The Vagenda

Dick Pic Etiquette

The news (and I use this term loosely) that an American lass had dobbed in a guy TO HIS MUM after he sent her an unsolicited dick pic has got me all in a spin. I mean, I have questions. Quite a lot of questions.
So this lady met Trevor – the guy with the dick- on an internet dating website and they were just having a chat about the weather when he decided to ramp things up a notch by sending her a picture of his erect penis. As you do. Or don’t. According to the recipient, Trevor’s tacky sex pic ‘perpetuates rape culture’ and therefore he needs to have a chat with his mom. ‘I am sick of being treated like this’ she said, before reportedly locating his mother on Facebook and sending her the picture. 
Trevor, who by this point is clearly shitting himself, responds by telling her to ‘relax’. After all, it’s just a penis, right? 
Then Salon, who reported the whole sorry ordeal, jumped in by adding ‘I doubt that this is a case of ignorance. Most unsolicited crotch shots are an act of exhibitionism and aggression — something akin to flashing, for cowards.’ 
You can possibly see why I have questions. Time for the questions.
Does an unsolicited picture of a cock perpetuate rape culture? 
To be honest with you, I really don’t know. It isn’t cool, let’s put it that way. But equally I do feel a teensy bit of sympathy with Trevor and don’t necessarily see it as an act of ‘aggression’. A picture of a penis is, at the base of it, a picture of a penis. It is not inherently ‘rapey’. It’s the context that makes it that. 
Firstly, Trevor included a picture of his face, which is always pleasant for the lady involved. Receiving a picture of an angry, disembodied cock is always a bit of a downer. But does it perpetuate rape culture? Or is it more like an attempt on the part of the male to tempt the female into sexual intercourse, kind of like a female baboon shaking her red arse? Has Trevor seen so much porn that he thinks women turn into cock hungry cumsluts the minute they see a photo of an erect penis? Could this actually be ignorance and not aggression? Furthermore, what is the context of this? Has Trevor met women through the site before who have LOVED the dick pics and so, in his moronic ignorance, assumed that all women do? Is Trevor just a bit of a twat? Or should we view Trevor as a product of a culture which trivialises and tacitly accepts rape? 
Why the hell did she send it to his ‘mom’?
I have to admit, this is the part that annoyed me. For the following reasons:
1.) Said lady is upset because she has been upset by a picture of a penis, which she views as harassing behaviour. Is it then right to continue that form of behaviour by sending the picture to another woman, who actually, being the woman who brought the culprit himself into the world via her vagina, might be even more disturbed by it than the initial recipient??
2.) Doesn’t sending it to his mum seem kind of sexist? It certainly betrays a low opinion of men. Just as Trevor may be acting from past experience (assuming for a sec that perhaps the dick pic move has worked before), the lady in question is also acting from past experience (‘I’m sick of being treated like this’) and while I 100% understand the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ thing, it does seem like she’s taking out her bad experiences with men on this one guy (and his family, for fuck’s sake). Granted, Trevor did call her a prude for getting upset about his penis, which does imply that he isn’t the most sensitive and empathic of dates, but equally, running to his mum sort of infantilises him to the point where it makes me question whether she even thinks men are worthy of hearing her opinions. In other words, it kinda says, ‘despite the fact that you’re supposed to be an adult man, you’re too stupid to discuss this with properly and your mum is still the boss of you.’
3.) The feminists of yore taught us the importance of being assertive, but this doesn’t seem assertive, it seems pretty passive-aggressive and childish. It got me thinking as to whether, were I in the same situation, doing such a thing would make me feel powerful. I don’t think it would. I think it would make me feel vindicated, like, for a second, and then I would feel bad that I sent a picture of a cock to someone’s mother. 
Why did Trevor send the picture of the cock in the first place?
I’ve touched on this already, but I should probably hammer this home. Some women don’t mind being sent pictures of cocks. Some women even like it (hell knows why, penises are pretty gross-looking). I suspect that, prior to this encounter, Trevor had only encountered these kinds of women, and, not being the smartest crayon in the box, failed to be polite and ask first (saying that, his preamble ‘is it pouring in Long Island yet?’ may be code for ‘would you like to see a picture of my cock’. Both parties in this equation seem to be victims of experience. 
Furthermore, the minefields that are technology, sexting and social media make it very difficult to determine what the current etiquette is, but here are some general rules for future reference:
- Don’t send anyone a picture of your dick unless they have explicitly asked for one
- If you’re upset that the picture of cock belies harassment, don’t send it to another woman. By all means laugh about it with your friends, but as per the first rule, give them a heads up first, otherwise you’re technically passing on the harassment. 
- Try and view each person you encounter on their own terms, and not as a ‘gender’ or a ‘group’. Sure, that group of people may have treated you badly in the past, but if you’re a feminist and therefore want women to be treated as INDIVIDUALS, don’t lump men together in the same category. Trevor sounds like a total numpty, but not all men send unsolicited pictures of their penises to women they met on the internet, I promise. 
- If I ever have a baby, please, Lord, make it a girl so that I never have to look at a picture of my son’s penis that he has sent to a woman off the internet. Because I will not have that shit. I will not have it.
Have you ever been sent an unsolicited picture of a cock? What did you do? Let us know in the comments. 

58 thoughts on “Dick Pic Etiquette

  1. I use Blendr quite a lot and must get 100s of cock shots each time I log in. My profile explicitly states that I will block anyone who sends me pictures of their cocks (not because I am a prude, as Trevor might suggest, but because I think penises are vile to look at, and because I think the sending of them is politically problematic, and even though I am hungry for sexy hook-ups, I do not want to have sex with anyone who has bad politics). Yet men STILL send me their pictures of their cocks. They all make me want to vom, but I save the especially weird looking ones for my friends and share them with them on whatsapp, so we can all enjoy the horror. Am I doing the same thing as this woman did by sharing the image with my female friends? I don’t think so, precisely because the men who send cock shots (usually faceless unlike Trevor’s) do not care about the audience of their shot, or how their image is received. They couldn’t care less which shaggable (similar aged, maybe, unrelated, almost certainly) birds saw their dicks as long as someone did.I am therefore convinced that my eyes are interchangeable with the eyes of my friends for these blendr dudes. The sheer propensity of cock shots that I get suggests to me that men LIKE to send pictures of their penises – maybe they like the expression of power, maybe they consider their penis to be amazing, huge, extraordinary and really value it aesthetically and it does not occur to them that anyone would not share their auto-appreciation.

    Is this a perpetuation of rape culture? I had not thought about it like that, but I do think that it has echoes of flashing as the original article suggested, I do think it has the potential to be an expression of power over women. Do I feel victimised or badly treated by the cock shots? fuck no. Why accept submission to that expression of potential power? Would I dob a dude into his mum for showing pictures of his cock? Absolutely never, for the reasons outlined in your article. It is disrespectful to myself and my integrity and to that of the mum. Inded, would I want someone to send naked pictures of me to my mum? not much (though I could ride it out), but then I don’t send naked photos of me which are unsolicited and find the idea of doing so weird.

    Which brings me back to be beginning…men who do this cannot think that all women love to receive cock shots (though some may), the problem is that they send them anyway, which means that they don’t care that many women may hate them. And THIS is the reason why the unsolicited sending of a cock is a problem, because of what it represents about the casualisation of rape culture in (at least) the UK/USA.

  2. Reading parts of their exchange in the original article does vindicate her actions a little more- “he responded with, “You don’t like?” and “Too big for ya?”” Clearly there is a massive dick in this photo, and it’s holding the camera. For her part, she describes his actions as sexual harassment, which they clearly are.

  3. Not sure I totally agree with what you’ve said about going to his mum. Perhaps it does infantilise him somewhat, but I think that really it was his infantile behaviour that’s more to blame on that front. He clearly wasn’t willing to engage with her on any kind of reasonable level and it’s not unusual to try to get through to blokes who treat women with little/no respect by reminding them that they have mothers/daughters/sisters etc. who they presumably care about. The point is that there are women who they (hopefully) respect and acknowledge as fully rounded people (not just objects) and by saying “what would your mother think of this?” is a way of saying that other women might feel horrified/ashamed by this in the same way that his mother would. This woman acted on that implication!

    I dunno, I guess I can sympathise with her wanting to react like this.

  4. God, I’m with the girl all the way. If this had happened, say at a party – you meet some unknown lad, start chatting & he proceeds to get his erect penis out, wouldn’t you see him more as a potential rapist than one who couldn’t follow sexual etiquette? Just because it happened over the internet didn’t make it less ‘real’. And why not tell his mum. I see that as an extension of the argument women should be putting before men: how would you like someone treating your girlfriend/sister/daughter/mother this way? And yeah, it is sexist but unfortunately we live in a sexist society. Chances are his mum WOULD give him a good talking to whereas I can’t see his dad doing so in equal probability. Yes, it does treat him like a child but when my nephew got caught sending suggestive texts to a girl when he was 12, it was his mother explaining that girls did not deserve such treatment that sorted his attitude out. Sure this guy is a bit older than that but he’s behaving as if he is emotionally retarded.

  5. Reading the original Salon article, it’s not the pic itself, but the fact that he called her a prude for telling him she didn’t want to see his penis that means he is definitely a sexist idiot. I would be tempted to do something like send the picture to his mum – I would want him to have actual real-life repercussions for behaving horribly on the internet to try and deter him from doing it again. However I would feel sorry for his mum so maybe wouldn’t do it. Hmmmmm.

  6. This article has some incredibly harmful attitudes. I seriously think it ought to be edited/removed (Unless I’m missing some very subtle satire, here):

    >>A picture of a penis is, at the base of it, a picture of a penis. It is not inherently ‘rapey’. It’s the context that makes it that.

    Yes. And the context here couldn’t be more clear. He made no attempt to check for consent. The only way this could be more nonconsensual is if she had preemptively said “Hi Trevor. Just in case you thought it would be ok to send me a dick-pic, I’d like to inform you that I’m not interested.” Are we really suggesting women should have to do that?

    >>Firstly, Trevor included a picture of his face, which is always pleasant for the lady involved.

    How sweet of him. I’m sure that softened the blow… Next time I mug someone I’ll make sure not to wear my balaclava.

    >>Could this actually be ignorance and not aggression?… Has Trevor met women through the site before who have LOVED the dick pics and so, in his moronic ignorance, assumed that all women do?

    So what if he has? How does that in any way excuse his actions? What if Trevor has never had someone reject his sexual advances? Does that entitle him to assume he always has consent? If not, then why is it any different here?

    Also ignorance and aggression are by no means mutually exclusive. In fact they surely go hand in hand, when it comes to rape culture.

    >>Is it then right to continue that form of behaviour by sending the picture to another woman, who actually, being the woman who brought the culprit himself into the world via her vagina, might be even more disturbed by it than the initial recipient??

    Why have you assumed this? There’s no reason to believe that she didn’t check with the mother first, and what’s more, the salon article explicitly states that there’s “no word as to whether she sent along the actual photo or just screen cap evidence of his textual repartee”

    Also it seems pretty harsh to question the behaviour of a woman who has just been the victim of sexual harassment – especially in light of how permissive you’ve been of her harasser! I mean obviously there are still limits of acceptability, but she hardly went on an axe rampage. This kind of scrutiny just smacks of victim blaming.

    >>Just as Trevor may be acting from past experience (assuming for a sec that perhaps the dick pic move has worked before) the lady in question is also acting from past experience (‘I’m sick of being treated like this’)

    Wait, so when Trevor is acting from past experience, that’s a mitigating factor, but when she’s acting from past experience, she’s to be blamed for it?

    Also we don’t >know< Trevor had past experiences, whereas it’s explicit that the woman does. Why are we making favourable assumptions for Trevor, but not for her?

  7. (continued, because more writing = more BEING RIGHT)

    >>it does seem like she’s taking out her bad experiences with men on this one guy (and his family, for fuck’s sake)

    “Taking it out” implies that he’s done nothing wrong. He… um… has? As for his family, why should they be shielded from this? He did this. He sent the picture. Why are we blaming the woman for making that known?! What was the alternative? Keep it to herself/within a circle of people who have no power to make a difference?

    This is exactly the same argument that holds that women shouldn’t report their rapists because, oh, think of their parents, and think of their futures! The poor dears. This is not only disappointing, it’s out and out apologism for harassment.

    >>running to his mum sort of infantilises him to the point where it makes me question whether she even thinks men are worthy of hearing her opinions

    Never mind the fact that she clearly DID discuss it with him first. The salon article reports that she said “I didn’t need to see that. I don’t need to be disrespected by someone I don’t know.”

    Why has that been completely ignored? Why are you repeatedly blaming her for minor transgressions which she didn’t necessarily commit, where Trevor is being excused for harassment?

    >>seems pretty passive-aggressive and childish

    Why is it any “worse” than when the Vagenda publishes and ridicules correspondence from less-than-feminist readers (bearing in mind that goes out to a far broader audience than this woman probably expected her blog to)?

    I read somewhere on here that pointing and laughing are pretty good ways of correcting bad behaviours. Isn’t this exactly that?

    >>(saying that, his preamble ‘is it pouring in Long Island yet?’ may be code for ‘would you like to see a picture of my cock’. Both parties in this equation seem to be victims of experience.

    It’s like she was deliberately misreading his signals, or something! I honestly don’t see how he could have been any more explicit!

    >>Furthermore, the minefields that are technology, sexting and social media make it very difficult to determine what the current etiquette is, but here are some general rules for future reference:

    Yup. It’s so hard to ask for consent via a messaging service. If only they gave you some way to communicate via words.

    It’s worth pointing out that there’s no reason to assume she broke any of these rules. I mean she may have done, but there’s no evidence either way. Trevor on the other hand has quite explicitly broken rule 1, which is surely… the most important one. Strange how the focus of this article is, nonetheless, entirely on the woman, and on excusing Trevor’s actions.

    I really don’t know what else to say. I just hope this gets taken down before it makes anyone feel less able to go public about harassment, for fear of being criticised, scrutinised, and seeing their harassers excused and sympathised with.

  8. I have so many problems with this article I don’t even know where to start! Most of the issues I have have already been addressed by Benedict (above)but I think the worst part of this article is that the author just ignores all the comments Trevor sent her AFTER the picture, which are even more offensive than the picture itself and in my opinion DO perpetuate rape culture.
    Please just remove or edit this article, its offensive and not at all what I have come to expect on this website.

  9. P.S What’s wrong with a lovely penis? I happen to think saying they’re gross is as nasty as saying a vagina is gross, which would make readers of this blog froth at the mouth, quite rightly. As you point out, don’t lump everyone together just because of their gender….

  10. Do you not think the mother/sister/daughter thing is problematic though? I’ve always found it a bit patronising the idea that men are only able to conceive respect for women in the context of those they are related to. I’m not sure it’s the way forward…

  11. As I said above, don’t you think the mother/sister/daughter thing is a bit problematic? Am not saying what happened to her was right in a million years but not sure the mum thing is an effective way of calling out bad behaviour either…

    Also please don’t use retarded casually like that in comments on this blog. My little bro has special needs so it upsets me quite a lot ( I take your point, however)

  12. I felt so conflicted and confused reading this and I am so relieved to see that the comments support how I felt about it.

    Completely agree with every word Benedict said. Nicely said.

  13. Hi Benedict

    We don’t delete articles because certain readers don’t like them – then there would be no debate and we LOVE debate. Also, the writer is clear that sending an unsolicited dick pic counts as harassment- she uses the word several times. But just because the recipient was sent an unsolicited dick pic doesn’t make her reaction to it beyond reproach – she went public about this, and so a certain amount of analysis is to be expected. It is in NO WAY THE SAME AS RAPE. Nowhere in that analysis does it say that Trevor’s behaviour is OK. Neither does it say ANYWHERE that Trevor is cool to not ask for consent. It poses a lot of questions, and tries to find reasons for his behaviour, but that doesn’t mean that it excuses it. I don’t have time to go through all that you’ve written but I should point out that the Vagenda is a humorous website and that in places you seem to have missed the joke (sorry, know this sounds patronising so apologies in advance for this) especially here:

    ‘Firstly, Trevor included a picture of his face, which is always pleasant for the lady involved.’ —> this is a joke

    and here: ‘Is it then right to continue that form of behaviour by sending the picture to another woman, who actually, being the woman who brought the culprit himself into the world via her vagina, might be even more disturbed by it than the initial recipient??’ —–> this is a joke

    (saying that, his preamble ‘is it pouring in Long Island yet?’ may be code for ‘would you like to see a picture of my cock’. Both parties in this equation seem to be victims of experience —> this is a joke

    I’m sorry but I don’t think encouraging meaningful debate of the issue, as the author does (most of the ‘points’ you criticise are actually questions to which an answer is not given) is ever a bad thing, and I have to admit that I get pretty sick of being told I have to toe some kind of feminist party line at all times, and that we should delete/not publish anything that goes against this. I mean, look at the comments! Most of them are great. I think that our ace readers are able to make their own minds up about whether or not an article is damaging. Also, the dick pic thing is clearly a bit of a problem (as an above commenter has pointed out) so it’s good that we’re chatting about it. As per the article I pretty much support the writer in saying that sending it to his mum was a bum move, and I know a lot of people on Twitter did too.

    So yeah, debate= good, censorship = bad.

  14. Hi PrincessCharming

    Please see above for our take on this, but do know that we don’t remove articles simply because a certain number of commenters disagree with them. Otherwise we would have to delete literally everything we write.

    Also please don’t expect too much from us: we are a lighthearted humour website which sometimes you will agree with and sometimes you won’t. We are not Spare Rib.

  15. I’m a bit torn but I generally agree with the article writer (plus I nearly fell off my chair laughing at the jokes – not good given I’ve been reading this in a strict library!).

    He sounds like an idiot, and it’s definitely harassment but, perhaps saying ‘this is sexual harassment, not cool, don’t contact me again’ or even reporting it to the police seems better than going his Mum – it’s incredibly infantalizing and also it seems to pass the responsibility onto his mother to explain why it’s wrong or to punish him. Why should it be his Mum’s responsibility – he’s an adult. If we’re going to say this is sexual harassment then it should be taken seriously, and going to his Mum just doesn’t really seem appropriate. Also, who knows, maybe his Mum would just brush it off or ignore her or get mad at her instead (sadly I could see this happening even if it’s not the appropriate response given what he did was wrong).

    Also, his response may have been offensive and his actions may have been wrong, but I’m not convinced that it’s perpetuating rape culture. Sexism, misogyny even, but I don’t think this is the same as rape.

    Also, am I being really, really dense and naive but I don’t see how ‘is it raining in long island’ accounts to asking if he could get his penis out?

  16. I also tend to agree with Benedict, although I wouldn’t ask for it to be taken down since this is a country of free speech, etc. Nonetheless, I’m amazed that the Vagenda appears to be perpetrating victim-blaming, the very act they are constantly railing against. This article seems genuinely out of place.

  17. It’s perpetuating rape cultural by shielding the male (not man,I have respect for most men). He never asked permission. A penis in this case is a sexual thing. It could be a trigger. He did not ask whether she wanted to see his sexual thing/penis. She did not ask to see it. It was a non-consensual sexual act. It is part of the rape culture. Many men still don’t “get it,” so it’s up to women, as usual, to stop that kind of behavior, if they can. Also, Trevor’s sending the picture was a juvenile act and his mommy should definitely have been notified. It’s not her fault, probably, and Mom could notify his other parent, if she thinks it would help straighten out this kid’s head. No excuses. No explanations. Please. Excuses and explanations only perpetuate this kind of behavior and, I know from sad experience, escalate this kind of behavior to the point of rape. (Yes, I’m smart enough to know it doesn’t always escalate, but that doesn’t mean it never happens.)I didn’t like the article’s tone of victim blaming. So she retaliated in a juvenile manner. Why is it okay for Trevor to act that way, but not the victim of his aggressive sexual act and comments?

  18. After reading through the debate on the comments here, I have to say I feel that the article was humorous and did not in any shape or form, perpetrate victim-blaming. The bloke is clearly a pillock, but saying that perhaps the lady in question was wrong to involve the blokes poor mother is not blaming the victim, it is saying that despite her being a victim she still has to think about the consequences of her reaction. In this case, the innocent mother. The bloke is an adult, his mother is in no way responsible for him and involving her and subjecting her to naked pictures of her son may get back at him but it also has the capacity to hurt her.

    So thank you, and nicely put vagenda x

  19. Saying it would be equally disturbing for the mum implies that the victim would have sent the image on in the same manner that she received it, ie with no warning or accompanying explanation. It seems very unlikely that this is what anyone in this situation would do. If I was in this situation, and thought to do this (which is definitely possible) I’d send a preliminary email explaining the situation, and at least attach the image as a separate file with a warning to the mother regarding what was in it, and not to open it if she doesn’t want to.
    I also agree with Benedict.
    Although this is a valid (while controversial) article that provokes debate, so I suppose under the rules of free speech it shouldn’t be taken down, it just doesn’t feel like it belongs here.

  20. Well,then, she shoulddn’t have done that because it wasn’t Nice, right? Women should always be Nice, never angry and bad tempered, or impulsive, no matter how hurt they are. Be nice, play nice, not to inconvenience their attackers. Mother and emailer can sort out their own feelings and responses, up to and including apologies from either party.

  21. I’m sorry you got that impression from my comment, I’m wasn’t trying to suggest she ought to have been nice about it, or that she didn’t have the right to act as she did, because obviously she does. I’m saying that there are consequences to every action. He did a stupid thing, she reacted. I personally dislike the idea of involving someones mother in this kind of situation, not because I think women do not have the right to be angry and impulsive but because I can’t help but feel it needlessly hurts someone else.

    If my brother did anything stupid like this I would hate for someone to involve my mother as I know how much it would upset her and stress her out, and despite being his mother she would be able to do absolutely nothing about it.

  22. She could talk to him. He is the only one who could do something about it. She could tell him that his act of “mild” sexual aggression hurt two people.

    The emailer said she was sick of being treated like this. She told him how she felt. He belittled her feelings. “Don’t do that it’s my mum” Well, don’t do that, the emailer is a human being.

    The emailer and the guy’s mother are adults. They should be able to have a dialogue about this, with amicable resolution, including any apologies deemed necessary.

    In the imaginary (I hope) case of your brother, why should your mother’s feelings be more important than the woman who is the victim?

  23. I also have family with special needs and emotionally retarded means just that – that he hasn’t developed emotionally. I am not American so would not use that word in the way you suggest. And no, I don’t think its problematic to remind him of the female members of his family. For a man who seems detached from how his actions affect women, then you have to simplify it and bring it home. Somehow, I think abstract notions may be a bit over his head.

  24. It absolutely isn’t, but sometimes *some* men need reminding that the women they want to fuck (or show unsolicited pictures of their teeny weenies to) are someone else’s mother or sister.

    I think a lot of blame can be laid at the doors of porn for men viewing non-related women like this.

    Most men? Lovely, normal human beings. Some men? Flashers who actually need reminding that women are humans. Like the racists who say “Oh well, my neighbour’s ok, but on the whole….”

  25. I used to be on plenty of fish and the cock shots were plentiful.

    My response was simple. I would get a photo and a short sentence which usually consisted of “fancy a fuck?” I would respond with “I’ll pass on that golden opportunity…”

    Sometimes they replied, sometimes they didn’t. Over all, I didn’t really care. After a few kraken and cokes with my friends, we’d compare the cock shots we received that week and have a really good giggle.

  26. Good for you. Other women might not enjoy that. There are women who could be triggered by that. If digital flashers like Trevor were “exposed”(wishful thinking, don’t know how), the women who don’t collect and share cock shots would have been spared the harassment. On the other hand, what would you have talked about after a few drinks?

  27. The intention that a particular statement should be humorous doesn’t mean that is automatically not offensive or not problematic. If it that were the case then people would not get so angry about sexist jokes or rape jokes. Benedict’s complaints are not lessened by the intention of humour by the article’s author. Disagreeing with you is not the same as missing the joke. By saying that Benedict has failed to see the humour you seem to be attempting to undercut their contribution to the debate in way that I find really troubling.

  28. Personally if anyone besides my bf send me a cock shot, I’d immediately feel threatened and harassed.

    It perpetuates rape culture in the same way that many men thinking that all women just need a good “seeing to” perpetuates it. Or thinking that feminists just need to “get some” perpetuates it.

    It perpetuates rape culture because it assumes that all women should always enjoy and appreciate a cock – whether it’s asked for or not.

  29. Completely agree with the points made by Benedict and others, and especially with Nicole von von.
    I would feel very threatened being sent an unsolicited cock shot, it’s a very aggressive thing to do. And yes, it is akin to flashing! Would you keep talking to a guy who suddenly showed you his naked erect penis in the middle of a conversation or a date?

    As has been pointed out before, some men seem to need reminding that women can be someone’s mum/sister in order to get some perspective. So I think she maybe reacted more strongly than I would have, but I applaud her reaction nevertheless.

  30. What Ludmilla said.

    Also, there is nothing to say that his mother isn’t a douche herself. She could very well be the type who thinks that her wittle boy can do no wrong, and shrug it off, or call the woman a slut for no reason. Equally, she could be completely on the side of the victim, and think her son was bang out of order.

  31. Yes. YES. Nicole von von, you’re completely spot on.

    With regards to all the people above saying “well I’ve received cock shots before and I just think they’re funny”, that’s marvellous, well done, but that’s just you, and you don’t have the right to imply that other people are lesser because it’s not so easily laughed off for them.

    I was once flashed on a bus and I wasn’t going to do anything about it because my reaction was “oh for god’s sake” rather than being intimidated or upset. Then I realised – hang on, other women may are unlikely to react in the same way, and this is an act of aggression and intimidation, designed to shock and upset me. Just because I happen to be relatively hardened to this sort of thing, does that mean that I should let it go, or should I stand up for myself and womankind? So I did just that, and reported it to the police. Turns out that flashing is officially a sexual offence (I didn’t know that beforehand) and I was absolutely right to do so. I can’t help but wonder how cock shots are classified in the legal sense?

  32. The writer of the article has responded as ‘The Vagenda Team’, as if you are speaking for all Vagenda writers. You also speak of yourself as ‘I’. It’s better to log on separately and identify yourself as the author rather than write as if you are speaking with the official voice of the whole of Vagenda, which I suspect you are not. The article puts just one person’s opinion on the cock debacle.

  33. I understand your points but I suppose the issue I was trying to address was not whos feelings are more important. Just that involving someones mother not only seems to suggest that she is responsible for him, which, as he is an adult she certainly is not, but it also has the potential to hurt another person and continue a fairly vicious circle of hurt and blame.

    Of course the victims feeling are important! I really am not suggesting otherwise, I’m saying that involving someones mother has the potential to hurt someone completely blameless. The mother is unlikely to deserve it any more than the victim does in the first place. I don’t mean the mothers feelings matter more, just that they are equal to the victims.

    In reply to Ludmilla, thankfully my own brother has not done this, but he did go through a period of time where he did some shitty stuff. Where I’m coming from is that my mother was unable to do anything about it, she knew about it and felt horrendous about the way he had acted. She tried to speak to him and to do something about it but was unable to get through to him. She felt it was her fault, and that he was her responsibility and unsurprisingly was very down and stressed out about it all. But he was an adult, his actions were his actions and his responsibility, not hers.

    So I’m sorry if it has sounded like I’m not in support of the victim. I honestly am. I’m just in support of mothers too and this article tugged at my emotions for that reason.

  34. Completely agree with Benedict.

    It’s about rape culture because it’s about consent.

    The suggestion in the article that a victim of sexual harassment should just ‘laugh about it with their friends’ is disturbingly close to the “geez, haven’t you got a sense of humour” that gets trotted out when women object to sexist jokes or pranks. Anger is a perfectly acceptable response to sexual harassment.

  35. I can’t say I find penises attractive at all. But I also don’t find vaginas attractive either. I guess, in general, I am just not big on genitalia. I certainly wouldn’t be aroused if a picture of either were sent to me. I suppose gross is the wrong word though seeing as it implies “this actively disgusts me”.

  36. I agree with everything Benedict said. Thank you, Benedict, for saving me the trouble of trying to frame and write all that myself. I think giving Trevor a good sharp lesson by getting in touch with his mum was an ace move, and I don’t think anyone needs to be overly concerned with the hurty wurty feelings of someone who is sexually harrassing them. Harrassment is bullying. Bullies deserve to be called out.

  37. Agreed, the comment about penises being gross was obnoxious and offensive to penis-owners everywhere. I very much like to look at penises. I’m also very particular about CHOOSING which ones I want to see, I’m just funny like that I guess. *eyeroll*

  38. LauraKath, I really like your point about how victims are still responsible for their own actions. Many assholes justify their own assholery to themselves quite easily because of their own feeling of being victimised, as thought that makes it okay to lash out and hurt others in turn, and that’s a poor move to say the least.

    On the issue as whole though, I agree more with Ludmilla. I don’t think Trevor’s mother has a sacred right to be free from information about the awful horrible things her son is doing. I don’t think *anyone* has the right to be free from information about the distateful actions of *anyone* that they care about. The idea of wanting to just look away from someone’s terrible behaviour because you don’t want to deal with the fact that you like or love this person who does awful things is, seriously, a massive part of HOW EVIL HAPPENS. It’s a variant of bystander phenomenon, don’t you think?

    If Trevor’s mum decides she wants to forgive and forget her son’s behaviour then that’s her informed choice and she gets to make it. She also gets to decide that she doesn’t want him in her life, or in her house, or whatever – extreme, especially for a mother, but she DOES have every right to choose if she wants to put any boundaries in place between them, based on the information she’s getting about his character and actions. But she doesn’t get to live in a bubble where nobody ever tells her what an asshole he is. Nobody has that right. Not even a mother.

    People who make asshole moves like sending dick pics on the internet deserve for their nearest and dearest to know what they’re up to, and their nearest a dearest get to make their own choices based on that information. But nobody has the right to NOT hear stuff about the people they care about, just because it would have made their lives easier to remain ignorant of presence of seriously bad mojo.

  39. Oh and – Trevor’s mum also has the right to ratchet up her Facebook privacy settings so that the women her son chooses to harass can’t get in touch with her and make it ‘her problem’. That is another right that she is totally at liberty to exercise.

  40. I disagree that the “someone’s relative” thing is problematic or sexist. I think it serves to remind the reader of the rounded humanity of the subject, and it works just as well for men. Our compassion is diminished when we are able to “other” victims/survivors, but increased when we are forced to identify with them. It’s an ugly fact of human nature that we really do tend to distance ourselves from the victims of scary crimes, we immediately think of “reasons why that couldn’t happen to me.” So people think, “Well, that murder victim was a prostitute, but I’m not a prostitute, and nor is anyone I know, so that crime could never touch me.” If forced to confront the fact that that murdered woman was someone’s little girl, someone’s best mate, someone’s sister, it drives identification, and therefore compassion.

    On a less shocking note, I once drove through some roadworks on the motorway, with one of those temporary speed limits of 30mph that everyone ignores. There was a large sign up saying “Loved ones at work.” I thought that was great – again, it made my conception of the workers much deeper than the two dimensional “bloke in high-vis vest doing dangerous job” and much more “each one of those people is likely to be someone’s Dad, someone’s boyfriend, someone’s son.”

    As a side note (because this comment isn’t long enough yet) if you think you don’t know any sex workers, you might be wrong. I know of two people working as escorts – one is open about what she does, but not to her family, and one told only his two closest friends.

  41. Thanks, Benedict, for eloquently expressing a lot of what I wanted to say myself. Sorry, Vagenda, I love you guys, but your “it was just a joke” thing isn’t working for me here(just like it didn’t in “Avoiding Anal”). The joke is just not obvious enough. If an ignorant, socially inept, horny young man reads this, what is he going to take from it? That sending an unsolicited dick pic is naughty, but not that naughty, not harrassment naughty, and he should include his face in the photo. If the recipient shows the pic to his Mum, that makes her a total bitch, and the one in the wrong. In my experience, entitled young men REALLY don’t need any encouragement in that department.

    Having said all that, I agree with the decision/policy to leave the article up, I think this is an important conversation to have.

    I neither agree nor disagree with Benedict’s assertion that sending the picture to his Mum was perfectly ok. I can’t decide. I agree with the Vagenda Team’s earlier comment, “poor Mum!” Yes, how does she feel about it? Is her embarrassment worth the chance that she’ll give her son a talking-to? Might she respond, “There, there, son, you did nothing wrong?”

  42. His “poor mom” should have raised him better.
    There are prisons full of men whose mom’s still swear their sweet nice boy is innocent and would never do such a thing (be it murder or rape).
    Let her be confronted with who she really raised.
    I’d sent it to his dad, too. Or are they not partly responsible for this?
    Is he not the result of their efforts as parents?
    Should they be unaware of how he treats others?

    And another vote for Benedict. I agree with everything s/he wrote as well as Kate Griffiths’ view on how the denial or refusal to see the negative aspects of people we love is how evil happens…

    And yes, it does perpetuate rape culture, as evidenced by his reply…. what would his reply be if his physical advances were rejected in person? What do you think it would be?

    Still can’t believe this article is somehow excusing this type of behaviour – he wasn’t threatened with prison, a fine or a beating, he was threatened that his attitude would be shown to someone who knows him, when it really isn’t just his mom who needs to know. All his female contacts should be aware of him. So yeah, that’s how it reads….

    The author might think me and others here to be blowing things out of proportion, and not so long ago I would have agreed, because I really thought misogyny like racism to be a thing of the past or on a fast track to extinction. But the same way I’m very aware that racism has only diminished in a more or less cosmetic fashion, I’ve been aware recently (props to you on that) that it hasn’t at all, and been very negatively surprised at some things and attitudes I witnessed from younger people that I really thought knew better.
    I only tell a racist or misogynist joke to people who can appreciate humour and not see it as a justification for their bigoted attitudes or misinterpret it as an attitude of mine. I’m sure most readers here will obviosly know you’re not defending this guy, but how many victims of this sort of harassment or worse will read this and think their suffering diminished or unjustified on account of this?
    How many teenagers getting this sort of pics on their smartphones will fear telling anyone about this after reading this article?

  43. Hi Anna

    I should probably point out that there is no ‘whole of the Vagenda’ – we have so many different writers on a range of topics with a range of opinions which often conflict, as is normal for any group of autonomous individuals. We’re not a business or a company or an organisation. It’s a blog. There is no party line and a comment under ‘The Vagenda Team’ does not necessarily reflect the opinions of all of our writers. For example, I still stand by 100% what I wrote but perhaps by co-editor doesn’t (I haven’t asked her). However, it’s important to engage with commenters and I should probably reiterate that there is no such thing as an ‘official’ vagenda voice.

  44. But for previous articles, writers have posted messages in the comments sections under their own blogger handles, not the Vagenda’s. I think Anna is recommending that you do so too, with which I would tend to agree.

  45. Heya! Thought it might be worth responding on here (although I emailed the Vagenda team a couple of times about this too, and their responses were more than reasonable!)

    I appreciate that some of the things I responded to were jokes, and sorry if I missed the point in places!

    Also, to clarify, I agree that the question of whether we should “forward” harassment for effect is an important one, and it certainly made me think about how I’d handle a similar situation. Looking back, I did ask for the article to be removed, and I appreciate that that’s an extreme reaction, when a simple disclaimer or a couple of edits would do the trick. Sorry about that.

    The only issue I (and apparently others) had was that there seemed to be an attempt to excuse the guy’s behaviour. Whether it was intentional or not, it’s obviously possible to read the article and come away thinking that “Whoever wrote this thinks that sending a picture on to someone’s mum is worse than sending the picture in the first place.” That alone merits a disclaimer or edit, in my view, because there is always the possibility that it might upset people or make people worry that their experience of similar harassment was not valid. (Stress on “might”, because I obviously agree that people can make their own minds up about this kind of thing.)

    So yeah. Sorry for the absolutist rhetoric!

  46. Wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG! Sending an unsolicited cock shot IS sexual harassment. I don’t give a good god damn what the last gals liked (and perhaps they are so inured to rape culture, they would not speak up if they didn’t?) HE DID NOT OBTAIN CONSENT AND THAT IS THE EPITOME OF RAPE CULTURE!!! I don;t feel the LEAST bit of sympathy for Trevor – ignorance is NOT an excuse. That argument would have gotten the Steubenville rapists off in court – they were ignorant that their actions were so harmful. Fuck this article.

  47. We’re not perpetuating victim-blaming, we are showcasing another viewpoint. One which, despite some of the angry comments here, lots of people on Twitter felt was balanced. Just because it was wrong that the woman received the message in the first place doesn’t give her carte blanche to behave however she wants without considering the feelings of others (because that’s what Trevor did, right?). We have never been a website to toe the party line and we’re not about to start now. There has to be some recognition that we’re talking about something that is not the same thing as rape.

    Our attitude to victim-blaming, as ever, remains the same.

  48. This IS my blogger handle, but it isn’t just mine, as I made clear in the first comment. I don’t have any other blogger handle because I don’t have any other blog apart from this one. When we host writers who aren’t part of the original group of contributors they have their own email addresses and often their own blogs, but that doesn’t mean that our own views represent those of everyone who has ever written for the website, because that would be silly.

  49. I love the idea of ratting guys like this out to their mothers, whenever some guy tries to justify grabbing my arse as ‘just a bit of fun’, I like to ask whether they would like someone doing it to their mother. Quite apart from the fact that it calls into question the standards to which they hold their treatment of women, it makes them confront that the women they harass may indeed by someone’s mother.