The year was 2006 and I was heading home from school. Sitting at Newtown station clutching my charity Freddo Frog box – ski trip $wag dreams, baby – I patiently waited for the 3:50pm train heading west. Sneakily slipping my hand into the box to retrieve one of those fine strawberry-filled treats, I hardly noticed a dude sit down beside me, pull out his old mate, and indulge in a bit of an afternoon delight himself.
Fast forward eight years and I’m walking out of Shortlist Café and I run into an old pal. After he suggests we grab a beer sometime, we swap numbers and I carry on to Fisher for some nerdy times. A few hours later he adds me on SnapChat, then I receive a snap. Spotted in the middle of 2 hour loans: a stark, unavoidable, unimpressive and most importantly, unwanted…hairy penis (I tried to think of a more subtle term, but none came to mind).
For me, the two situations are not dissimilar. Unsolicited pics sent by smartphone or any other technological device is flashing for the 21st century. What started as a couple of nipples and petty games of ‘Cock or Ball?’ on a Nokia has developed into a massive exchange of – mostly unwanted – premeditated harassment for the tech-savvy predator.
Perhaps it was round after round of literal wankers on Chatroulette that acclimatised us to this never ending barrage of n00dz, but I can’t help but wonder if the casualisation of genitalia on our gadgets has got us forgetting exactly what constitutes harassment. When one sends an unwanted naked photo to anyone – be they friend, family, colleague or stranger – they are forcing sexual intimidation upon the receiver. What’s worse is the fact that, similarly to all other cyber bullying, the receiver is often isolated with the image, unable to respond and possibly affected in personal ‘safe’ spaces.
As your average 21-year-old I’ve seen my fair share of cock n’ balls (trust me on this one), but when the photo of that fleshy phallus hit my iPhone 4S I felt as uncomfortable as my 14-year-old self waiting for the train to Strathfield. What I didn’t feel was excited, turned on, or like I would be boning the photo-sender anytime soon. Like the flasher at the station, the photo-sender hadn’t physically hurt me, hadn’t touched me, hadn’t even made eye contact with me, but he had violated me none the less.
It’s time we stopped laughing at this practice and started calling it what it really is: cowardly, embarrassing and pretty darn pathetic. If it happens to you, call your sender out, publicise, or better yet, contact your local police station. It’s time we started admitting that people who force the viewing of their junk via devices are little better than
your street corner creep in a trench coat.