Study: When Women Send Flirtatious Texts, it’s ‘Flattering,’ but When Men Do it, it’s ‘Sexual Harassment’

Exchanging racy texts is de rigueur in our phone-heavy dating culture, and it’s appreciated by many long-distance and long-term couples wanting to maintain intimacy and excitement in their relationships. But if you receive them unsolicited, as many women do, they can also be annoying, even distressing.

People sext for a number of reasons, but new research suggests that people perceive sex messages differently depending on whether the sender is a man or a woman. According to the brilliantly named study, ‘Not Cool, Dude: Perceptions of Solicited vs. Unsolicited Sext Messages from Men and Women,’ people are more likely to judge an unsolicited sext from a man as inappropriate than if the same message were sent by a woman.

For the research, conducted by academics from Southwestern University in the US and published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, a group of 122 predominantly white students in the US (61 men and 61 women) were given short descriptions in which either a man or a women sent a solicited or unsolicited sext to someone of the opposite sex. They were then asked their opinions on the situation and sext message.

The verdict? Men who sent unsolicited sexts were judged as less appropriate than women who sent the same message. Given the prevalence of unsolicited dick pics in today’s dating landscape – and the often malicious intent behind them – it’s unsurprising that women have more negative view of unsolicited sexts from men.

The researchers described men sending unsolicited sexts to women as an example of hypermasculinity, or exaggerated stereotypically male behaviour that may be considered sexual harassment and make women feel uncomfortable and/or threatened.

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