Going Limp

Insert five zillionth 'Weiner' pun here

“To tweet or not to tweet?”—that should have been the question for former U.S. representative Anthony Weiner, whose infamous social media snafu made him and his briefs-ensconced boner a household name synonymous with “moron.” Not only did Weiner’s foray into softcore porn (and subsequent revelations about “sexting” with numerous women) provide a wide berth for dick jokes and puns of every stripe (which he’s probably endured since grammar school on account of his name), it cost him his career in politics.

The argument that what one does in one’s private life should not be subject to public scrutiny went out the window when Weiner made his privates public by inadvertently posting them onto his Twitter stream rather than as a direct message to a 21-year-old Washington state woman. It begs the question, “Why are men so eager to put their penises online?”

Chatroulette, the video chat service that randomly pairs participants in a two-way tete-a-tetes, is notorious as a veritable museum of male masturbation. The site rapidly cycles through chat pairings with either user given the option to hit “next” and move on to another chat—usually within seconds. After cycling through eight live images of users in front of their web cams—bingo!—a crotch shot at the ready.

In the pantheon of paraphilias, exhibitionism is perhaps the most benign, though clinicians describe it as “coercive” since it usually involves forcibly imposing one’s genitalia into another’s line of sight without consent. The notion of an old-school trenchcoat-clad flasher is damn near quaint compared to the lone gunman taking aim at a webcam. Albeit, confronting an exhibitionist in the flesh is surely a harrowing experience, however, it does permit one the ability to express one’s revulsion, reciprocate with bodily harm or perhaps even flash back (any of which may or may not be the offender’s goal).

The online penis parader, however, uses social media to broadcast his exhibitionism from the comfort of his own home. It combines the privacy that end-users of porn expect from direct delivery of content to their laptops with the inversely proportionate ability to broadcast oneself freely, cheaply and nakedly to millions with relative anonymity and without retribution.

This is perhaps one reason that everyone from media pundits to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi came down so, um, hard on Anthony’s weiner. It was as if he received the aggregate slapback awaiting all the faceless exhibitionists lurking on the internet. Consider his monkey spanked.

Daedalus Howell’s spam folder runneth over with dick pics at FMRL.com, the Future Media Research Lab.

Sonoma County Library