This intimate picture exhibition isn’t art or a statement, it’s exploitation

dick pic art show

Some men are in the habit of aggressively sending pictures of their junk to people. With politicians and professional athletes landing on Page Six for their enthusiasm for the crotch shot, the dick pic has officially gone mainstream. There’s even an art show opening up at Morgan Avenue Underground, a Brooklyn gallery that will feature a series of photos called “Show Me More: A Collection of Dick Pix.”

At first glance, the exhibition appears to be an interesting turning of the tables, exposing the harassment of a few crude guys by sharing their unwelcome advances with the broader world. But hold up. As Vice found out, these photos weren’t unsolicited at all. 

Members of Future Femme explained to Vice how they amassed their stash of explicit photos. “Most of the women have gone the straightforward route in collecting dick pics, using versions of their real OKCupid profiles and brief conversations—sometimes just going right for the jugular and straight-up asking for a dick pic, avoiding flirtation and conversation at all costs,” writes Talia Beth Ralph. “One of the artists, however, went a step further by posing as a gay man on Grindr and wound up with 150 photos.”

“This essentially is a revenge porn website in real life.”

The artist who received her pics by posing as a gay male said that she did not intend to mock or shame the men whose photos she is displaying, but if the intention is to examine the practice of sending this sort of picture in a neutral way, why not just be upfront about the project? If the artists had put out an open call for submissions, it’s hard to imagine they would have trouble finding men willing to share photos, especially if they are actually kept anonymous. Collecting the photos surreptitiously suggests that the artists knew they would have difficulty obtaining these photos without the pretense of a private exchange – after all, why risk the legal ramifications of sharing these pictures if they could’ve grown a collection of dick pics from willing participants?

Sharing explicitly sexual photos people take without their permission is wrong, no matter who is doing it. It’s wrong when revenge porn sites do it, it’s wrong when people in “Snapchat Leaked” communities do it, it’s wrong when the Redditors of r/creepshots did it, it’s wrong when anybody does it, even if they’re doing it at a well-lit art gallery and not a seedy online forum.

“I think there’s definitely an ethical issue here,” says Holly Jacobs, an activist and academic who runs a website called End Revenge Porn. Jacobs has firsthand experience with websites publishing explicit photos of her without her consent. “They went out and solicited these pictures without the men’s knowledge that they were going to use them and put them up in a gallery. Even though their faces aren’t attached, I still think these guys would take issue with the fact that pictures of their private parts are put up on display without their consent.”

“This essentially is a revenge porn website in real life.” 

“Taking pictures they collected under false pretenses and putting them on display for the world to see without the subject’s consent, it’s the same thing that’s happening on these websites,” Jacobs says. ”Guys were going on Plenty of Fish and Craigslist and meeting girls, kind of starting a false relationship online, eventually asking for nude photos and the girls would send them nude photos, and then the guys would put it up on these websites.” 

One small sliver of a silver lining: Jacobs’ lawyer, Patrick McGeehan, says that if the subjects of these photos live in New Jersey, they may have more legal recourse, since there is a law against revenge porn on the books there. “If the victim was in New Jersey, became a victim through the Internet, because it’s interstate commerce, it should be actionable in New Jersey under the criminal statute,” McGeehan says, although he noted that it’s up to the prosecutor to decide. So if any of the men on Grindr or Scruff were over in Hoboken, they may be able to take serious action. 
It’s disappointing to see a group of artists who have the ability to get their art up in galleries choosing to violate other people. Who wouldn’t be furious to see an intimate picture sent in a supposedly one-on-one conversation on public display in an art show?

Anyone whose dick pic ends up in the gallery is within their rights to feel duped and betrayed – and to threaten legal action. It’s especially irritating that people are getting up to this type of callous provocation under the auspices of interrogating gender norms. It’s cheap and exploitative, and it is neither a feminist statement nor art.

Social Media

Instagram’s new Explore grid tempts you to open your wallet

Instagram has made some changes to its Explore tab that might tempt you into the occasional shopping spree. It's also planning to add Stories to the grid, mixing them up with the existing photos and videos.
Social Media

6 easy ways to archive all of your favorite Instagram videos

Saving Instagram videos should be just as easy as taking a screenshot. So, we've put together a list of the best apps and tools that save your favorite Instagram videos onto your phone or computer.
Social Media

Be the master of your own Insta-verse with multiple Instagram accounts

Whether you own a small business or have separate Instagram accounts for your five cats, we'll walk you through the process of switching between your multiple accounts on your Apple or Android devices.
Social Media

A fond farewell to Grumpy Cat, the internet’s most famous feline

We say farewell and fondly remember Grumpy Cat, the internet's famous frowning feline and a genuine sweetheart, who died at the age of seven. Even tempered and tolerant, Grumpy Cat was in real life the opposite of her online persona.
Mobile

Treat your selfie with one of these 13 apps made to beautify your pics

Selfies might be a phenomenon second only to karaoke, but they're not the easiest thing in the world to create. Thankfully, these awesome selfie apps for Android and iOS will make beautifying your self-portraits easier than capturing them.
Web

Creators of WhatsApp attack software face lawsuit from Amnesty International

This week a spyware attack was launched on WhatsApp. Now the Israeli firm linked to that attack is facing a lawsuit from human rights NGO Amnesty International, alleging their software has been used to surveil human rights defenders.
Mobile

New York could dish out fines for texting while crossing the street

Do you text on your phone while crossing the street? The dangers of stepping out in front of a car or bus are obvious, but in New York, offenders could soon face a fine of as much as $250, too.
Social Media

Help wanted: British royal family seeks social media wiz to run its accounts

The British royal family is looking for a social media expert to help it communicate its role and activities to the masses. So if you like the idea of having the Queen as your boss, why not throw your hat in the ring?
Social Media

Millions of Instagram influencers reportedly had private data exposed online

As many as 49 million Instagram influencers have reportedly had their private data exposed in an online database that had no password protection. The database was apparently created by a marketing firm and has been taken offline.
Social Media

Twitter co-founder Ev Williams still wants to save the world

Social media is evil, leading to a mental health crisis in Gen Z and a rise in hate speech. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel, says Ev Williams, the co-founder of Twitter. But weaning ourselves off today's social media won't be…
Social Media

Facebook gets a bad rap, former exec says, but we should break it up anyway

The rise of hate speech, the trolling, the comment on Facebook? Not Facebook's fault, says Alex Stamos, the social network's former chief security officer. But the site should still be broken up, he says.
Web

What is Reddit? A beginner’s guide to the front page of the internet

If you spend much time online, you've probably heard of Reddit. Here, we break down the terminology, perks, and inner workings of everyone's favorite social platform. Understanding the "front page of the internet" has never been so easy.
Mobile

Looking for love or just some fun? Cozy up with the best dating apps of 2019

Everyone knows online dating can be stressful, time-consuming, and downright awful. Check out our top picks for the best dating apps, so you can streamline the process and find the right date, whatever you're looking for.
Social Media

Vertical video haters win the war — Instagram’s IGTV has a horizontal view

Not yet sold on the idea of vertical video? The traditional horizontal aspect ratio is headed to Instagram's IGTV, thanks to today's update. The change allows horizontal images to fill the screen with the device rotated.