One girl learned about sexting the hard way–more than once.
A girl named Sophie was being asked repeatedly by a guy in her class to send him naked pictures, so what’d she do? She was used to denying the requests or flat out ignoring them, but this guy apparently really wanted to see her boobs, because he asked her 10 times in one day. So she felt kinda special and pretty–after all, no one asks to see ugly girls naked, right? So she took off her top and sent the guy a topless photo.
Except she didn’t just send it to him, because he forwarded it to every guy in their class. As a result, she was bullied, lost a lot of her friends, and got grounded. Her self-esteem took a hit, so she relied on the attention of guys to make her feel better about herself–and then did the same thing again with another dude, who also sent it out to everyone else.
What sucks about Sophie’s situation is that it’s far from unique. Four in ten teens have sent nude photos over their phones. But there are so, so, so many disturbing things about this particular story that we think are pretty telling.
First off, Sophie said the guy asked her ten times in one day for a nude photo. That’s not flattering. That’s sexual harassment. Giving in and giving creeps like this what they want makes them think that their behavior is okay. It’s not. And it’s a slippery slope from asking a girl to sext him a hot photo to thinking it’s okay to make lewd comments at her in the hallway. From there, he may think it’s okay to grab her and other girls’ butts or boobs–because, you know, naked pics and stuff were okay. And then he may figure, “Well, she clearly wants to bone me!” And then what else may he feel comfortable pressuring girls into doing? (You see where we’re going with this.)
Second, you need to know that even if you totally trust the guy you’re sending nude photos to, there’s still a chance that your topless pic will go public. What happens if he loses his phone or gets it stolen and someone looks through his files? What happens if you forget you have topless pics on your phone and hand it over to a pal to take a call and they see them? There are so many freakin’ bad scenarios with this.
Thirdly, Sophie said something in the story that really disturbed us. “It’s just normal. If a boy likes a girl, the first thing he does is ask for your picture. Some of my friends had done exactly the same thing for boys.” Uh, wrong, Sophie. If a guy likes a girl for who she is, the first thing he asks for is her phone number, a date, your favorite color–he’ll ask you about you as a person, and he’ll ask for your time. He won’t ask for topless photos. It sounds like Sophie, and a lot of the girls in her school, have a really screwed up idea of how romantic relationships work. Genuine interest stems from mutual respect. If the first thing a guy asks you for is a naked photo, he doesn’t like you. He doesn’t respect you. And he sure as sh–er, shoelaces–doesn’t deserve to see you naked.
You already know that sexting nude photos is a bad idea–c’mon, girls, you’re not dumb. We know that just by reading a lot of your comments on here! But that doesn’t mean that sexting isn’t more popular than ever with teens, with four in ten sending topless photos (and sometimes bottomless, too) over their cells.
If you insist on sexting anyway, you need to know the risks. Depending on how old you and whoever receives the sext are, you can be arrested for child pornography charges. You can be publicly humiliated (and believe us, we hate slut shaming–but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen). And if you’re sexting just because some guy tells you to, you’re proliferating sexism and sexual harassment by reinforcing the message that some pig’s behavior is okay. As Sophie put it, “Boys think they have the right to do this. They treat girls like dirt. It’s just the way life is. Adults can’t change that.”