Unsolicited pictures of male genitalia (or pictures of penises) are a form of sexual harassment. In an earlier YouGov UK survey, it was found that 54 per cent of women (18-24) surveyed had received a photo of a penis, and 47 per cent of this figure was unsolicited. This survey also highlighted that 46 percent of millennial women who received these images for the first time did so before the age of 18.
Currently in the UK it is classified as indecent and a sexual offense if an adult male sends a picture of a penis to anyone under the age of 18 and it is classified as an illegal act for minors to produce images of themselves as it is classified as child pornography. Despite these illegal restrictions, these images continue to be sent to young people, and the researchers have published a study in the journal. sex roles that investigates the experience of adolescent girls (11-18).
In the study, researchers conducted workshops at seven diverse secondary schools in the UK. This allowed the 144 participants to physically explain and draw their experiences of receiving and sharing images on different social media applications.
It was found that 76 per cent of the girls in the study had received a photo of their penis and 70 per cent had been asked to submit nude photos; often this request was made after an unsolicited picture of his penis was sent to them in an attempt to initiate “trades”. Most of these images were often from unknown senders, however, some were sent by peers in the girl’s network, “friends of friends” or peers known only online.
This study highlighted the problem with Snapchat: often the first time girls received these types of images was on this app, when no privacy features were enabled. The app helps normalize this content as people can remain anonymous and the content is only available for a short period of time.
It is often easier for a young person to block senders or ignore any message than to report it to the authorities. The girls surveyed described a normalization of the images as you “get used to it” and “laugh and go on”.
In schools, there is a stigma associated with submitting a picture of a penis, and it is often assumed that people receiving a picture participated in a commercial setting and returned a nude image. This blaming and shaming of victims had affected the girls emotionally and made it even more difficult for them to report the bullying.
In a small part of the girls, the images were not viewed negatively, and receiving unwanted penis photos was considered a badge of desire. Despite this, there were still some sexual double standards displayed, and when some girls asked for the pictures, they faced stigma and shame that they did not display to their male counterparts.
Overall, this type of research highlights the need for platform-specific guidance on privacy settings and reporting, but in such a way that the girls who are sent the images are not re-victimized or held accountable for doing so. handle their own bullying. Also, more education is needed as reports were limited because many of the young men did not understand that non-consensual penis photos are a form of harassment.