Parenting

Hey Men, Your Uninvited Sexual Communications Are NEVER Okay

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I write on the internet for a living. Every week, I spend hours sharing snippets of my life’s truth. I do this in an effort to connect with people and make the world feel more friendly. I spend my time and energy crafting personal essays for content and conciseness. Every time I publish an essay, I know miserable people are going to shit on it (and me) when it hits the website. It’s par for the course, and I accept it.

As a person who writes specifically about life in a fat body, I open myself up to a lot of strong opinions. Fatphobia is alive and well, and faux health concerns are a fact of my life. I could probably have a lifetime supply of MLM weight loss products if I said yes to a fraction of the people who offer to send me samples.

Rude, for sure. But I can easily handle or ignore all of that.

There is one thing I am so FREAKING tired of ignoring.

I’m really sick of fielding unsolicited sexual messages from men.

In my case, these aren’t always positive messages.

As a fat woman, I get my share of intentionally insulting body-shaming messages. One man told me he would rather hack his own penis off with safety scissors than put it in me. Another said my fat body was a “waste of my pretty face.” One cretin told me I needed to “lose weight or die in a fire,” so my husband could have sex with “a woman instead of a beast.”

I’m not sure why these men think I care. I’m married to a delicious man who can’t get enough of me. But that’s irrelevant because I shouldn’t only be off-limits because I “belong to a man.” Men should be decent to me because I’m a human being. That should be enough.

Even if I was single, nobody who is capable of that level of unkindness would ever be welcome in my body or my bed. They could be Jason Momoa’s long lost twin, and I’d still kick them out of bed for being jerks.

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I’d rather be alone than with a man who degrades other women online for his own entertainment.

Most importantly, strangers literally have no right to discuss their perception of my desirability or their genitals with me EVER for any reason.

Even negative messages about a woman’s body and desirability are unwelcome sexual communication. They’re not okay, and they need to stop.

But if I’m being totally honest, those are not the messages that make me nauseous. Name-calling doesn’t make my skin crawl and my spine tingle. Men who choose to lead with a photo of their erect penis or a detailed description of the things they’d like to do to my body make me feel exponentially more unsafe, uncomfortable and grossed out than the insulting douchebags.

So, men, if you’re reading this, I’d love it if you’d dial in for a minute and truly hear what I have to say.

First order of business: We are not having the “not all men” discussion here. We just are not having it. If this doesn’t apply to you, I’m not talking to you. If you’re a decent guy who keeps his penis to himself until you have enthusiastic consent, congratulations. You don’t suck. Now, listen to women, and try to get your buddies to stop doing this shit.

It’s definitely NOT all men. But it IS plenty of men — enough that this needs to be said. You should try to listen without being defensive.

Please hear what I’m trying to say.

Sending sexual messages to women who didn’t agree to be sexual with you is not an acceptable way to spend your time. Ever. At all.

I polled a few hundred women to ask how they feel about getting dick pics and explicit messages from men without warning.

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A little more than half of them reported that they find unwanted sexual communication to be annoying and laughable. They see your photo or message, think, “What a loser.” They’re neither intrigued nor interested in you afterward.

The rest of the women I polled find these messages jarring and upsetting. Some survivors of sexual assault even said surprise sexual communication brings back some of the feelings of fear that were planted in them when they suffered physical sexual violence.

Lots of women reported being totally down to sext with a guy they are interested in, but not one woman responded that she actually enjoys getting your photos or messages with no warning.

NOT ONE.

What I’m saying here is that when you send a photo of your penis or some raunchy message you think is sexy, you have a fifty percent chance of ending up screenshotted and shared in the group chat. A handful of the woman’s closest friends are almost certainly going to find something to make fun of. You could be known as the guy with the weird penis forever.

Is that what you want?

But the very real and very BIG problem is that you just don’t know if the woman you surprise will be in the “laugh at your winky” camp or the group that finds your advance truly upsetting.

One beautiful woman said her response depends on her “state of vulnerability” that day. What annoys her today could shatter her tomorrow.

No matter how you intend it, uninvited sexual communication is an irritation AT BEST. These messages ARE NOT compliments.

Maybe you didn’t know that for some women, your sexual messages feel aggressive and threatening, not harmless or funny or flattering.

Now you do.

The thing is, we shouldn’t have to tell you this. It’s not our job to individually educate shitty men on how to be better. You’ve had plenty of years on this planet to learn how not to be an asshole.

But I still feel obligated to tell you that if you’re doing this shit, you ARE being an asshole.

If I didn’t give you permission to be sexual with me, and you do it anyway, that sucks and you’re wrong for it.

At no time should your penis or your sexual desires be part of a woman’s life — even on a screen — without an invitation.

Look, don’t panic. I’m not telling you that you should never send another photo of your glistening erection to another woman ever again. Sexting can be a fun and healthy way for consenting adults to enjoy themselves together. Lots of women are super into it.

I’m just telling you it’s not okay to jump right in without the other person’s consent.

Who do you think you are?

I don’t deserve to receive messages that feel obscene and out of place in my life just because I’m a woman. I’ve crafted the life I want, and your penis isn’t part of it.

Whether your message is positive or negative, a naked photo or explicit words, intentionally raunchy or attempting to be vague, my message to you is the same: Forcing an unwilling participant into a sexual dialogue with you is wrong. Always wrong.

Before you send another sexual message to a woman who didn’t agree to be sexual with you, I hope you’ll consider the way you might be affecting her mind, body, and heart. It’s a pain in the ass to deal with your bullshit.

We deserve to feel safe, and you owe it to us — and yourself — to be better than this.