I briefly found myself in a Twitter conversation yesterday about sending nudes – and specifically, about sending them before you’ve actually been on a date with someone (or, by extension, been to bed with them). Unsurprisingly, my position on this is pretty relaxed: do it if you both want to do it, don’t do it if you don’t, and at all times make sure you’re not pushing onto the other person something they’d rather not see.
Not everyone holds that view, of course, and that’s absolutely fine. Plenty of the reasons people have for not doing it make perfect sense, whether they involve a reluctance to sexualise something too early, concern about privacy/security, or simply a lack of interest in looking at that kind of image. However, there’s one argument against sharing naked photos that’s always bothered me, and I’d never really stopped to think why until it got rolled out again yesterday.
Yep, seeing someone’s genitals – or tits, or arse, or whatever – in photographic form before you’ve seen them in the flesh apparently means foregoing some/most/all of the ‘mystery’ attached to them, and by extension to, I dunno, the sex you’re going to have? The person him/herself? To which I have this to say: really??
Look, I don’t blame anyone – women especially – for picking up on that line and repeating it. It’s a pretty standard trope, for one thing, and it has clear practical value as an easy, safe way of deflecting the question when some guy is asking you for nudes and you don’t want to send them. But no-one genuinely believes it, do they?
Because what does a 2-D representation of a potential partner’s naked body actually tell you – that you couldn’t get from seeing them clothed? The colour of their nipples. The size of their cock. How they maintain their pubic hair. Scars. Birthmarks. Assorted lumps and bumps. Those things might well be important to you, and I agree that they’re fun to discover for yourself, but they’re also just a tiny part of who that person is and what they’re like in bed.
There’s this tendency to think of nude photos – and sometimes sexting in general – as spoilers for the movie you’re about to see or the book you’ve just picked up. I prefer to see them as trailers and blurbs: yes, they might give you an idea of what you’re going to watch or read, but they don’t come close to offering the full experience.
How could they, when sex is about so much more than what someone looks like? Nudes tell me nothing about how a partner will smell or taste. The noises she’ll make. The way she’ll kiss me, or touch me, or curl her body into mine. They don’t reveal chemistry or compatibility; rhythm or fit. Kinks and desires. Those are the mysteries I want to unravel – and, at least for a while maybe, to preserve.
To be honest, they don’t even tell me much about what her actual naked body will look like. The moving, squirming, glistening body I get to run my hands over and gaze up at as she slides down my cock. Compared to that, even the most spectacular selfie will always feel like a sideshow – the tasty canape you pop into your mouth before a delicious three-course meal.
Imagination is a powerful tool, which necessarily plays an important role in building attraction. I love thinking about the sex I might have with someone new, and even more than that I love the tease that comes from exploring that with them. It enhances the anticipation, rather than diminishing it; allows mystery to flourish and grow, rather than bringing it to an end. Naked photos make up one fun – optional – component of a much bigger picture, and that’s true whether I’ve met the other person in the flesh by that point or not. They are, in the best possible sense, merely the tip of the iceberg.