The Ups And Downs Of Sexting

by March 27, 2012
filed under Sex & Dating

The Ups and Downs of SextingHeather Morris, Christina Hendricks and Scarlett Johansson: what do these three celebrities have in common? Nude pics. To be specific, alleged nude pics of these actresses were stolen from their cellphones and then released to the press. Yikes.

Yet, celebs aren’t the only ones who are taking nude pics of themselves. More and more young people are using technology as a way of expressing their sexuality. The raciness of the photos runs the gamut from duck face, to topless pics, to strip tease videos.

What was once a trend has solidified as a part of our daily culture. A 2011 MTV/AP study on sexting found that 15% of youth have sent a sext, while 21% have received a sexy picture or video of someone else.

So, is sexting a problem? Well, it can be. When it’s between consenting adults, with no imposed slut shaming, there’s nothing inherently wrong with it. You share some sexy pics and it revs you up for a good time. Simple enough.

The problems come when sexting is:

  1. Shared without the consent of the subject of the picture.
  2. A result of peer pressure, or pressure from romantic partners.

Sharing a sext without consent is simply a more anonymous form of sexual harassment. By sharing these images any trust in a relationship is broken, the privacy of the photographed individual is violated and often the subject of the sext is left humiliated. Worse yet, this form of harassment is easily perpetrated. A bit of button pushing and a sext is quickly forwarded to dozens of recipients. This can encourage further harassment by peers.

Speaking of peers, sexting caused by peer pressure leaves a deep impact on women’s self-esteem. Often, women who are pressured into sexting end up complying out of a hope to have their desirability affirmed. However, any affirmation is short term and linked to their partner’s particular view of what is attractive. In the long term, as a self-esteem booster sexting does more harm than good. Sexting caused by emotional blackmail, such as “if you really love me you’ll sext me” is often the most damaging. First, a woman’s self esteem is undermined by the threat of leaving, then a second time from the guilt of “putting out”, and a third time from the fear of wondering whether or not she will “measure up” to her partner’s expectations. Of course, her self esteem takes a further hit if pictures of her are then texted around as a symbol of her partner’s prowess.

But, you might say you are an independent woman with great self-confidence. You know the risks and want to sext anyways: What’s a lady to do?

Here are some tips for avoiding sexting problems:

  1. Lay some ground rules with your partner. These pics are for their eyes only! Any sharing must be approved by you.
  2. Leave out anything that could be easily linked to you: your face, your eyes, distinctive tattoos or piercings.
  3. Don’t attach your name, or your partner’s name to the text.
  4. Don’t share a sext with your friends. Heed the law of cyber karma and keep it private.

Lastly, for any readers under 18, find another way to sweet talk your partner. For distributing nude photos of those under the age of consent, you can be tried for child pornography. There is nothing sexy about that.

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