And do our partners actually want them?
At present, normalized forms of exhibitionism include: Countless Instagram posts showcasing constellations of acne sans filters. OnlyFans accounts, filled with curated kink. Substacks sent to thousands, spewing personal, guttural information to the masses in the form of personal essay. So, in a generation all but famed for its propensity to make public what was once private, it checks out that distributing nudes is more popular than ever. According to a recent GQ poll, 40% of 16- to 24-year-olds agreed sending nudes was the new normal.
Thrilling as it is, though, this data leaves one point unexplored: As the sending of nudes becomes increasingly standardized, how do folks on the receiving end respond? Does anyone actually want dick pics? Nude shots on the whole? Or does pleasure lie more truly with the sender?
Now, it’s impossible to accurately quantify this sort of thing. Most folks will enjoy the charm of a saucy snap every now and then, whether or not they’d actually go out of their way to request it. It may not be what relationships are hinging upon, even while acting as a boner––I mean bonus––treat. That said, according to troves of internet surveys, the occasional deep-cut Reddit thread, and numerous colloquial conversations amongst peers on the nature of nude receipt, here’s what we’ve determined:
While no one we’ve heard from was deeply offended by the receipt of a nude photo (even the most lude of dick pics can often skew more vulnerable than outright offensive), a shocking number of folks reported that they wouldn’t necessarily ask for them. That they weren’t a necessary or even pivotal part of romantic or sexual involvement with another person. Of course, there are plentiful exceptions to any and all rules, but it would seem that few among us are begging for nudie shots.
On the other hand, the sending of nudes does, in fact, seem to be where a great deal of the pleasure lies. Naturally, there’s a fear in sharing nudity over the internet. Folks will often choose to send salacious photos rather than full-frontal editions when their faces or their apartments are featured, while cutting narrative or identifying details out of the raunchier dispatches.
But especially in quarantine, and especially in an era marked by the forms of exhibitionism we enjoy at the hands of our smart phone cameras, it checks out that photographing ourselves in our birthday suits is an art form. It’s a means of glorifying and celebrating our bodies in ways that allow us to feel like we ought to treat our human forms like renaissance paintings. And the sending of said nudes is, well, merely derived from the impulse to find an audience for such artistry. In fact, among folks we spoke with, an impressive number were shooting regular nudes even if not sending them.
Which is to say, the question of: Do people actually WANT nudes is rendered null. Sure, you should earn consent before sending anything scandalous to an unsuspecting partner––and you should respect any boundaries presented to you––but nudes need not be about the recipient. They’re about championing your body in its most natural form, and celebrating the results.