Sexting with your crush is not just a way to give your comatose dating life a push in the pandemic age, it is also a way of sneaking in some thrill into your routine. But every time your thumb hovers over that send button, do you feel hesitation knocking at the back of your head? Is it safe to be sending such a private picture to the guy I have known for days, or months or even years? What if this one DM sent in the heat of the moment comes to bite me back in the arse later? Deleting pictures from DMs- is this something we can even expect a guy to do on our request, or should we trust them and carry on?
Most women feel the need to be extra careful when it comes to sending pictures which can range from a selfie to a very private picture. The reason for caution comes from the distrust we might have in a person’s intentions towards the pictures. And most women develop this distrust from their own past bad experiences or that of others around them.
Will my picture end up on a porn website? Will he share it with his friends for fun? Can I trust him to keep under a digital lock and key, so that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands? Women have to think about these questions and much more even before they contemplate clicking a picture to be sent. But surprisingly when asked if they were to send the same image to a woman, will they still feel hesitant, many replied with a firm “no”.. The trust in other women is instinctive but is it worthy?
When it comes to direct messages or DMs, an important question to ask would be, are you okay with guys not deleting your picture from DMs? Do you mind letting your intimate pictures sitting in a guy’s phone long after you have parted ways? Or do you obsess over it?
On being asked if she has sent her pictures to a man off late, Purnima Vijaya, social media manager from Delhi tells SheThePeople, “Not lately, no. When I was much younger and didn’t know much about how the internet functions, what’s safe and what isn’t, I probably engaged in it more.”
Now when it comes to sending pictures to men she considers important things, “Firstly, am I identifiable in the picture and secondly, is the person I am interacting with safe,” says Purnima.
But she is very firm when it comes to men saving her pictures in their DMs and wants them to be deleted. “If I have specifically requested for the picture to be deleted, then I want it gone. I won’t be comfortable with the person refusing to delete it. The idea that you should be able to withdraw consent at any given point is also relevant here—I might have sent something out of my own will, but if I want it to be out of your reach, then that’s my prerogative too,” says Vijaya.
When it comes to whether a woman wants her pictures deleted or not, trust becomes the deciding factor.
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Aisha (name changed as requested), a student from Siliguri in West Bengal would rather not send pictures to just any random guy “than to sit and beg them to delete it later.” She vehemently believes that when it comes to sexting, the guys will not delete the pictures even if you ask them nicely.
Aisha says she shares her photos for both professional and personal reasons. On her professional front, she will ask for clarity before sending a picture of hers to a man but may not sweat much on it.
But when it comes to her personal space, she needs to be in a regular chat with a man on social media to even think of sending her photos. “ If it is a guy friend in real life, we again send pictures very randomly without giving it a second thought because then what’s in our mind is he is trustable after all it’s been a long time,” Aisha says.
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Though we know that there are delete options everywhere, we very well know how screenshots can be taken of pictures and be easily misused.
We also have to acknowledge that gender plays a big role in the dynamics here. “In sexting, this is also voluntarily done by both the parties… however being women we are worried about its misuse and sharing pictures while sexting is done very consciously by the women,” Aisha says. But not everyone feels picture lying in a guy’s DMs is something a girl should worry about all the time.
Other than casual chatting or flirting, Nirmaya Tamang, who is a political science masters student, does not feel awkward in sending her pictures to her partner. In fact, she feels it endearing when the man does not delete it and keep it in their phone’s storage, with permission.
“Although, if we break up and I ask my photos to be deleted, I want it that way. If a man does not then I feel heckled,” Tamang adds.
Neelanjana Mondal, a journalist, too adds that she has not met a guy who has misused any of her pictures, “Pictures only go after I sort of trust that person. If there’s no trust, I will not send a picture in the first place: That’s my take. Haven’t run into any problems with guys’ regular pictures in my 24.5 years of existence. Hoping it stays the same!”