Hypothesis: The Purpose Of The Cockshot Is To Test Boundaries
I told my niece one time, and I stole it from I don’t remember where, “if a guy offers to buy you a drink and you say no, and he pesters you until you say okay, what he wants for his money is to find out if you can be talked out of no.”
I don’t get pictures of strangers’ genitals in my inbox, but lots of women I know do. It’s common in some dating sites and apps, and the ubiquity of the cockshot on Fetlife spawns its own breeds and strains of jokes. And the joke is that they are famously NOT HOT. I’m not talking about people trading pictures when they know each other, or are in the process of getting to know each other. I’m talking about the unsolicited stranger cockshot. If it is so famously not going to arouse the recipient (I know zero women who have ever said they were aroused by an unsolicited stranger’s cock pic), then how in the world would it be a good strategy? Why do it?
Here’s my hypothesis: What this guy [Edited: versions of this keep popping up and then going 404. Try this.] was trying to do was not to arouse the recipient or get her to react to his attractiveness. It was to see how she would react to a boundary violation.
Suppose he was just trying to show her how hot he was. Well, then, he could have asked. If he really wanted to know if she wanted to see a picture of him full-frontal nude, he could have just said, “Hi, I like your profile and you’re really hot. I have nude pics available. Not to brag, but I’m a pretty athletic guy and I think I have a nice cock. Want to see?” And if she said yes, it’s pretty likely that it’s because she actually wanted to see him naked. In addition, this approach would have the salutary effects of showing an awareness of boundaries and allowing her some say in the way the interaction unfolded. If he starts with the idea that she might be taken with his physical offering and want to have sex with him, that’s sort of an obviously superior strategy.
So why didn’t he do that? Possibly because it would not have answered the question he wanted the answer to. I think the question he wanted an answer to was “if I’m wildly inappropriate, how will you respond?”
The unsolicited cockshot is coercive from the start. By the time she thinks, “I really didn’t want to see that,” she’s already seen it. She can then:
(1) just ignore him;
(2) call him on his inappropriateness;
(3) play along and humor him.
This woman went with #2, in spectacular fashion, which didn’t go well for him. But there’s social pressure, basically from birth, to caretake men’s feelings and not make a fuss or be aggressive. I think overtly assertive responses are rare and some sort of noncommittal response to these pics are pretty common.
Note what he does after she tells him it’s unwanted. If the purpose were to show off his physical assets in the hope that she’d be interested, one would expect his reply to her reaction to be some sort of apology. But that’s not how he reacts. Instead, he tries four times to talk her out of her stated boundaries. He asks if it’s too big. He tells her to “relax.” Then he calls her “prude.” These are sort of the classic tropes used to attack women for expressing boundaries or calling out sexism: Frigid, uptight, humorless, prudish.
Now, at this point, he can’t possibly believe she’s typing one-handed. He is conscious of the rejection. Instead of going away, he tried to bully her out of it, and see if he could still pressure her into playing along. In fact, that’s what he kept trying to do, until she followed his profile to his Facebook profile, then to his mother’s profile, and threatened to expose his conduct to his mother. She was being very clear that she wanted him to go away and have no further contact with her, and he kept messenging her until she had an effective threat in hand.
(There’s an aside here about his mother and how he treats women. I tend to think there’s a difference between shame and embarrassment; I can understand being embarrassed about your mother finding out details about your sex life. But it’s clear to me that this guy would be ashamed. In other words, he knows it’s wrong, but he does it because he’s okay with doing things that are wrong and invasive and abusive to women, as long as they’re not his mom or his sister.)
What’s the purpose of this kind of deliberate boundary-testing? To find out if she can be talked out of no. That’s how the Creepy Dom picks targets. That’s how many predators pick targets. In matters of sexual assault, and also intimate partner violence (which overlap a great deal), the boundary violations start relatively small — the inappropriate picture, the “courtesy” expressed as mandate.
They don’t stay small. They escalate, slowly but surely.