Anthony Weiner and the Seductive Power of the Dick Pic

Why do famous men keep taking photos of their naked junk?

In all of human history, I wonder: Has a woman ever been seduced by a dick pic?

My reason for asking this question should be obvious: On Tuesday, it was revealed that Anthony Weiner — former Congressman, current candidate for New York City mayor — had been caught (again!) sexting a woman who wasn’t his wife, (again!) sending pictures of his private parts to that woman, (again!) humiliating himself and his family. The only thing new about the scandal was Weiner’s sexting pseudonym, the awesome-slash-awful “Carlos Danger.”

What a schmuck.

But Weiner’s self-destructive tendencies aren’t really what interest me here. Instead, I wonder why the big sex scandals of the age keep returning to this basic script: Famous man sends picture of his junk to an unfamiliar woman.

Does this work? Are women turned on by this? Is it a bona (heh) fide seduction technique? It doesn’t seem likely to me. So why does this keep happening? To Brett Favre, Greg Oden, Anthony Weiner (again!) and, it seems, hundreds of thousands of dumb teenage boys?

Don’t misunderstand: There are 7.1 billion people living in the world today, and probably at least that many different types of turn-ons. Yes, I’m certain that there is a woman out there (or two, or three, or more) for whom foreplay requires little more than seeing some dude’s naked penis.

But generally speaking, nudity itself has never struck me as being the thing that women desire, at least not nearly the same extent it is for guys. There are strip clubs in every town, magazines featuring women in all states of undress, large portions of the Internet devoted to the same, all so dudes can ogle. Yes, that’s at least partly because society has arranged itself to pander to men’s sexual desires, but where male nudity has been featured, well, that too has often been profitable mostly because of male desire.

So the best I can figure out, then, is that dick pics represent a kind of particularly ugly — just look at them! — strain of narcissism. Guys who know they like seeing naked genitals act accordingly, instead of contemplating and considering what might specifically provoke and elicit desire in the woman they’re approaching. So: dick pics. Basically, they’re a dumb guy’s idea of what turns a woman on.

Of course, my underlying assumption in all of this is that the dudes really are trying to practice the art of seduction — and even that may be giving guys like Weiner too much credit. “I would imagine it has zero to do with turning *her* on,” a friend Tweeted on Saturday.

My wife agreed. “Turning her on was never the objective,” she said of Weiner. “It turned HIM on, and no further thought was required.”

And, well, that’s both very gross and very plausible. In this telling, Weiner — and the rest of the dick pic dudes — don’t really care about a woman’s desire or pleasure, or turning her on at all. Instead, they get their greatest pleasure, their biggest turn-on, from being seen — and imagining themselves to be seen. It’s the erotic gaze turned almost entirely inward.

Which, maybe, makes it all make sense. Those aforementioned teen boys? Probably haven’t learned empathy yet, so they haven’t learned how to turn any part of their gaze outward. And the politicians and sports stars who otherwise seem to lead the pic parade? They’ve spent their lives seeking out the adulation of cheering crowds of tens and even hundreds of thousands of people. It was always about them, so why should their erotic lives be any different? Dick pics, it turns out, are a seduction tool — the problem is that the only person being seduced is the sender.