Sexist Beatdown: “Sexting” Edition
Oversize foam cell phone lures underage phone users into illicit world of fwded nudity
Parents! Do you know what felonies your tweens could be committing with their very own cellular telephones, and what stupid name the you will coin in order to facillitate freaking out to the newsmedia? Hint: the felony is "child pornography," and the stupid name you have chosen is "sexting."
Before, your children were simply sending naked photographs of themselves to each other in pursuit of eagerly snatching at adulthood. Now, they may be listed as sex offenders well into their adult lives. Good job, team!
Allow Sady of Tiger Beatdown and myself, of The Sexist, to take you back to a simpler time, when a child could only be a child pornographer for taking photgraphs of other children, and scoolgirls had to deliver naked photos of themselves to their classmates uphill in the snow both ways. [Bonus! Read Sady's take on sexting here].
SADY: oh, yes. the sexy teens, sending each other sexy messages. is there no way we can stop it? perhaps through ridiculous charges of child pornography!
AMANDA: that ought to do it.
SADY: what strikes me, with this, is the way that so much of the burden of shame – and sometimes actual, legal guilt – rests on the girls who send naked pictures. instead of the dudes who "accidentally" send these naked pictures to every other dude they know!
AMANDA: yeah, it is a weird double standard. first they're told, don't send naked photos of yourself! it is a form of "dating violence" against YOU. then, don't send naked photos of yourself! you are a pornographer, the objectifier!
SADY: hah, yeah. oh the violence of maybe sending a dude a photo of your boob! oh, the slutty pornographer you will be if you do so! it reminds me of the conversations people are having about "hooking up." (did you know the young people are doing this now?) first, girls are told they're being taken advantage of by men, who are of course the only people to actually experience a desire for sex. THEN, they're told that they're making it impossible for any man to ever NOT treat them like crap, by putting out!
AMANDA: i also wonder how much this is condescending to teens, too. is this a "teen" epidemic? don't older people also regrettably send naked photos of themselves to their significant others?
SADY: i have spoken to many adult women who are in the practice of it, yes.
there was an episode of 30 Rock about it, so you know it is a pressing social concern.
AMANDA: the name is really, really dumb. it smacks of Parent. with the aid of Fox 5 at 10.
SADY: I know, right? It's very late-night-local-news, seven-ways-your-dishwasher-can-kill-you. SEX + TEXTING = SEXTING! Great work, Bob!
AMANDA: yeah. the whole thing really is just old news repackaged for a "new generation." teens have always gotten naked in front of each other. teens have always talked about it to other teens. teens have always coerced other teens to do something they're not really ready to do, in some cases. now their parents can just find out a little bit easier.
SADY: yeah, precisely.
AMANDA: they should just make some iphone app and get over it.
SADY: haha, "THIS TEXT MESSAGE HAS BEEN DETERMINED TO CONTAIN NIP SLIP. ACCESS DENIED." i could use that one, actually.
AMANDA: yeah. another point of concern that i have is: my phone is busted and i can't take photos. why do these teens have way sweeter phones than i do?
SADY: it's their darn permissive parents, i say! in my day, we had to use polaroids, or make crude etchings of our privates!
SADY: i think that it's way easier to see the hysteria underlying ANY sex when we look at TEEN sex, because teens are supposed to have bodies specifically under control of their parents. as opposed to everyone else, who is supposed to have a body under the control of DEEP SHAME.
AMANDA: yeah, it takes about 18 years to get that ingrained in you.
AMANDA: this most recent case in spotsylvania though (real name) one of the girls whose photos were spread around is twelve years old. and even i, as a relatively young person hip to the underage sex, have to pause at that one
SADY: yeah, that one gives me pause. and i think that this is a weird thing, because girls, specifically, are under pressure as soon as they hit any region vaguely definable as "puberty" to be sexy. but not SEXUAL. be hot. but DON'T GIVE IT UP. and i wonder what combination of intimate and social pressures were happening to make this girl think she needed or wanted to do this. because one thing you can't do at that age is walk a line that charged without getting confused or fucking up. and now, obviously, she's being punished for it.
AMANDA: lock her up! lock her up! this all makes me very glad i'm not in school anymore. if my naked photos were sent around to people, i can at least know that most of them would not be people i'm forced to sit still with for six hours every day of my life. it would probably just be on some blog or something. whatever.
SADY: i really think that the technology aspect of it is part of what causes the furor. i mean. not that i've never woken up and thought "oh, god, what did i do last night and is it on facebook?" but you're right, the access to a technology which allows you to notify the whole school of your boobal region, combined with the fact that none of these kids is probably even sure of how to handle sexuality ANYWAY, because they receive NINETY-SEVEN CONFLICTING MESSAGES on a daily basis, makes it scary. particularly for the olden-timey folks who are raising them!
AMANDA: i know, i'm sure they are so very confused. it's just how everything is.future employers can google you, future boyfriends can google you, stalkers can google you. things you do stick around longer but they also get buried in so many things that also stick around that i think they can become less important. not that this isn't a shocking and terrible thing for a 12 year old to go through, but i think shocking and terrible things are just changing.
SADY: right? i mean, i recall passing a note to a boy when i was maybe twelve. because i had a crush on him. and i think it contained the phrase "i wish we could make out." also, maybe lyrics to janet jackson's smash hit "if?" I WAS TWELVE. anyway, the moral of the story is that he did not return my affections and consequently read it out loud to the entire school bus. but AT LEAST IT WAS NOT AN E-MAIL, JESUS.
AMANDA: adolescence is tragic, i tell you. at least we weren't prosecuted for it
SADY: yeah. that note has been lost in the sands of time. only the memory does not fade. unlike some of these girls, who are maybe going to be on a register of sex offenders that shows up, ON THE INTERNET, for the rest of their lives! because that will show them.
Photo by KB35