Amy Adele Hasinoff – Communications researcher
People have been using media to talk about sex for a long time. Love letters, phone sex, racy Polaroids. There’s even a story of a girl who eloped with a man that she met over the telegraph in 1886. Today we have sexting, and I am a sexting expert. Not an expert sexter. Though, I do know what this means — I think you do too.
[it’s a penis]
I have been studying sexting since the media attention to it began in 2008. I wrote a book on the moral panic about sexting. And here’s what I found: most people are worrying about the wrong thing. They’re trying to just prevent sexting from happening entirely. But let me ask you this: As long as it’s completely consensual, what’s the problem with sexting? People are into all sorts of things that you may not be into, like blue cheese or cilantro.
Sexting is certainly risky, like anything that’s fun, but as long as you’re not sending an image to someone who doesn’t want to receive it, there’s no harm. What I do think is a serious problem is when people share private images of others without their permission. And instead of worrying about sexting, what I think we need to do is think a lot more about digital privacy.
The key is consent. Right now most people are thinking about sexting without really thinking about consent at all. Did you know that we currently criminalize teen sexting? It can be a crime because it counts as child pornography, if there’s an image of someone under 18, and it doesn’t even matter if they took that image of themselves and shared it willingly.