What do you get when you mix cell phones with a culture of Girls Gone Wild? Sexting.Â Sexting is the practice of young women sending text messages of nude or partially nude photos of themselves to their boyfriends or romantic prospects. It’s the newest craze. And it’s getting more and more prevalent.
A survey of 1,280 teens and young adults – conducted by TRU, a global leader in research on teens and 20-somethings – reports that one in five teen girls (22%)-and 11% of teen girls ages 13-16 years old-say they have electronically sent, or posted online, nude or semi-nude images of themselves. These racy images are also getting passed around: One-third (33%) of teen boys and one-quarter (25%) of teen girls say they have had nude/semi-nude images-originally meant to be private-shared with them.
The statistics among the young adult population of 20 to 26 year olds is even more staggering. More than one third (36%) of young adult women have sent or posted nude or seminude images of themselves.
Other findings from the Sex and Tech Survey include:
- Sending sexually suggestive messages is even more prevalent than sending nude/semi-nude images. Nearly half of young people (49% total, 39% of teens, 59% of young adults) have sent sexually suggestive text messages or email messages to someone.
- Even more have received sexually suggestive messages: 48% of teens and 64% of young adults (56% total). Fully one-third of young teen girls (ages 13-16) have received sexually suggestive messages.
- Even though nearly three-quarters of young people (73% total, 75% of teens, 71% of young adults) say that sending sexually suggestive content “can have serious negative consequences,” nearly one-quarter (22% total, 19% of teens and 26% of young adults) say sending sexually suggestive content is “no big deal.”
- What teens and young adults are doing electronically seems to have an effect on what they do in real life: Nearly one-quarter of teens (22%) admit that technology makes them personally more forward and aggressive. More than one-third of teens (38%) say exchanging sexy content makes dating or hooking up with others more likely and nearly one-third of teens (29%) believe those exchanging sexy content are “expected” to date or hook up.
Law enforcement agencies are struggling with how to manage the sexting phenomenon. In several cases across the nation, prosecutors have threatened child pornography charges against teens who received or sent the text messages. Â In Pennsylvania, a prosecutor threatened to charge three teenage girls with trafficking in child pornography after photos of themselves topless or in their skivvies ended up being sent to classmates’ phones. A kiddie porn conviction could mean jail time or even registration as sex offender. The district attorney offered that in order to avoid the charges, the girls participate in a five-week re-education program, in which they would discuss “what they did wrong” and “what it means to be a girl.”Â But their parents and the American Civil Liberties Union intervened. They argued that these young women had every right to send the explicit photos.
There’s so much that could be said about all this, but what’s so interesting to me, is the district attorney’s insistence that the girls needed to be “re-educated” about “what it means to be a girl.” The irony of the situation is that the actions of these girls are totally in line with our culture’s definition of womanhood. The reason they’re sexting is because they HAVE been re-educated about what it means to be a girl! They’re the first fruits of a truly feminist culture. They’ve been taught – and they truly believe – that women have the right and the power to do and be whatever they want. Women define themselves! So in their minds, they haven’t done anything wrong. Sexting is just another expression of Girl-Power. It’s nothing but a practical application of Betty Friedan’s mantra that “We (women) need and can trust no other authority than our own personal truth!”
The authors of the Sex and Tech survey conclude that teens need to think before pressing “send” and that parents need to talk to their kids about sex and technology. This is undoubtedly true. But until we present our young women with a new and beautiful vision of womanhood – a biblical vision . . . a high and noble vision that speaks to their true identity and purpose – they will continue to pursue the modern sexualized ideal, and slither further down the slippery slope. Women, it’s time to reject the feminist notion that women can define what womanhood is all about.Â It’s time to look to our Creator for a true definition of womanhood. It’s time to stand up for the minds and hearts of the next generation of women. It’s time for a holy counter-revolution.
copyright 2009, Mary A. Kassian