A super smart person once told me: “Don’t write it if you can say it, and don’t say it if a look is all that’s necessary” (or something like that). Whatever it was, it really characterizes some dimensions of this issue…
So, admittedly, I’ve been on this child porn tangent as of late; and after hearing all about ASACP and the adult film industry’s lack of involvement in the sexual exploitation of minors, I’m pretty sure you guys are sick of hearing about such… sickness. There is, however, at least one more dimension related to this topic that needs to be brought up – child generated porn.
Now for those of you who live under a rock, it seems that our culture has pretty much aged out of phone sex, that tried-and-true remote hook-up classic. Whatsmore, as this paleolithic practice is relegated to romantic comedy film fodder, its slicker hipper cousin -sexting- is coming up as what’s super hot these days.
Now, all this may mean to adults is that it’s a lot easier to “talk” dirty to your lover in LA while you’re in a cab in New York… and maybe give her a little peek of what she’s missing while you’re at it. And all this may mean to teens is that it’s a lot easier to “talk” dirty with your… umm… lover (?!) in Calculus AB while you’re not studying in Spanish 3.
Yeah, rock people, kids with phones can “sext” just as easily as you or I may.
But guess what – looking at sexy-type pictures of people who are under the age of eighteen is highly illegal, even if an under eighteen-year-old provides the image of their own volition and even if you (the viewer or text recipient) are under the age of eighteen yourself. In some states, engaging in what amounts to the production and trafficking of child generated porn is a felony.
Yes, a sixteen-year-old texting a picture of her xxx is technically producing and trafficking child generated porn. Moreover, the recipient (underage or not) of said sext is also culpable… even if they had no part in producing the image or soliciting the message in the first place.
A while back, TO brought this little news story by Alia Beard Rau/AZCentral.com about sexting amongst juveniles and related Arizona law to my attention. Apparently, all/most kids now have cell phones. Texting has replaced speaking, and sexting has replaced writing notes to the hott boy in your English class. Thus, sexting is more about hormonal adolescent crushing-prompted behavior than it is about sex offense or child porn production/trafficking; consequently, it should be handled by parents and/or guardians (not the FBI or Chris Hansen). It seems that some states have already begun taking steps to change existing laws, reducing sexting amongst underage persons to a misdemeanor offense. My dear commenter “Anonymous Coward” also touched on these issues in the context of child generated pornography.
Anyway, my initial reaction to this entire kids sexting thing was “Why the heck do kids have cell phones in the first place?!!,” but I realize that things have changed since the simpler (and apparently arcane) early 90s.
My second reaction has to do with gender – why the heck is it always teenaged girls sending these pics out to god only know who?!! Granted I do not follow news about this specific issue as much as a could, but I have yet to hear about a high school-aged boy sending pictures of his xxx out to another kid in Auto Shop.
(pictured: smiley Miley Cyrus and her iphone)
Part of me wants to chastise “Snap out of it, little ladies!! Boys aren’t smarter than girls and they definitely don’t have more common sense than us… WTF?!,” but the rest of me knows that there are far more complex issues related to gender normativity & inequality and sexuality & heteronormativity at play here.
And my third reaction has a little bit to do with porn…
But first, a teaching anecdote: This past summer, I was talking about changing technology in an Intro Sociology class; and, of course, the topic of sexting came up. One student related an interesting example of two girls from her high school. One girl had… umm… orally pleased a random boy in a school restroom; the other had texted a picture of her lady parts to her crush. According to my summer school student, the pic was circulated throughout the entire high school and presumably beyond.
Both girls exercised serious lapses in judgement (I’m just sayin…), however they experienced very different outcomes. Bathroom BJ’s fifteen minutes of scandalous fame soon passed, but Pussy Pic was thereafter branded a shameless sloppy whore. She eventually had to change schools.
Now it was very difficult for me to maintain my composure throughout this lesson/college classroom conversation. What kind of high school had this kid attended, and where were all the teachers, hall monitors, etc etc when oral sex between adolescents was happening in the restroom?!! Regardless of my horror, the student’s example gets at what I feel is a significant issue shaping the social consequences of sexting (and, relatedly, working as adult film talent) – the permanence of images.
Although both girls were engaging in sex behaviors (which, as we know, is a big no-no for girls a la the age-old sex/gender double standard that exists between women & men and girls & boys) in the example related by my student, they were unequally sanctioned by their peers. Bathroom BJ actually “did” something sex-related with another person, but she was punished less intensely than Pussy Pic – why?
A parallel question may be: why are women who work as adult film talent – women who may, in some instances, only work in five or six scenes annually and have a consistent romantic/sex partner in their private lives (making the amount of partners they have per year far lower than what Samantha Jones and Sex and the City would have us believe is “normal”) – sanctioned so hard for their legal occupational sex behavior?
The answer to both questions may have to do with the common presence of graphic pictorial evidence of sex. If there’s a picture of you doing it, or perhaps just a picture advertising that you want it to be done, that’s apparently far more damaging to one’s reputation than what actually amounts to a mere allegation of sex behavior.
I guess my overall point then is this: regardless of how old you are and regardless of how in to someone you may think you are at the moment, don’t take naked pictures of yourself (ladies)… unless you’re comfortable with the possibility of them becoming a significant dimension of others’ perception of your identity.
Questions? Comments? Email me!
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