Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dick pics

I sometimes come across videos like this

or pictures like this

This is very interesting to me because it shows how people have no idea what is going on in their own brains.

Let us start with the question: why an unwanted image of a dick causes us to have an emotional reaction (and it seems that both man and women have a similar reaction after looking at a stranger’s dick – some mixture of shame and the feeling of being intimidated)? I remember when I was talking to a male friend on Skype not so long ago. Another male friend of mine stood behind him and suddenly pulled his pants off and showed his dick to the camera. My immediate reaction was to curse and look away in disgust. The thing is that unlike many people who send dick pics, my friend perfectly knew what he was doing – he has read The Human Zoo by Desmond Morris. I did too, but the trick nevertheless worked.

So why do dicks evoke these emotions in us? Do we learn to be scared by dicks? When and how exactly do we learn about this? Somebody tells us? Or do we need an unpleasant experience with a dick that belongs to somebody else?

There is no reason to be afraid of a dick if you had none of such experiences. But people still do have these emotions. So what causes them?

Another example I know is when I was just a few years old and I was playing at a riverbank with a group of female friends, all of them a few years old. A dude with a mustache was riding a bike nearby. He stopped close to us, silently pulled down his pants and showed us his junk with a smile on his face. The girls started screaming and run away. I probably did the same thing, although I do not remember well, as it was so much time ago (by the way none of us thinks about this as a traumatic experience now; it was quite benign; after the incident the guy rode off and we never saw him again). Of course, nobody explained to us before that this was an appropriate reaction in such a situation. But it seemed appropriate. Why?

The answer is that this is our innate instinct. We have inherited from our ancestors some types of social interaction that are guided (among others) by genital display. People who observe primates know that the genital display is a way to communicate social status in a group. Dominant male individuals show their dicks much more often than other individuals. Human brains are wired in a similar way. Seeing somebody’s dick makes you feel intimidated and human intuition sometimes makes guys show their dicks in order to intimidate others.

A woman often feels disgust after seeing stranger’s dick, yet she may think that his intention was to arouse her and the man had no idea that his dick looked gross to her. A men asked why he sent a dick pic would probably say something like that: “it was a joke; I wanted to embarrass her; I like to show off my masculinity.” What is really going on, is that when a man wants to intimidate a woman (or less often another man), his primate intuition tells him to show off his dick. The woman verbally misidentifies his intentions but emotionally responds in an intended way. The act achieves its goal. Note that the man also somewhat misidentifies what really caused him to do this. It is because he acts on his animal instinct.

So, as it turns out, unwanted dick pics are a product of our ancestral way to ensure group cohesion through authority structure. These mechanisms have not much use nowadays but they still hang around aimlessly in our brains causing trouble. Moreover, the example of dick pics shows nicely how our verbal processing is disconnected from the part of the brain where we actually make decisions. Neither a man nor a woman verbally understand their own role in this situation – unless they are educated in anthropology or primatology.

If you want to read more, I recommend:

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