Against the “Send Nudes” Culture. Why We Should Not Send Our Naked Photos

Sending one’s nudes and demanding them from others has become almost normal on dating apps. It is also increasingly common to encounter attempts to force one to send nudes, and even blackmail in the style of either you send a completely undressed photo, or I will not meet you.

“Send Nudes” Culture Is Not Natural

On dating apps, sending and requesting nude photos has become almost normal. Additionally, it’s becoming increasingly common to encounter attempts to force one to send nudes, and even blackmail in the style of either you send a completely undressed photo, or I will not meet you.

It is a lot easier for Machiavellian individuals in an environment where sending nude photos has become commonplace. It is more difficult for those who just want to get to know someone and create an authentic relationship. They can have more and more problems with finding themselves in such a reality.

Our very intuition tells us that there is something wrong with taking and sending one’s nude photos. Also, many people who, after all, practice it admit in the conversation that they would prefer the world of dating not to look like that. And yet that is exactly what it is. The threshold for entry into this type of exchange is very low, and dating apps do not restrict such activity. Thus, the system is dominated by individuals representing this type of behavior, which – whether we want it or not – becomes more prevalent.

The problem is visible on dating sites. Men, often with sexual paraphilia or Cluster B personality disorders, are prone to expose, for example, their genitals, women are willing to show their breasts, but under persuasion, they also send full nudes.

If someone hasn’t dated for many years and hasn’t looked upon the era of online dating, visiting a dating site can shock them. The sites present fully nude photos, often leaving much to be desired also in terms of hygiene. It is on such a portal that the famous recording of kneading pizza dough with a penis was published. The author was identified and fired.

Send nudes culture: A scantily dressed girl sticks her tongue out and makes a selfie
Photo: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

Young People with Smartphones

“Send nudes” culture also concerns young people. As shown in the Teenagers 3.0 study conducted by the Research and Academic Computer Network – State Research Institute (Naukowa i Akademicka Sieć Komputerowa – Państwowy Instytut Badawczy, NASK PIB) published in 2023, as many as one-third of adolescents have received a nude or semi-nude photo from someone, and more than 12% of respondents answered that it was “hard to say” whether they have received such. Only 55% answered “no”. Before the smartphone era, nearly 100% of those asked would probably have answered that way.

Almost 6% of teenagers say they sent their own “nudes” to someone, but another nearly 6% respond that it is “hard to say.” The real number of young people sending their naked photos can oscillate around as much as 10%. Given the fact that these are surveys on a shameful subject, it is very possible that these declarations, especially those relating to sending someone one’s photos, are understated.

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“Send Nudes” Culture and Its Apologists

The feeling that sending and receiving nude photos is not appropriate is one thing. However, it is worth putting it into concrete words and turning it into arguments. The first is spoiling the “ecosystem” of dating. When such an exchange becomes common practice – and let’s remember that it can be disseminated by a relatively small group of people who send their naked photos to many users – those who do not like it, that is, the majority, will experience at least pressure in this direction anyway. This also undermines the argument about (pseudo)consensus explaining that if both parties want it, it is OK. This is where extreme individualism does not work. The behavior of individuals affects the entire system. Besides, this circumstance is used by obvious perverts, forcing sending nude photos to them, also on minors.

Narcissistic, antisocial, and histrionic individuals feel in a dating environment as happy as a clam at high water. This not only makes dating more difficult for all the rest but also strengthens the distorted mental patterns of the alleged beneficiaries of functioning with this ultra-liberal approach. Those who do not see anything wrong with such behavior, or those who are satisfied with it, somewhat deepen their problems or at least take away their chance to minimize them. They are like fish in an aquarium sunken in a lake. Instead of swimming out to freedom, they keep circling between one glass and another.

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Nudity and Relationships

Hardly anything does vulgarize social relations in this very sensitive sphere, which is the area of dating, forming relationships, and then families. Stripping nudity from its intimacy hits its uniqueness. Mutual nudity is, after all, one of the most important factors channeling the drive of attachment to a partner – and it is the partner, taking care of them, that will largely decide about the durability of the relationship.

It is worth noting that the key element of the aforementioned personality disorders, that is narcissism, borderline, histrionics, and psychopathy, and additionally masochism and sadism, is the attachment disorder, formed in childhood or sometimes, as in the case of psychopathy, can be innate. People with dysfunction of this drive are characterized by promiscuity, which is also an informal auxiliary diagnostic criterion. Nowadays, it is them who largely call the tune for the “matrimonial market.”

“Send Nudes” Culture vs Privacy

We must also not forget about privacy issues. “Nothing is lost on the internet” – this slogan will remain valid as long as the global network exists. Naked photos, even those not shared publicly, but only sent to someone in a private message, are also used to train artificial intelligence and may be used to generate fake photos and images. There are many other threats to privacy as well – spreading such materials, using them for blackmail, and presenting them, for example, to children who will be born even years after they are sent. It is really difficult to find any positives in this practice.

What is important is to remember that it is thanks to private and public pornography that algorithms capable of creating cyberpornography are built, of which virtually anyone can already become a victim, or rather a “hero.”

Send nudes culture: a shocked young girl on her bed is looking at something on her smartphone
Photo: Andrea Piacquadio

Traditional Norms and Their Discontents

Times have changed. The times have changed. The discourse about the continuous crossing of borders and breaking stereotypes arose when the school could punish children for just about anything, the Church stigmatized many ordinary, spontaneous behaviors, and the law forbade more than today. Because of stupidity, one could get into their neighbors’ black books and easily be considered an outcast. For years, the demands not to obey had been justified. But today it is no longer so. So many people break not only stereotypes, but even the common rules of courtesy and social coexistence, therefore, undermining everything has become the new norm. Continuous deconstruction has gone too far, far beyond the threshold of rational analysis of the world.

New, Toxic Standards

However, it is the “traditional” system that, despite its flaws, in principle protected individuals and held society together. Simple norms about dating, such as the issue of who pays on the first meeting, and that it is not appropriate to dwell on one’s “exes” at the beginning, or to press on sex, protected both parties and fostered the formation of a stable relationship based on love. Today, for refusing to send someone one’s naked photo – and let’s be honest, such suggestions are simply boorish and brazen – it is more possible that one will read that they are “prudish” or “conservative” (or in Poland, supporting one of the major political parties – PiS) as an answer… rather than an apology.

If the freedom of the individual ends where the freedom of others begins, then those who send and expect naked photos violate that freedom on at least three levels. First, when they send such photos, especially without notice. Second, expecting such “in return.” Third, shaping toxic standards for starting relationships. They contribute to the creation of an environment in which showing minors nudes or asking them for their own, begins to seem much more innocent than it really is.

Translation: Marcin Brański

Polish version: Przeciwko kulturze nudesów. Wszystko o wysyłaniu nagich zdjęć

Published by

Łukasz Sakowski


Lukasz Sakowski is a biologist, journalist and science blogger. He is a biology graduate, co-founder of the Polish March for Science, and organizer of the plebiscite for Biological Nonsense of the Year. He covers scientific, biological and social topics, among others. He writes for many Polish newspapers and portals.

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