… In order for us to address sexting in a realistic way with teens, we must first understand the sexual culture they live in that normalizes sexting.
1. Teens think everyone is sexting and it’s no big deal.
2. Boys and girls engage in sexting for different reasons. Girls feel pressure to send sexts and are more likely to do so than boys. Boys feel more pressure to collect sexts and are more likely to receive sexts and share them with friends or post them online than girls. This poses an issue because it sets up a type of marketplace, where the boys are the consumers and the girls are the products to be consumed …
3. The sexual double standard is alive and well in sexting. We think nothing of a boy requesting a nude image or video, but when a girl participates, we think something is wrong with her …
4. Sexting can be a sign of self-objectification.
5. We have a victim blaming culture, even when it comes to sexting. When I do educational seminars about sex and technology with parents and teachers, I overwhelmingly hear stories of “sexting scandals”. Usually followed by a, “Why would she send a nude photo of herself in the first place? Something must be wrong with her.”
6. We need to redefine female sexual liberation.
7. We need to support girls to foster their own talents and abilities in multiple areas of life, and encourage boys to support them too. You don’t want your teen to sext? Try telling them not to do it. That didn’t work you say? Shocking. It’s important for parents of boys to acknowledge the pressure girls feel to prove they are sexy and to encourage them to recognize girls’ interests, talents and knowledge above their looks whenever possible. For parents of girls, it’s important to focus on their abilities and not just their looks or dress from a young age. It’s not that it is bad for teen girls to express sexuality, it’s just that we don’t want their only dose of daily self-esteem boost to come from a sexy selfie because her sexual worth is her only worth.
8. We need to hold boys and men accountable for their actions, they are capable of not acting on sexual impulses.