‘Sexting’ is typically referred to as sending a nude photo through a phone. There is nothing new about sharing a nude photo with a beloved. You just used to have to go to a seedy photography shop to get your film developed, or use a Polaroid and hand it over. The chances of lots of people seeing the photo were low. Remember needing to spring for double prints? Now, within seconds, thousands of people can see your nude photo depending on which app or website it gets uploaded to. Stats on the prevalence of sexting among teens are unclear, because studies range between 9%-60% (1, 2) of teens reporting that they have ever shared a nude image of themselves. So it’s difficult to tell how common sexting actually is. In order for us to address sexting in a realistic way with teens, we must first understand the sexual culture they live in that normalizes sexting.
(1) Mitchell, K. J., Jones, L., Finkelhor, D., & Wolak, J. (2014b). Youth involvement in sexting: Findings from the youth internet safety studies. Crimes Against Children Research Center, 1-11.
(2) Crimmins, D. M., & Seigfried-Spellar, K. C. (2014). Peer attachment, sexual experiences, and risky online behaviors as predictors of sexting behaviors among undergraduate students. Computers in Human Behavior, 32, 268-275.
(3) Walrave, M., Ponnet, K., Van Ouytsel, J., Van Gool, E., Heirman, W., & Verbeek, A. (2015). Whether or not to engage in sexting: Explaining adolescent sexting behaviour by applying the prototype willingness model. Telematics and Informatics, (April). doi:10.1016/j.tele.2015.03.008
(4) Vanden Abeele, M., Campbell, S. W., Eggermont, S., & Roe, K. (2014). Sexting, Mobile Porn Use, and Peer Group Dynamics: Boys’ and Girls' Self-Perceived Popularity, Need for Popularity, and Perceived Peer Pressure. Media Psychology, 17(1), 6–33. doi:10.1080/15213269.2013.801725.
(5) Ringrose, J., Harvey, L., Gill, R., & Livingstone, S. (2013). Teen girls, sexual double standards and ‘sexting’: Gendered value in digital image exchange. Feminist Theory, 14, 305-323.
(6) Milhausen, R. R., & Herold, E. S. (1999). Does the sexual double standard still exist? Perceptions of university women. Journal of Sex Research, 36, 361-368.
(7) Calogero, R. M., & Thompson, J. K. (2009). Sexual self-esteem in American and British college women: Relations with self-objectification and eating problems. Sex Roles, 60, 160-173.
(8) Grabe, S., & Hyde, J. S. (2009). Body objectification, MTV, and psychological outcomes among female Adolescents1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39, 2840-2858.
(9) Schick, V. R., Calabrese, S. K., Rima, B. N., & Zucker, A. N. (2010). Genital appearance dissatisfaction: Implications for women’s genital image self-consciousness, sexual esteem, sexual satisfaction, and sexual risk. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 34, 394-404.
(10) Muehlenkamp, J. J., & Saris–Baglama, R. N. (2002). Self–objectification and its psychological outcomes for college women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 26, 371-379.
(11) Tolman, D. L. (2005). Dilemmas of desire: Teenage girls talk about sexuality. Harvard: University Press. American Psychological Association, T. F. O. T. S. O. G. (2007). Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. APA Talk Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
(12) Sabina, C., Wolak, J., & Finkelhor, D. (2008). The nature and dynamics of Internet pornography exposure for youth CyberPsychology & Behavior, 11(6), 691-693.
(13) Albury, K. (2014). Porn and sex education, porn as sex education. Porn Studies, 1, 172-181.
Photo Source: Dollar Photo Club
Do you know what your kids are doing online? Have no fear! Keeping your kids safe online is a lot harder than you think. That’s right. It’s not easy. There is a lot to consider. Should you let them pave their own way? Eventually. Does monitoring replace parenting? No. Is your kid going to try to disable any software you install? Yes. But it’s still your responsibility to not only keep your kids safe online, but to teach them how to keep themselves safe when they’ve shown they can handle the responsibility of having 24-hour access to the web. Here are 8 steps to get you started:
Photo Source: Dollar Photo Club
Talking about ‘the birds and the bees’ with your kids has never been easy for any generation, but it has also never been as important to do as it is today. If you don’t talk about ‘the birds and the bees’ with your kids, the internet will. In the internet version, the birds and the bees have an orgy and they record it. Then one of the birds posts the video on an inter-species revenge porn site and as a result, one of the bees can’t get into the college of her choice. In other words, your kids are learning about sex whether or not they get comprehensive sexuality education at school, whether or not their friends are abstinent or sexually active, and whether or not you have had ‘the talk’. So what’s a parent to do? Well, for starters you can attend my Straight Talk Parent Series workshop (Adolescents, Sex, and Porn: Everything You Wish You Didn’t Need to Know) on January 21st from 7-9pm in the library at Mount Nittany Middle School. You will learn about today’s sexual youth culture as well as equip yourself with the tools to ignite an ongoing discussion about sexuality with your kids. Here is what we will be up to:
This may seem like a daunting task, but with new knowledge and a little bit of practice, you will be able to connect with your children and help them develop into sexually competent people. In honor of this workshop, I’ll be dedicating the next several posts to discussion of tips for parents to talk with their kids about sexuality and pornography. I hope to see you on January 21st!
Photo Source: Dollar Photo Club
Some excellent progress has been made to put an end to revenge porn this week. Revenge porn is essentially an image or video of someone who is nude or engaging in sexual activity, that is posted on the internet without the consent of the person in the image or video. Last month, Erica Goode at the New York Times wrote about the experiences of female victims with ex-partners who decided to get "revenge" on them by posting private nude images online. Now, there will be a criminal penalty for anyone in California who is convicted of posting sexual images of someone online without their consent, thanks to the Anti-Revenge Porn Bill that was signed into action on Tuesday, October 1, 2013. Before this law, if someone wanted to pursue legal action toward someone who posted images without their consent, they had to go through costly civil court proceedings to sue for defamation of character and/or privacy infringement.
Revenge porn is not a new problem. In fact, it used to be confused with amateur porn. When today’s top 5 porn sites first started-up they were primarily comprised of revenge porn. These sites (which I will purposely not name) are designed like YouTube, where users can post videos and images of women who are nude or having sex in order to provide free content to other users. Thus, most porn users who only go to these popular sites think they aren’t supporting the porn industry because they “aren’t paying for porn” and “they are looking at real women”. However, it is hard to classify that type of porn use as righteous with video and image captions like, “Watch me *#%K my ex!” or “Check out this chick *#%ked. I don’t even know her name!” Until recently, no one knew what to call this type of porn and thus it defaulted to ‘amateur porn’. Today there is also content from older pornographic films and international pornographic films on these sites in order to avoid copyright issues, but revenge porn still dominates the content.
Unfortunately, the new bill doesn't solve all problems associated with revenge porn, but it is a great start. The law only makes some forms of revenge porn a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine because it only applies to photos taken by others that were posted with an intent to cause serious distress. The bill does not address nude selfies, which can be given to a partner with the intent of private use only. In 2010, an article in the Iowa Law Review explained the role the state could play in protecting youth from the unanticipated, reputational and psychological consequences of sending nude pictures to a romantic partner via “sexting” (1). This bill does little to address sexting among minors, which is still legally considered “self-produced child pornography” (2), despite its growing popularity with 20-30% of teens having sent naked pictures of themselves (3).
If a woman takes a nude selfie, it doesn’t mean that she intends to make that image public. Just as we recognize that two people having had consensual sex doesn't mean later encounters are necessarily consensual, we should recognize that a picture offered as a consensual sexual gesture can later be turned into a tool to harass and abuse. Even though it is certainly more the case that girls and women are the ones in the photos and boys and men are the distributers, I teach young women not to share or distribute nude pictures and I also teach young men not to share or distribute nude pictures. I definitely think it is natural to want to share nude images with someone you trust. Sadly, sharing nude photos and videos without detrimental consequences was a luxury that was afforded to those living before a digital age, when it cost money to get “double-prints” instead of “single-prints” and you had to go to the trouble of getting your nude images developed by someone other than the person down at the local Rite-Aid. The limit in quantity potential for nude pictures before the digital age made the possibility of your entire school, company or organization seeing those photos, slim to none. The motivation today is also less internally-driven and more externally-driven by an effort to emulate sexual imagery in the media in order to compete with other women in our “pornified culture” (4). Many of the women and girls I talk with also think that providing naked images of themselves to a boyfriend will ensure that he won’t masturbate to porn, but that rarely works because pornography isn’t about nudity it is about novelty.
Even though revenge porn website enthusiasts swear their motivation is nothing but an opportunity 'to look at real naked women' in reality, the act of uploading a nude picture to punish a woman for leaving you is less of an act of sexual expression and more similar to the criminal behavior of stalking and harassment (5). It is clear that non-consensual distribution of sexual imagery and videos is intended to humiliate the victim. With that in mind, we should amend stalking and harassment legislation to reflect our new cyber-reality. Just because the abusive acts are happening in cyberspace doesn't mean the experience of being humiliated and harassed by an ex is any less terrifying. So, what can you do to help? Please sign this petition and read more about what else you can do to criminalize revenge porn in your state.
1. Ryan, E. M. (2010). Sexting: How the state can prevent a moment of indiscretion from leading to a lifetime of unintended consequences for minors and young adults. Iowa Law Review, 96, 357.
2. Leary, M. G. (2009). Sexting or Self-Produced Child-Pornography-The Dialog Continues-Structured Prosecutorial Discretion within a Multidisciplinary Response. Journal of Social Policy & Law, 17, 486.
3. Eraker, E. C. (2010). Stemming Sexting: Sensible Legal Approaches to Teenagers' Exchange of Self-Produced Pornography. Berkeley Technology Law Journal, 25, 555.
4. Hall, P. C., West, J. H., & McIntyre, E. (2012). Female self-sexualization in MySpace.com personal profile photographs. Sexuality& Culture, 6(1), 1-16.
5. Davis, K. E., Ace, A., & Andra, M. (2000). Stalking perpetrators and psychological maltreatment of partners: Anger-jealousy, attachment insecurity, need for control, and break-up context. Violence and Victims, 15(4), 407-425.
Photo Source: endrevengeporn.org
About this Blog:
I'm here to help us discuss sexuality, gender, sexual media, and social media by integrating information from academic and mainstream sources. I do this so you can be informed about what is going on in the sex research world and apply the research to your life. I hope this process produces more sexually competent people who raise sexually competent kids.
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