the desires of the recipient. Yet even as it becomes more commonplace, the persistent framing of sexting is that straight men send images to women who did not ask for them, and straight women send images to men who ask for them. This is a myth, says Dr Michelle Drouin, a developmental psychologist and expert on technology and relationships. In fact, studies have shown them to record similarly diverse responses when girls who sext about their sexting behaviours.
In terms of motivation, they often cite the same thing: fun, flirtation, laying the groundwork for sexual activity. Holden had initially intended for Critique My Dick Pic to interrogate this. But as her inbox filled up with submissions, she came to realise that the reality was far more diverse than she could have ever imagined.
This is partly a result of biological difference, yes — but it is also learned. Coupled with the enormous variation within women, this means, again, that attempting to separate differences between male and female sexuality from the bigger picture is fraught, if not futile. If women are more reticent to initiate sexting, suggests Toronto-based sex writer and podcast host Kate Sloan, it may be out of internalised shame or fear of judgment, or because of their own experience of being objectified.
If men do initiate the exchange of naked images more readily, says Sloan, they have been enabled to do so by a culture that predominantly tailors its imagery to the male gaze. The dominance of that view can have lasting impact on what even straight women understand as attractive. Our tastes and desires are shaped by society, says Sloan, who is bisexual.
But for many women, sex remains inextricable from risk — of disease, pregnancy, violence — which inevitably affects their pursuit and enjoyment of it, regardless of the immediacy of the threat. Eva Bloom, a sex educator also in Toronto, says that though the taboo against sending naked images is slowly lifting, women are still being punished for it. Victims of revenge porn can sometimes suffer greater consequences than the person who illegally shared their pictures without consent.
Her recent study into sexting by young Canadian women found that those who did sext, even irregularly, were more likely to talk to their partners about safe sex, and what they liked and did not like in bed. Women who sexted frequently were more sexually satisfied, and more likely to report that their last sexual encounter was very pleasurable. Though she has not yet established causation, Bloom suggests when there is trust, sexting can be a means of experimentation, and even vetting potential sexual partners. Sloan says that on her podcast The Dildorks, she and co-host Bex Caputo often advise that people float a fantasy with a partner over text first.
Sloan herself first dipped a toe into many of her own kinks this way. Sexting: do men and women do it differently? Elle Hunt.
Thu 14 Nov The war on unwanted dick pics has begun. .
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