Feminism | Posted by Emily V on 06/25/2010

Self Respect and Sexting

you have a phone...use it to CALL YOUR SENATOR not to take naked pictures!

you have a phone...use it to CALL YOUR SENATOR not to take naked pictures!

Self Respect is a dying art. This thought was solidified when I heard the latest gossip in my school of the sex video going around of a fellow female student with two other guys. As we see a rise in “sexting” and the CDC saying that one in four teenage girls has an STD, I can’t help but feel depressed and frustrated . So how did we get this way and better yet how are we to combat this issue?

At my highschool, I have sat through the numerous internet safety lectures. ” Once it’s out there you can never get it back.” This doesn’t seem to stop many girls from taking pictures of themselves topless or lying spread eagle while their boyfriend snaps pictures. I don’t mean to insult the numerous organizations and police departments who send speakers to scare us straight but it simply isn’t working. If a girl is in “love” and they are going to be together “forever” I doubt she is thinking of the consequences it will have on her future. So if scaring us straight doesn’t work what will?

How about teaching girl to have a little self respect? In today’s society many girls are left with the thought lust equals love, and how do we expect them not to think that way? When we look at the role models for today’s females it is scary. We don’t see the good girls in the spotlight, being praised for their morals, we see the party girls. Party girls who are popular, who are depicted as beautiful and desirable.They are wanted. Is it any wonder we want to be like that? Who doesn’t want to feel beautiful and accepted? Too many girls think that lust equals love; that by making themselves desirable sexually someone will come along and treat them with the love they crave and they will be happy. Unfortunately, they fail to see that when they objectify themselves, that is exactly what they are becoming- objects. Most of the guys who are looking at these pictures don’t care about who you are , only what you can give. Girls are putting themselves out to be blow up dolls and no one seems to notice a problem here?

How about instead of telling girls that colleges will see these pictures, that they could go to jail, let’s tell them how wonderful they are. How they are worth more than just a one night stand or a picture for some guy to masturbate to. Girls need to see that they are beautiful and complete within themselves and they don’t need to be sold off as anything less than that. Instead of calling them stupid sluts lets tell them how beautiful and valuable they are. Let’s combat this issue of self esteem that is making girls feel like they have nothing to give but their bodies. Let’s raise the bar for relationships and raise the bar for ourselves. We are beautiful woman and should be treated accordingly.

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  • Steph B @ at 1:21 pm, June 25th, 2010

    Well, I agree with you about the dangers of sexting – once something’s out there, it really does never go away. That said, I think that the way to do something about it isn’t even MORE slut-shaming. You’re saying that girls who sext don’t have self-respect – in the face of all the pressure from society or boyfriends or whatever else, I think that’s a little unfair. The CDC’s figures and the prevalence of sexting seem to say that the way to do something isn’t more self-respect (although that’d be awesome!), but maybe more education. When you have two seminars a year where you’re told about the dangers of sexting, and then the rest of the year is full of the societal bullshit that says it’s a way to show how much you love someone, society’s gonna win. When you have abstinence-only sex ed, the pressure’s going to win.

    I think that you hit the nail on the head when you say that the big thing is to be wanted. We need to move away from a world where you need to send your bf a topless pic to ‘prove you love him’, and towards one where girls are treated with respect, no matter what.

    So, the same goal as what you’re talking about, but just a slightly different way of getting there.

  • Sarah @ at 3:43 pm, June 25th, 2010

    I fully agree with Steph – more slut shaming and calling out young women exercising active sexuality as “party girls” DOES NOT HELP. I find this post has nothing constructive to say.

    Please stop judging your fellow women… taking sexy photos of yourself (or allowing someone else to do so) does not mean you have “no morals”.

  • Zoe Y. @ at 4:15 pm, June 25th, 2010

    I personally don’t think sexting is as dangerous and as evil as it is being made out to be. I do it with a boy I’ve been seeing for a few months and he sends them to me as well. To me, it’s a matter of trusting the other person, my own sexual pleasure of sending and receiving these texts, and just being smart about who you send them to. Girls shouldn’t allow themselves to feel pressured into doing it if they don’t want to and they shouldn’t feel like a terrible person for enjoying it if they do.

    And, of course, we should absolutely make sure that girls don’t judge their value in the first place based upon the opinions of guys.

  • Chocolate Tort @ at 4:38 pm, June 25th, 2010

    I agree that the focus of efforts to stop sexting – which is not an inherent evil but a pretty dangerous venture in our misogynist society, as gleeful news articles demonstrate – should not focus on scaring girls about possible jail time (which strikes me as deeply wrong) or on slut-shaming them. This post raises some great points – that girls should respect and be proud of themselves for themselves, not for their sex appeal – but I agree with other commenters that it comes a little too close to slut-shaming in some places.

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  • Giorgia @ at 4:58 pm, June 25th, 2010

    Just because you take naked photos of yourself or sext, doesn’t mean you have no self respect or have no confidence.

    How about we teach guys that if you partake in sexting, its not okay to spread the messages/photos.

    If we took the ‘taboo’ or ‘shame’ elements out of sexting then no one would pass it around, because no one would care. I highly doubt it would be this big thing that people get their panties in a twist about.

    I agree with the previous comments, there is definitely some degree of slut shaming here.

  • Suzie @ at 7:28 pm, June 25th, 2010

    I don’t want to be treated as a “beautiful woman,” like the conclusion of your post suggests. I want to be treated like an equal!

  • Dubsie @ at 9:39 pm, June 25th, 2010

    My little sister is at that age where boundaries with boys are getting blurry. So I tell it to her like straight: Your body is worth seeing for real. You are better than some grainy cell phone picture.

  • Katherine C. @ at 9:50 pm, June 26th, 2010

    @Dubsie: I like your way of putting it!

  • Katherine C. @ at 12:17 pm, June 27th, 2010

    Also, to everybody who says that Emily V. is slut-shaming: I think her whole point is that a more effective way to stop sexting (which she views as irrevocably negative) is to NOT slut-shame. (I do agree with Suzie, though!)

  • Dee Dee Sorg @ at 8:31 pm, June 27th, 2010

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    It’s easy to sign up. Just go to http://bit.ly/KPATest and write in the comment box that you are signing up for the testing program. To be considered, you must provide the age of your teen and the make and model of their phone. In the first round of testing, KidPhone Advocate is looking for parents with teenage drivers so they can test all three products.
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  • Alice Bee Toklas @ at 10:02 pm, June 27th, 2010

    Someone passed around a video that was meant to be private. Why is that the girl’s fault? If she was turned on by the idea of being filmed or making a sex tape she shouldn’t be punished for that. So feminists can’t have fetishes? Feminism is about liberating women, liberating consciousnesses.

    Obviously high school boys have problems reconciling their transitions into a cultural definition of manhood with respect for women. Because the two things don’t go together.

    And yeah, using your phone to call your senator is great advice. But it doesn’t have to mean that you can’t also use your phone to take sexy photos. Give us a little more credit here! We can be sexual and politically active at the same time.

  • Anonymous @ at 5:39 pm, July 1st, 2010

    When I was 13 I started doing sexual things with a boy I really liked who was a few years older. Later, I felt really awful and sick to my stomach whenever I thought about it, but I never said anything about stopping. Eventually the relationship ended on its own.

    When I thought about why I continued to do it, I realized it was because I thought it would make him fall in love with me forever. That was the way Cosmo always described it: “The move that will make him your love slave!” “The touch that will leave him begging you for more!” I did it because I loved the feeling of power it gave me, not because I enjoyed the physical sensations or the idea of being intimate with him. At the time, though, I equated that thrilling feeling of power with feeling ‘sexy’ and liking it for its own sake.

    What I didn’t really get at the time was that even if you made a guy feel good that way, the thrall doesn’t last forever. It’s hard when your partner is the one who breaks things off, and it’s even more devastating when you did things you weren’t really comfortable with, specifically to make him ‘fall under your spell.’ But I think it’s really challenging these days, as a woman, to determine what I’m doing because I actually want to do it, and what I’m doing because I feel this unspoken cultural pressure to do it, because only when I behave in certain ways will I be regarded as feminine and lovable.

    I pretty much agree with the author of this piece, whole-heartedly. I would only suggest that we include boys in this “respect for self and others” training, and also that we maybe focus less on the ‘beautiful’ thing. It’s so often conflated with desirability and the male gaze.

  • maggie @ at 6:41 pm, July 1st, 2010

    Take photos of yourself if you enjoy it. Keep your face or any other identifiable bits out.

    It works for me (and has for nearly a decade, since I was a teen).

  • Sammie @ at 6:12 pm, July 15th, 2010

    Giorgia brings up the best point – share away, but don’t let your bf forward all the stuff! I’m actually interning for a company that just released something that deals with this.

    It’s video-based, so doesn’t help with pics, but it makes it so your bf can’t forward the videos and you can remove his access to the video at anytime – so if you breakup, they don’t “mysteriously” end up everywhere!

    I’m digging it, but then again, I’m working on it :)

    (it’s vidme dot com)

  • Alex M @ at 4:07 pm, July 25th, 2010

    I’m a boy, and I reject the girls that try this on with me. I would rather see what someone’s inner motives are, and what someone’s thoughts are, instead of what her private areas look like. I think us, as boys, need to reject the girls that do that, respect women, and help them realise that if she sttod up for herself, left the train boarding for prostitution, and was respected by men, then they may be able to change, and so might society. I think the police in the US should follow what the police in the uk ae doing, instantly scanning any pictures for skin tones, if it triggers an alarm, check it, and then reporting them to the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Oline Protection Centre). Therefore, they will be caught, and hopefully other girls will hear of this shock story, and pull themselfs together.

    I’m 13, and I’m at a Secondary School where an 11-year old exchanged sexual pictures with a 12-year old, and the phone had already been confiscated due to the fact that the head of year had the phones, on the suspicions that the phone was used for cyber-bullying. The boy sent the picture message from the school toilets, he was traced and expelled.

    So women, if you are reading this: I don’t like sluts, I don’t stand up for sluts, and most importantly, I’m a decent person, and most decent people would reject sluts.

  • SarahC @ at 6:45 pm, July 29th, 2010

    Alex, you need to be reasonable. First off, what you suggest is not only a gross violation of privacy, but entirely impractical. All ethical issues aside, sending every picture with flesh-tones to be examined by a real person would involve a LOT of innocent pictures. As to privacy violation, what about pictures sent from hospitals with other patients in the background? What about consenting adults send each other explicit materials? You can’t expect some big brother figure to decide what is and isn’t acceptable.

    Furthermore, your bias against sluts is ridiculous. People have the right to be whatever they wish, up until it infringes on someone else’s rights. Don’t like sluts? Don’t hang out with them. But you still have an ethical obligation to defend their right to do as they please.

    And by comparing girls who sext to prostitutes, you are making a comparison that is so utterly inaccurate as to be laughable. In this day and age, the vast majority of prostitutes are victims of human trafficing, not eager law-breakers. They tend to come from broken homes or developing nations, and come either for the promised acceptance of the pimp or promises of money for their families. These women like short, brutal, miserable lives, surrounded by drug use and violence from all sides. Even if they do manage to break free, society at large is as likely to treat them as law-breaking trash as unfortunate victims.

    In contrast, girls who sext make a brief conscious decision. They are not tricked into sexting, and most of them move on without having their lives ruined.

    If you’re saying sexting leads to prostitution, you’re just being ridiculous. sexting alone leads to sexting. Sexting, in combination with well-meaning but incompetent oversight (which is the oversight of people who grew up without digital technology), ruins girls’ lives.

    Finally, your assertion that most decent people would reject sluts is based on several faulty principles. First, your own judgement that you are a decent person. Let’s be honest, most people believe that they are decent individuals. Secondly, you use one example to postulate for a group. Herein lies the crux of your fallacy: I am a decent person. I do not steal, lie, or cheat. I volunteer in my community. I was accepted to the National Honor Society but turned it down because I couldn’t ethically accept membership in a group I was unable to make the time commitments to participate in. I also accept and defend sluts. By your postulation, we have a paradox. most decent people would reject sluts, but I can issue the equally valid postulation that most decent people would accept them.

    I’ll grant you some leeway for being 13. I held some rather bizarre notions when I was that age. I didn’t like sluts, I thought I wanted to fit in, and I believed school was the most important thing I could do. I’m eighteen now. I’m headed to Cornell University in the fall, I’m in-your-face unique, and some of my best friends are sluts.

  • forbid @ at 10:54 pm, August 20th, 2010

    This is my personal opinion – anythng you do in private that you will not be able to do in public, should be discouraged. It is for your own protection and to avoid future regrets and disappointments. Why allow yourself to be at the mercy of others, take the wheel and be the driver of your body, be in control, respect your body young women, and be respected. It goes a long way,you will reap whatever you sow, you sow self respect, you will reap self respect.
    Don’t waste your precious time sexting, be realistic … those people who are sexting long for attention and true love, so get out there and find true love instead of wasting your precious time sexting.
    Society today unfortunately has endorsed twisted or perverted ideas and accept it as a way of life … as the accepted norm. That is creating unnnecessary problems for ourselves. I find this as a sign of weakness … to accept that sexting is the normal thing to do, it is not normal, it is a waste of time, it is a temporary solution for the weak and creating weak & perverted characters. We need to be people who do the right thing, self control is a character of human beings, no self control is for animals. Do the right thing young women, respect your body,save it for your husband and live a life free of guilt and stress. Sexting is a waste of time and energy, it is superficial and wrong – don’t sell yourself short, if you want love, it is there you just need to find it. Sexting is selling yoursef short of your destiny …

  • Natasha @ at 7:00 pm, September 2nd, 2010

    Thank you so much for bringing this topic up! My school had an assembly on sexting and only said that it was child porn and colleges and grandparents would see it. Thank you for pointing out the motivation behind girls doing this. Some guys will tell a girl she’s pretty to get photos like this, and she feels validated. We need to give girls healthier ways to go about relationships.

  • Kathy Smith @ at 11:01 pm, April 15th, 2011

    Start respecting your bodies and stop posing for pictures, etc.! Don’t give it up so easily to just any man. Start dressing with a more modest style and show people that you want to be taken seriously. Men degrade us enough already, they hurt us and many innocent kids and woman are hurt and abused, etc. Stop giving these pervs ideas for their sick pleasures! Please! Or at least stop making it worst for the rest of us! Thank you!

  • Matt SS @ at 2:38 am, June 16th, 2011

    lots of slut shamers here i see. and plenty of prudes and what not judging people for something they have no business disparaging them for.
    for the person who thinks they can make it impossible to forward a sex video, i think you are quite ignorant about technology. i can think of a dozen ways past whatever you are gonna do and im not particularly code savvy. if you put it out there, its out there. you are not going to somehow control it.
    if you want to disconnect sex from love, you need to ban disney really. showing little girls disney isnt empowering as many claim. its presents incredibly false ideas about relationships. the reality is move people go through at least a dozen relationships in their life, which may or may not involve sex. if there is something you would only do with someone you would be with forever, particularly as a teenager, dont do it. because that doesnt happen. im not saying being sexual is bad, im saying if you arent comfortable doing it with someone you will only be with for a few months or a year, doing it in your early relationships is going to get you burned.

  • Annette @ at 11:43 am, August 6th, 2012

    If you take sex off the table in a new relationship, you certainly find out who is really interested in YOU. Try it some time. You might find it quite refreshing. Being sexual IS bad – for your self respect, your mind, your soul. How many teens have found “true love” by being sexual with someone? There is absolutely nothing wrong with waiting until you are married to have sex. Find someone who truly loves you and use sex for what it was meant for – to build true intimacy.

  • Laura @ at 3:01 pm, October 31st, 2012

    *Vomits* on those postulating “waiting on sex leads to love”. Who the hell is looking for “love” as a teenager? Girls have crushes and get horny (yes, just like boys) and boys have boners and get crushes (like girls). When will males start getting screened for VDs hmmmm? And get socially reprimanded for harassing and demoralizing women?

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