My new article, “Sexting as media production: Rethinking social media and sexuality” is online now at New Media & Society.
Contact me for a pdf if you’re interested but can’t get past the paywall.
The short answer is: Stop seeing them as monsters. An in-depth piece from Slate makes two really important points about child sexual abuse:
(1) “People are notoriously unable to recognize child molesters because people they respect simply don’t fulfill the image they have of ‘monsters’ or ‘predators.'”
(2) There is nowhere for people who are attracted to children to get help: “Contemporary attitudes toward pedophilia [are like] old attitudes about alcoholism, before it was understood as a disease that can be managed with proper support.”
It’s interesting that one other way of preventing sexual assault is absent from this article: that it’s about power more than sex, so we need to change the social structures of power that support sex crime.
No doubt different sex offenders have different motivations and sexual desires, and the research does indicate that many minor-attracted people struggle with their inappropriate desires and spend their lives trying not to act on them. It is well worth supporting those who fit that description, and besides, compared to accomplishing broad structural change, educating the health profession about this and establishing prevention programs for potential offenders seems pretty easy.
On September 25, I’ll be part of a panel on sexting at Carleton University. Here are the details:
Teenage Sexting: Digital Cultures, Digital Economies & Crime Control
September 25, 2012 3:00 – 5:00 pm, Room 2228 River Building, Carleton University
Jessica Ringrose, Institute of Education, University of London — “Ratings and Hating: Sexting, Digital Sexual Cultures and Risk”
Amy Adele Hasinoff, Art History & Communications Studies, McGill University — “Sexting and the Digital Economy: Gender and the Value of Privacy and Consent”
Lara Karaian, Institute of Criminology & Criminal Justice, Carleton University — “Slut-shaming, ‘Self-exploitation’ and Whiteness in Canadian Extra/Legal Response to Sexting”
Here is what I plan to talk about in my presentation:
In 1999, a technology CEO stated: “You have zero privacy. Get over it.” Is it true that privacy is impossible online? By socializing on the internet and on mobile devices, users deliberately and inadvertently generate personal artifacts and data that can be persistent, easily replicable, and even searchable. The often invisible collecting, packaging, and re-selling of this personal information is increasingly important to the digital economy. In this paper I investigate gendered constructions of consent and privacy by examining the discussions about sexting in media, law, and policy discourses. I argue that the assertion that there is no such thing as online privacy serves specific corporate interests and disproportionately impacts marginalized people. I offer an alternative model of social media that prioritizes consent and points to new ways of thinking about the ownership, distribution, and privacy of personal media content.
Huffington Post reports that Joanne Hughes, the original spokesperson against the sexting statue, has joined with the local American Family director Phillip Cosby to collect almost 5,000 signatures calling for its removal. In Kansas, a petition signed by 2 percent of the county’s population is enough to initiate a grand jury investigation of any issue.
The article explains that these types of investigations are a common tactic for Cosby:
Regardless of whether the grand jury investigations eventually result in criminal charges, they have functioned as successful deterrents. Some businesses voluntarily stopped selling porn and sex toys after being targeted by Cosby.
Cosby tells the reporter that sexting is “the most under-prosecuted crime in America.” Is he really saying that consensual adult sexting is a dangerous crime that is not being prosecuted enough? Given his history of attacks on so-called obscenity, he very well might be.