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The blog may be over, but its lessons on how to take nudes will forever live in our DMs.
Tumblr’s NSFW ban has brought so many great blogs to an end, it’s been hard to keep track. But one that will be sorely missed, both for its cultural impact and the safety of our DMs, is Critique My Dick Pic.
After Tumblr announced that it would be banning “adult content” starting Dec. 17—including “photos, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples”—Madeleine Holden, the woman behind CMDP, wrote in a farewell post that the ban would “include the photos of erect penises that are the bread and butter of this account.”
Speaking to the Daily Dot, Holden said that she wasn’t initially surprised by the news of the adult content ban on Tumblr. “Social media platforms are becoming sanitized and puritanical at a rate of knots so my response was like, ‘Ahh, you too, Tumblr,” she said. She described her initial reaction as “just mildly bummed” about the loss of income (she charged $25 for a guaranteed review on the site or a private emailed review), but over time, she became more upset as she considered the scope of the loss in online communities caused by Tumblr’s policy change.
“It took a few days for me to become sadder and angrier, especially as I read the outpourings of grief from users,” said Holden. “So many communities that can’t really exist elsewhere were decimated in one fell swoop, and sex workers, artists, and queer communities seem to have been hit the hardest.”
Though Holden wrote in her farewell post that CMDP was “now over—at least in its current manifestation,” she told the Daily Dot she didn’t have plans for returning to CMDP in the future. “I think the project had a really good run—it ran for five years, which is an eternity in blog years.”
However, the lessons of CMPD live on, both for Holden and for its readers. “I will continue to write and speak about sex and sexual politics,” said Holden, “and I will always be informed by what I learned during the CMDP project.”
Consensual nude sharing outside of romantic relationships is growing, both through people sharing with friends and the increasing number of “thirst traps” and general horniness on social media. Holden says that she doesn’t know if she contributed to that, but her goal was to add to a conversation about how to take dick pics that are worth sharing. “Dick pics could go from being this seedy form of harassment (as they normally are) to high-quality erotica shared with consent and crafted with the recipient’s desire in mind,” said Holden.
Although public nude-sharing is becoming less taboo, Holden says she hasn’t seen anything that occupies quite the same space as her blog did in nude critique. “I have never seen anything quite like CMDP that wasn’t just a direct rip-off of it, in that I never critiqued the bodies themselves,” Holden told the Daily Dot.
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Holden’s dick pic critiques were also unique for their inclusivity, reviewing dick pics not just from cis men, but also from trans women, trans men, genderqueer and agender people, and people of a variety of other gender identities. Holden reviewed flesh and prosthetic penises as equals, both in the scores she gave and the language she used. The reviews addressed the sender directly, always with “you” or “sender,” keeping them both gender-neutral and feedback-focused.
There are many lessons to be learned (and fun to be had) by reading the individual reviews, and Holden told the Daily Dot she intends to archive the blog so people can still read them, although she’s “not sure about the form just yet.”
In the meantime, Holden summarized her best dick-pic-taking advice in a 2018 interview with the Daily Dot: “I always suggest zooming out (i.e., not focusing narrowly on the dick itself), including hands, using natural lighting, having a clutter-free setting, and paying attention to things like tone, angle, and framing.”
Not all nudes are dick pics, but the advice Holden graciously gave the world translates to all nudes. For that, we will be forever thankful.
Alex Dalbey is a writer and zinester currently working out of St. Paul, Minnesota. They have bylines at The Daily Dot, Kill Screen, and Bullet Points. Follow them on Twitter @thedialogtree