Sexting, stripping and self-respect

It could be that I’m miserably out-of-touch, as certainly some of my children might say, but when boys stand and cheer when girls walk in the room because their shorts are basically underwear, then those girls need to realize that those boys are looking at them not as people but as things. Slut-things in particular. Story about this over at Ann Arbor News, with this trenchant graf:

“These were really short shorts, so short the boys stood up and cheered when the girls all walked into class,” said Liz Margolis, the school district spokeswoman.
This depressing news (why do girls think this is good???) follows on the heels of semi-old news (in terms of the 24-hour news cycle) that one in five teens have participated in “sexting” which, for folks who’ve been living in a cave, is when the 13-20 y/o set (girls primarily) take a cell phone pix of themselves in various states of nekkidness.

The practice got lots of media coverage recently when some state legislatures proposed charging these teens as “child pornographers” instead of just realizing they were suffering from an extra beating with the Stupid Stick. It also got some coverage when Jessica Logan killed herself after her boyfriend – who had requested and received a sexted naked photo of Jessica – shared Jessica’s body with about 100 close friends, resulting in Jessica being tormented and shunned to the point of taking her own life.

That should be lesson one for girls: A boy who asks for a bare-buff photo of you? Probably can’t be trusted. Lesson number two? The Internet is forever, and chances that your private photo of bareness eventually winds up there are pretty good.

Ellen Goodman has a great piece saying sexting shouldn’t be criminalized but that girls really need better education about boys and trust. Because, natch, it is almost always boys asking girls for the photos and the girls (dumb, dumb, dumb), thinking the boy actually gives a damn about her as a person rather than just her as a mode of gratification, send the photos. Sexting isn’t so much about pornography as it is about harassment and bullying. You know, the modern-day version of the car backseat negotiation that starts with: “If you loved me you would….”

Somewhere along the line (thank you Sex and the City, Brittney Spears, MTV and BET Media) girls and young women have come to see stripping as powerful, initiating casual sexual encounters as “being in control,” and providing themselves as grind-poles on dance floors as attractive. (If you click on that link, look at the expression on the man’s face. Does it say “I love you?” I didn’t think so. And the woman — famous? —- looks clueless that she’s being used as a sex toy. Self-respect? Not self-evident.)

We have to somehow help girls and young women understand that true power is in their brains, not their bodies, and that true love is private, intimate and shows itself behind closed doors, not on the dance floor or the iPhone.

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2 comments

  1. Unfortunately, I have heard of it. To me, it is more about the girls’ deep desire to be/feel loved. Yes, the stupid stick comes into it, but the need to be loved and noticed overpowers everything. There is no thought of long-term consequences, in part because that area of the brain does not fully develop until 25. Scary stuff, and another example of how technology is way ahead of our ability to tame it properly.

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