A couple of years ago I received a picture message from an unknown number. The photo, taken in a bathroom mirror, was of a muscular, tanned male torso. The face was not in frame, but the taker of the self-portrait had decided to add to the overall effect by tucking one hand down his pants, in what he presumably thought was a suggestive manner.
Since I definitely didn't recognise either the bathroom or the body, I assumed it was a wrong number and that was that. Now I wonder if perhaps I should have investigated a little. I mean, I'm sure it wasn't Ashley Cole, but who knows which Premiership footballer or celeb with a proclivity for illicit texting the body might have belonged to? I could have bagged a few quid with that photographic leverage.
In any event, I got some interesting new wallpaper for my mobile screen and the anonymous poseur generated much hilarity among the female friends I showed him to. An identical reaction, in fact, to that of the women with whom I've discussed Mr Cole's alleged efforts at erotic imagery. "He looks like he's wearing a big nappy!" guffawed one while looking at the picture in question in The Sun, clearly more struck by the unappealing white underwear than the rippling abs. "I can't decide if it would be better or worse if you could see the face," mused another.
Regardless of the veracity of this particular scandal, the addition of the photos, supposedly sent by a man to a woman with the obvious intention of driving her wild with desire, is intriguing. Salacious texts, phone sex – these were freely admitted to among my female friends, but all agreed that nude pics would leave them cold. Despite the perfect physique in the Sun photo, it's about as titillating as when EastEnders actor Leslie Grantham got up close and personal with a female chatroom user (and reporter for the News of the World – oops) via a webcam.
I'd like to think that there was something vaguely egalitarian in men striking a pose for the camera in the same way that some women, with the encouragement of magazines and sex manuals, emulate Page 3 stunners in snaps for their partners.
But since few men can still be oblivious to the fact that arousal is generally accepted to be a far less visual matter for women than for men, I can only put it down to a, thankfully rare, "If it works for me, it'll work for her" attitude borne of self-absorption. And whatever your gender, there is nothing less sexy than that.