Have you ever wondered why people so often feel compelled to send each other photos of their naked bodies? According to Wired's Ogi Ogas, we cant help it: the urge to sext is primal, connected to "the design of our sexual brains" rather than celebrity culture or digital connectivity.
But it turns out that men and women don't feel compelled to sext for the same "primal" reasons, because men are from mars and women are from a planet where they crave male attention 24/7 to feel happy. It all boils down to this: men want to show off their dicks but women want to feel desired. While we would never want to science-shame, is it possible that the reasons we send each other nude pics aren't that simple? Let's see.
In his piece, "The Urge to Sext Naked Self-Portraits Is Primal," Ogas cites research that shows more than half of women's sexual fantasies "reflect the desire to be sexually irresistible." In one study, 47 percent of women said they fantasized about being strippers, "harem girls" (uh, was this survey taken near the release of Disney's Aladdin?) or any other performer. Half said they imagined "delighting many men." Ogas argues that this constant need to feel desired is why young women enter wet T-shirt contests and lift their shirts for Girls Gone Wild videos.
Men, on the other hand, just want to whip their dicks out, emulating the male monkeys and apes that display their penises to females to display their sexual interest. Ogas thinks this is why the internet is inundated with penis photos — he points out that one in four Chatroulette cameras are aimed at a penis, which is a truly impressive statistic.
Thus, Ogas arrives at this conclusion:
"Though hordes of men pay to peruse amateur photography depicting the anatomy of ladies, not a single website collects cash from ladies interested in surveying amateur photography of phalluses. It is this marked gender difference in interest that reveals the dichotomous evolutionary pressures shaping male and female exhibitionism: Women feel the conscious desire to catch the universally attentive male eye, but since women's erotic attention is rarely ensnared by a penis, the male exhibitionist urge is comparatively vestigial."
That conclusion feels forced, partially because it's so heteronormative (the only time LGBTQ people are mentioned is in the concluding paragraph, when Ogas notes that the only profitable penis websites are geared towards gay men), but also because there's a huge elephant in the room here (and, sorry Ogas, it's not an elephantine dick): the question of why some women prioritize feeling desired over other forms of sexual satisfaction. Is it just because our crazy lady brains are wired that way? Or, perhaps, is it because we're taught from the time we're little girls about the importance of being conventionally attractive? Maybe men don't feel as strong a need to be desired (and that's kind of a massive over-generalization, isn't it?) because they're not as harshly judged by society on their sexual choices or just plain sexiness. Ogas thinks Girls Gone Wild is so successful because it gives young women "a chance to be ogled by millions of men." But that doesn't necessarily prove that being ogled is sexually fulfilling for these women, just that some women are, unfortunately, susceptible to pressure that showing off your body will result in praise and positive attention.
"Look I'm human, & just like every girl in this world, I admire my body so i take pics," tweeted singer Teyana Taylor after her graphic self-portraits were leaked. Ogas thinks that confession is proof that women are exhibitionists because they want men to admire them. Sure, that may be true for some, but doesn't it sound more like Taylor took the photos because she's proud of her body? Is it so crazy that a woman would want to show off, too? Yes, we all came from monkeys, and men and women are wired differently, but to claim that we have always acted and felt certain ways and that we will continue to do so until the end of time without considering the long-held cultural implications that might contribute to our actions and feelings is problematic.
Image via BestPhotoStudio/Shutterstock.