A model is telling the girlfriends of guys who send her naked pics
She says ‘I would want to know’
The unsolicited dick pic is a tired trope. Indeed, it is so tired that it is quite hard to conjure outrage. Instead, you feel a sort of detached, academic interest in the process: you wonder about the men who think it works; you wonder about the women on whom it does. You wonder if these men have friends, and if their friends know that they serially dispatch pictures of their genitals to strangers on the internet. But most of the time, you roll your eyes rather than wring your hands.
Periodically, though, there’s a new twist that reanimates the subject. Emily Sears, an Australian model who lives in LA, has a personal (which is political) crusade: contacting the girlfriends of men who send her unsolicited dick pics via Instagram.
She has 2.4 million followers, and claims that she receives at least one or two pictures a day. “It’s been happening for so long,” the model told BuzzFeed News. “I became fed up with these kinds of disturbing and disgusting messages and comments online.” She searches the men on Facebook and finds that in an astonishing number of cases, they are “in a relationship”.
One of them had been christened “the best boyfriend ever” by his unwitting girlfriend. “I know if the roles were reversed and it was my boyfriend sending that shit out, I would want to know,” says Sears. She hopes that her guerrilla campaign will deliver accountability and collapse the anonymity of “being behind a screen”. Sometimes, she gets thanks from girls; sometimes, they don’t respond.
Sears is another agent in the grassroots online sisterhood; a high octane version of Laura Bates’ #EverydaySexism (high octane as it’s about dicks). The online sisterhood has diversified.
But on a less grand, less cosmic level: she’s grassing up some guys she doesn’t know to some girls she doesn’t know. Obviously, these guys are unpleasant wankers (literally and figuratively), and their girlfriends are unwitting victims. Broadly speaking, that girl probably doesn’t want to go out with someone who’s sending an on spec dick pic to a girl he doesn’t know.
However, it is also a very weird situation – like some guy coming up to you in a pub and telling you he’s your half-brother from your Dad’s secret family (“I think you should sit down”). You wonder – as you contemplate the retroactive collapse of your entire world – if you might have been happier not knowing. People are fallible; people behave out of character; people act before they think. People are drunk. He probably didn’t expect it to go anywhere (the guys are strangers). Usually, Sears explains that the guys send a “panicked apology”.
Sears’ grand – and very public – judgement does not allow for the nuance of human error. It’s part of a culture of public shaming – touting virtual pitchforks and flamethrowers – that feels uncomfortably like the sort of vigilante justice that might one day get out of hand.
On the other hand, the guys are so clearly wrong, and more broadly ought to stop dealing in dick pics – it’s misogyny writ (not very) large; it’s a curious cultural movement – Kanye West is allegedly sending them. And fear is a powerful incentive. If Sears can get some guys to put it away by telling their poor girlfriends, then she’s probably adding value to a lot of relationships.
Of course, inevitably the story sends you into a spiral of introspection. Sears goes big: screenshotting conversations and hunting down girlfriends; you didn’t have the heart to tell your mate that you saw her boyfriend on Tinder (not a dick pic – just a profile). You screenshotted it and sent it to another mate with a pensive emoji. Hashtag friend of the year.
Perhaps Sears’ movement is just an interesting postscript to the usual, boring dick pic conversations – maybe it’s the new #EverydaySexism. And maybe you should tell your mate her boyfriend is hedging his bets.