Study: Women More Likely Than Men to Send Nudes in Order to Retain Partners’ Romantic, Sexual Interest


Sep 6, 2019


Why do we send nudes? That too, after knowing the digital, personal and social risks associated with the act, should something go wrong? A new study may have answers.

The most common reason is to turn on the recipient of the image, according to a recent University of Arizona study exploring the motivations of people for sexting and sending nude selfies. While that may sound fairly obvious, it is the gender breakdown of the motivations behind sending nudes that is interesting.

Sending explicit images of one’s self to turn on the receiver was roughly the same for women (73%) and men (67%). Additionally, men and women were equally inclined to send a nude when it was requested, with 40% willing to send a photo to an interested party who asked for one.

But this is where the similarities end.

The study, conducted by sociology doctoral student Morgan Johnstonbaugh, found that women were four times more likely to send nudes to people so that the receiving party would not lose interest in them, or look at photos of other people.

Related on The Swaddle:

Study: Men Who Send Unsolicited Dick Pics Score Highly on Narcissism and Sexism

This is a result of a long-standing sexual double-standard, Johnstonbaugh said in a statement, which is “this idea that’s perpetuated in society that men and women have different types of sexuality – that men have uncontrollable, voracious desires, whereas women are capable of making moral decisions and acting as the gatekeepers to sexual activity. With this idea in mind, women may feel pressured to share images with their boyfriends in order to keep them interested or to please their appetite.”

To conduct the study, Johnstonbaugh asked more than 1,000 college students from seven universities to complete an online survey about the last time they chose to send a nude or a semi-nude photo of themselves. The survey consisted of 23 possible reasons why they sent the explicit photo. Johnstonbaugh found two overarching motivations in study participants: external pressure to satisfy a request or retain someone’s attention, and a feeling of empowerment and self-confidence upon sending a nude.

Women were found to be four times more likely than men to send images to feel empowered; they were twice as likely to send them to boost their confidence because “[they] can create a space where [they] feel safe expressing [their] sexuality and exploring [their] body,” said Johnstonbaugh in the statement. Additionally, lesbian and bi women were more likely to share nude or semi-nude images to feel empowered; straight women were found to be more affected by external pressures.

“The fact that women are more likely to feel both empowered and disempowered – that they’re selecting both of these options when thinking about the same event – highlights the fact that women have more to gain from a potentially beneficial interaction, but they also have more to lose,” said Johnstonbaugh.


Written By Pallavi Prasad

Pallavi Prasad is The Swaddle’s Features Editor. When she isn’t fighting for gender justice and being righteous, you can find her dabbling in street and sports photography, reading philosophy, drowning in green tea, and procrastinating on doing the dishes.


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