The dick pic and the quest for intimacy

A much-needed video appeared yesterday, apparently via Alain de Botton and definitely via The School of LifeThe Dick Pic. You may think sending dick pics nobody asked for is not a very thoughtful hobby, but have you thought about it deeply enough? The School of Life is here to help.

It’s pretty painful to watch, what with the pretentious narrator and all, but it’s an essay as well as a video, so we’re in luck.

The Dick Picture is one of the least well-regarded of contemporary genres. To many, the idea of a man sending an acquaintance a picture of his penis sounds the height of idiotic self-regard and arrogance. Who, after all, would be interested – let alone turned on? It seems a fitting occasion to mock and laugh heartily.

Sigh. Have you spotted what the writer (de Botton?) left out? Have you wondered what happened to the all-important variable? It’s whether or not the recipient wants the dick pic. If the dick pic is invited, I don’t think it is idiotic self-regard and arrogance, it’s just lovers being lovers. But if it’s not invited? It’s all that and worse. But whatever imbecile wrote this thing seems to have entirely forgotten about that aspect. Which is sort of the whole problem, isn’t it…

Clearly, there are ways of sending images of one’s genitals to other people that may go seriously wrong. But there can also be quite important and benign aspects to this apparently crude and alarming phenomenon, dynamics that tells us about what lies at the heart of our sexuality and our search for intimacy.

Not if it’s uninvited there aren’t. If it is invited, there’s no need for this ridiculous essay, and if it’s not, this ridiculous essay is a pile of shit.

We get Dürer painting his in a self-portrait. Great; no problem. Then we get ludicrous commentary.

To make a dick pick isn’t typically about arrogance: it’s an exercise in vulnerability. Other people may laugh. That is what makes the act such a gamble and, when it goes right, a symbol of closeness. Like all men, Dürer knew perfectly well that many people would find his radical self-portrait acutely embarrassing. But, just like many of his modern day successors, Dürer was searching for a kind of friendship through an undefended act of revelation. He wasn’t making an assertion of potency; he was creating a noteworthy new avenue for rejection – in the name of honesty.

But he wasn’t presenting it to people uninvited. He didn’t go knocking on people’s doors and hold the portrait up when they opened. A single self-portrait isn’t the same as a dick pic tweeted to women who didn’t request it.

It is certainly possible to be too proud of one’s penis, and attempt to show it to others out of a desire to shock and humiliate. But for the overwhelming majority of men, this is not remotely what is at stake. The sending of a dick pic stems from a wish to reveal one’s deeper, more sincere self without any of the normal requirements for secrecy and shame. It is precisely because the penis is an area of such potential disgust and ridicule that its calculated revelation belongs to a trajectory of closeness, in which social inhibitions are finally and courageously lowered.

It’s as if women just didn’t exist at all, isn’t it. No need to think about whether or not they asked for these dick pics, no need to ask them how they feel about uninvited dick pics, no need to take them into account in any way.

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