Women Are Finding Creative Ways To Combat Unsolicited Dick Pics
Women around the world have begun sending fake arrest messages to men who send them unwanted dick pics.
The idea is to essentially call out shitty behaviour from men, who might not realise that an unwanted dick pic counts as sexual harassment.
Dick Pics Are Still A Thing
Why do people still think it’s ok to send unsolicited sexual images online? And why are women the ones who are (mostly) still copping the burden of stopping it from happening.
Alexandra Tweten: “I’ve gotten submissions and reports from women all over, saying that they’re still getting unsolicited dick pics and online harassed during the pandemic. So, I think it’s still definitely a problem.”
That’s Alexandra Tweten, founder of the hugely successful Instagram account @byefelipe, which encourages women to screenshot and share the worst messages they’ve been sent by men online.
It is one of the many social media accounts dedicated to naming and shaming harmful online behaviour.
AT: “Everyone in the comments just like, taking that person down and saying, ‘this is horrible, like you can’t do that’ … [the account has] really become about taking the power away from the men, or the people who harass us, and giving it back to the women.”
Now with half a million followers, Bye Felipe continues to call out men who turn hostile when they’ve been rejected or ignored. And it’s become a safe haven for women wanting to share their experiences with online harassment.
AT: “Once it kind of blew up, the goals kind of changed for me and I just wanted to create a community for women so they could stand up for each other, and provide support for each other. And the other thing I wanted to do was let guys know what it’s like to be a woman, and let them take a peek into what we get in our inboxes.”
Why Won’t Dick Pics Go Away?
It’s been six years since Alexandra created her account, and she told me that – even though women are louder than ever in calling this stuff out – unsolicited dick pics don’t seem to be going away.
Under Australian law, sending an unwanted dick pic is illegal and actually a form of harassment.
If you’re under 18 and sending them, it’s a serious crime because of the federal laws around child exploitation.
And if you’re 18 and over, in the eyes of the law it’s a form of sexual harassment, a misuse of technology to cause offence, or even stalking if the behaviour continues.
But regardless of these laws, no one’s ever been prosecuted for sending unwanted dick pics, and women are kind of tired of it.
Many women have started to send fake automated arrest messages to men who send them unwanted images, and most people don’t even bother reporting these cases to the police because it’s kind of just easier to block someone.
AT: “It’s really important that we are able to block and report, and find help when we need it. But also, at the same time, it’s more than that because it’s a societal problem. It’s not going to change until society changes, and until we say, ‘hey this is not ok’.
Because what is it in our society that tells men that it’s ok to do this stuff – to send unsolicited dick pics? Why does that happen so often? Until we change that part, it’s going to keep going.”
Associate Professor Anastasia Powell has written a report on Image Based Abuse in Australia. She believes that education on digital dating and sexual consent should be made mandatory in schools, universities, workplaces and even sporting clubs.
She thinks it would teach people that, by not asking permission before sending a sexual image, they could be charged for harassment.
And more importantly, she believes that a clearer line needs to be drawn about online consent. After all, if you want to send a sexy picture to someone, that’s totally fine and actually really common. But you should always ask them first – no matter their age, sex or gender.
The bottom line is: women are just really over being the ones to call out toxic behaviour, without seeing any real change.
And even though sending fake arrest messages to the perpetrators can scare them away, it highlights just how much more authorities should be doing to protect victims of online harassment.