Chapter 3 - Situations Subchapter: Sexting

Why sext?

Sexting is sexy messaging – texts, images, videos.

 

A smartphone text conversation: wyd? in bed. wbu? [eggplant emoji]. haha. wanna see?

 

Some people may sext for lots of different reasons - to express themselves, boost self-confidence, increase sexual rapport, and to initiate, develop and manage relationships.

For many, sexting is an important part of an intimate relationship.

 

An illustration of a couple sexting. Both have phones; one sends, and one receives. A popup above them of a new message with blurred out body parts.

 

Is everybody doing it?

No, not everybody is sexting. Rates of sexting reported in Australian research varies greatly – one study reports only 5% of students having sent a sext, up to nearly 50% of Australian students in another study.  

Should you do it?

Intimate messages, pics, videos that you send are personal and possibly revealing. Whether or not you send a nude must be a decision you make for yourself while understanding the risks and benefits, and without pressure, bullying or harassment from others.

 

Your digital identity

Who you are in your home or your school, your work or hobbies, your tastes in music and movies and books and games, all of these things are key parts of your identity.

 

A character looking gangsta with a gold chain, phone, sunnies and a sideways hat.

 

Your identity = all of the things that make you you.

Your digital identity = everything about you online.

For many people, the image we portray online about who we are as a person – our likes, activities, who we hang out with, where we visit – can be different to our offline identity.

And that’s ok, sometimes it’s even a great thing.

The chance to alter our real-world identities and create a new online persona can be a way to meet others who share common interests, or as an escape from feeling unlikeable or misunderstood. As long as you’re not hurting anyone and behave respectfully, crafting a digital identity should be a safe and exciting opportunity for personal development.

It’s in The Cloud

All your online activity is stored somewhere and anyone that wants to know about you can find this information, your social media posts and images and likes and shares, if the person is determined.

A determined person could be a stalker, someone with an obsession, or someone who wants to cause harm by using your intimate images or videos to shame, harass, bully or blackmail you.

All the hard work put into developing a digital identity that reflects the new, work-in-progress you, could be damaged by an accidentally sent sext, or an image or video shared without consent.

Before sharing intimate images that may have an impact on your digital identity, try and find out:

  • Where the images are stored?
  • Who has access to them?
  • How long are they kept digitally?
  • Can you get them back?

 

Sexting and gender

As an activity, the sending and receiving of sexts and nudes has become the focus of an increasing amount of research. Who sends nudes, who requests nudes, who feels more pressure to send nudes, who suffers from image-based abuse - the numbers can vary, sometimes by a significant amount.

 

Assumption: males are the requesters and females the senders of nude images or videos.
Reality: most studies show males and females send an equivalent number of sexts and nudes.

 

Males and females are equally likely to participate in sexting, but what happens next is where things line up differently based on gender.

  • compared to males, females report feeling more pressure to sext
  • compared to males, females are more likely to be slut-shamed for sexting
  • compared to males, females are more likely to be called frigid for not sexting
  • compared to males, females are subject to more image-based abuse including non-consensual sharing of nudes, coercion to send nudes, revenge porn and blackmail.

 

double standard

noun

  1. a rule or principle which is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups.

 

For some people, sexting may be part of their sexual exploration and identity development.

As a shared activity, it takes two to sext.

When done safely, respectfully and consensually, a person’s gender should have no impact on the activity or the outcome.

As a society we’ve agreed that any discrimination based on gender is unlawful.

We are all entitled to be treated fairly, equally and respectfully in all aspects of our intimate relationships.