Sabbatical updates

I have just started a 10-month sabbatical fellowship at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg in Delmenhorst, Germany. In 2020, I will also be an ACLS fellow. This means I’ll be focusing entirely on research from August 2019 through December 2020.

hwk
Das Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg

Having just started my first sabbatical, I have to say I agree with Meagan Day’s argument in Jacobin that everyone should have one. This vision is of course even more radical than an academic sabbatical — Day wants us to have time off from all forms of work. Though I do hope to have time to read more novels, watch more TV, and travel more during my sabbatical, I also have lots of grand plans for new research projects. 

One of the best things about getting tenure last year is that I feel less need to prioritize first- and single-authored publications. I now feel like I can be more open to hanging out in the middle of an author list, which can take my research in unexpected and exciting directions. While I’ve co-authored before, right now, all 5(!) of the projects I am currently working on are collaborative.  One’s nearly in press, others are in the data-gathering phase, another is (hopefully) half-written, and another is merely a glimmer in our eyes and pages of incoherent notes.

CNN.com op ed on Facebook and revenge porn

I have an op ed on CNN.com today about Facebook’s recent efforts to combat revenge porn.

170929151708-fb-background-medium-plus-169

“Revenge porn” is sexual abuse in a new digital form. A recent study shows that 10% of women under 30 years old in the United States have been victimized by the misuse of their intimate images. Facebook is one of many platforms that host this kind of abuse despite its efforts to tinker with the ways users can report unauthorized content.

This spring, Facebook rolled out a feature allowing users to request that Facebook take down any unauthorized intimate images that are being shared on the platform. And last week, Facebook announced a pilot program for users in Australia to upload nude images of themselves they suspected were being shared without their permission. Facebook would then generate a digital fingerprint of each image so that it couldn’t be shared on the platform.

A better solution would be to give users the power to prevent any images that depict them from ever being posted on the platform.

I’m not sure why, but I was a bit surprised by the low quality of the user comments. Many are victim-blaming (well, just don’t sext then, duh) and others are panicked misinterpretations of free speech. Here’s a good response from user “Dahak:”

Why are so many people confused about the 1st Amendment? It says the government can’t arrest you or penalize you for speaking. Facebook is not the government. Facebook can put whatever restrictions it wants to on its platform. If you don’t like it, don’t use it. If you have a better idea, go build it and popularize it. That is how the free market works.

CBS This Morning

I was on CBS This Morning today talking about the opposition to Colorado’s proposed sexting misdemeanor bill:Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 8.23.48 AM

I don’t really understand the analogy to voting rights that the anchor makes at the end. After all, it’s not like all teens technically can vote, but then if they do cast a ballot, it’s a crime. That’s the difference with sexting that is so important to understand: one-third of 16- and 17-year olds are sexting, whether it’s a felony, misdemeanor, or not. We have to deal with that reality rather than dreaming that we might bring that rate down to 0%. It’s not going to happen.

Criminalizing all sexting  doesn’t stop it from happening, it just harms victims (because they won’t report if it means they’re guilty of the same crime), sends a dangerous slut-shaming message to girls who sext consensually, and gives law enforcement too much power to police consensual teen sexuality.

Sexual assault is a problem, but we don’t try to solve it by banning all sex. Instead, we have laws that are only against sexual assault. Sexting works the same way–it doesn’t make sense to ban all sexting, we need narrowly tailored ways of addressing harmful behaviors like sharing or creating a sexual image without permission.

“Teen sexting bill hits roadblock at State Capitol”

A local FOX news segment on the Colorado sexting bill.

The comment at the end of the video about “an opponent said that we don’t ban teen sex outright, so we shouldn’t ban sexting” was from me. This is great because reporters usually don’t cite (either they don’t cite specifically, or sometimes don’t cite at all) the things they agree with. Common sense needs no citation.