Sunday was the premiere of MTV’s Sexting in America special, but I didn’t get to catch it until this morning due to not having cable, homework galore and a 24 hour stomach virus that snuck up on me yesterday.
While the special was interesting, well-made and featured a bevy of professional folk (an internet lawyer, anyone?), I was disappointed in MTV for not embracing teenagers and their emerging sexuality. I feel that adults are not comfortable with acknowledging the growing curiosity with sex amongst young people. That’s one of the biggest issues here, adults want to ignore – the fact that we are experimenting with sex. They assume that they know everything and want to protect us from irresponsibility, but they don’t realize that if they just spoke to us on a ‘real’ level, we would be more comfortable with what we did with our own bodies. And by adults, I mean ALL adults, not just your parents. Just like what Jaclyn Friedman says in her article, “When Sex is Normal, Normal People Will Talk About Sex“, instead of changing our persona “to conform to cultural norms,” we changed “the norms to conform” to our reality.
My generation is the technology generation; when I was thirteen, I registered for my first MySpace account. Everybody had one and altered their page to represent who they are (or who they wanted to be) through layouts, graphics, music, photos, etc. Your e-world revolved around comments, friend requests and number of hits your page received. You knew you had a hot photo when you received 10+ comments on it, and for a young teen, it was definitely a confidence booster. Showing off your abs, flexing your muscles or flaunting your curves was virtually accepted, and if people had a problem with it, then they were considered haters.
Of course, it’s not a smart decision to send a provocative photo of yourself to anyone, particularly an ex-boyfriend (you’re not going out with him for a reason), because it can end up being seen by e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e. However, we shouldn’t start victim-blaming; with each sexting case I come across, the problem starts with the person receiving the text who ends up forwarding it to all his contacts. Then she gets blamed, and the entire school calls her a “slut”, “whore” and “ho.” Here is where the issue of GENDER ROLES come into play. If a guy showed his junk to the entire school, people wouldn’t be calling him a “ho” or a “slut”. They would mostly likely give him props and all the girls would be trying to get with him. But when Ally’s topless photo circulated around the school, she was getting bashed by everyone. One of the name-callers even appeared on the special, claiming that she wanted to fight her because Ally’s boobs appeared on her man’s phone and she was jealous. Girl, don’t you think you man has a collection of playboys under his bed that he peeps every so often?
Not being in high school makes everyone forget how important your reputation meant to you, but once you graduate you realize how pointless all that bullshit was. We should think about why we call a girl a “ho” and “slut” for doing exactly what everyone else is doing. That’s natural… its the shaming that isn’t.