Sexting illustrations and an interview in the Westword

Here’s an interview that appeared online and in print in Denver’s alt weekly magazine, the Westword: “Teen sexting laws: Author sees their roots in slut shaming.”

I am really happy with the way this reporter used my comments about gender, sexuality, and slut-shaming. In a lot of other stories they tend to gloss over that. But here it’s even in the headline of the online version! I think the best part is the image that accompanies the print version. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but for the first time it feels like the person who chose the image actually read the article and found a way to illustrate a story about sexting without using a sexualized image of a teen girl. IMG_3237
Nearly all stories about sexting that include an image use a stock image of teenager using a mobile phone, a parent looking at a phone in shock (there is one image that’s been used over and over for years), and for many, a sexy (often partially obscured, pixelated, darkened, or blurred) image of a teenage girl sexting.

sexting-angry momThe hypocrisy, of course, is that in articles that harshly judge teenagers for sexting, and condemn girls for “sexualizing themselves,” the adults who illustrate these stories seem to have no qualms with producing sexual images of teenage girls. Apparently it’s only a moral problem when the girls create such images themselves. When adults choose, create, publish, and look at these images it seems to be no big deal. These stories, and the broader mass media landscape that routinely offers sexualized and objectifying images of women, are saying to teenage girls: Do as we say, not as we do.

It would be fair, or at least consistent if we either (1) stopped creating and looking at any objectifying images of women or (2) if we could stop shaming girls (and women) for participating in the production of these images.

Emma Holten: “Someone stole naked pictures of me. This is what I did about it”

Holten recounts the thousands of harassing messages she received after her stolen photos were posted online. She explains that this has nothing to do with her. It’s about the hatred of women.

Holten writes:

These messages were from men all over the world. Teen boys, university students, nuclear-family dads. The only thing they had in common was that they were all men. They knew it was against my will, that I didn’t want to be on those sites. The realisation that my humiliation turned them on felt like a noose around my neck. The absence of consent was erotic, they relished my suffering.

It’s one thing to be sexualised by people who are attracted to you, but it’s quite another thing when the lack of a ‘you’, when dehumanization, is the main factor. I realised that if I had been a model sexualising herself I would have been of little interest. My body was not the appealing factor. Furthermore, I saw that my loss of control legitimised the harrasment. I was a fallen woman, anyone’s game. What was I aside from a whore who had got what she deserved?