All Your Kids are Sexting: Sex, Nudity, and Violence

 

A recent study has found that roughly 28% of teenagers text fully naked pictures of themselves to other people, also known as sexting. 31% of teens admitted to asking others for sexts. This means that sexting has become as trendy as bell bottoms were for your mom and dad in their psychedelic days of yore.

The study examined almost 1,000 high school students from seven public schools in southeast Texas (yes, the study is confined to Texas, so the data is extrapolated, but unless this particular region of Texas is the sexting capital of the world, it’s a fairly safe extrapolation). The participants were 14 – 19 years old and 55% were female.  Interestingly, the study found that male and female teens sext at equal rates, though girls were asked far more often to send naked pictures than guys were.

Sexting also seems to be age related, as the study found that:

 

More 16- to 17-year-olds sexted than their younger and older peers. Sexting requests also peaked when teens were in that age range and dropped off at age 18.

 

Some important highlights regarding sexting include:

  1. White teens sext the most, far more than any other race.
  2. There is a strong correlation between sexting and sexual behavior, including unsafe sex.
  3. Girls are bothered the most to send sexts.
  4. Socio-economic status has no effect on the rate of sexting.
  5. Most importantly, due to vague laws, millions of teens may be held liable for child pornography charges, leading many to urge law makers to create more specific child pornography laws.

So what does all of this mean?  Should we start destroying cell phones with bibles and ask the Westboro Baptist Church to pray for America’s salvation?  Is America destined to become a sex-ridden cesspool of debauchery and child porn?  No. I feel like a broken record when I say this, but what this means is that we all need a paradigm shift in the way we think, as well as more thorough and realistic education regarding the topic. We are sexual beings, and no matter how much we try to repress this fact, it remains true.

Let’s begin:

Sex is taboo in many countries around the world, and America is far from the exception.  Our bodies are a constant source of shame and seen as something to hide from the world and ourselves.  God forbid that a girl is curious about her vagina, or a young boy about ejaculation! On the other hand, violence, gore, and war is glorified and constantly portrayed as heroic, noble, and necessary. Why are we so afraid of telling our kids about the most essential part of life, the act that makes life possible?  Our Puritan ancestors would be proud, but the progressive future is shaking a giant, phallic fist at us.

George R.R. Martin, the author of the Game of Thrones series, explains perfectly the problem with our culture regarding sex:

I can describe an axe entering a human skull in great explicit detail and no one will blink twice at it. I provide a similar description, just as detailed, of a penis entering a vagina, and I get letters about it and people swearing off. To my mind this is kind of frustrating, it’s madness. Ultimately, in the history of [the] world, penises entering vaginas have given a lot of people a lot of pleasure. Axes entering skulls, well, not so much.

We bring our children to movies featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger taking lives with every pull of his trigger finger but cover their eyes when a naked body is shown on screen.  When boys get into fights we say “boys will be boys,” but when a girl has her first kiss we tell her to stay away and that sex will ruin her life. The spread of sexting is a direct reflection of a culture, and what a culture represses and praises.  Curiosity killed the cat, and it also forced kids to resort to sending naked pictures of themselves.  That’s all this is, simple curiosity and pubescent excitement. The age related aspect of sexting proves it.  Let’s take one more look:

More 16- to 17-year-olds sexted than their younger and older peers. Sexting requests also peaked when teens were in that age range and dropped off at age 18.

Now, this situation isn’t a simple black and white, on the contrary, it is criss-crossed with the complexities of media, politics, substance, religion, parenting, education, and more.  Here is something to consider when thinking about how to raise your own children though:  not every westernized, developed society has the same cultural values regarding sex, nudity and violence as the United States, and guess what, they are doing fine.

Let’s consider nudity.  I live in South Korea right now, and one of the cultural pastimes in Korea is going to the bath house, or in romanized Hangul, the jimjilbang. Males and females go into separate rooms and just generally relax in baths and saunas of different temperatures.  The entire time you are naked.  Little boys and anciently old men ‘hang out’ around each other with everything hanging loose.  I must admit, as a man raised in Midwest America who is used to changing his underwear using the old ‘under the towel’ trick, the bath houses were quite a shock and took a little while to get fully used to.

When I traveled to Scandanavia, I noticed that they had a totally different view of nudity, and gender roles as well.  Many of the magazines depicted topless women, and lying naked on the beach seemed pretty common in Oslo, Norway.  I even saw women breast feeding their babies in public without the slightest bit of self-conscious worry.

Simply put, people in countries like these learn to be comfortable with their bodies, and grow up with a realistic understanding that the men and women they see in the movies and in pornography are not the norm.

Could sexting be related to a repression of our natural bodies?  Could it be a response to a childhood of being more scared of being naked around others than anything else?  I don’t know, but I do know that in America the only naked bodies, or semi-nude bodies that children see are those of perfectly sculpted, often photoshopped models/ celebrities.  In a country where celebrity worship syndrome affects a large portion of the population, it is understandable that the American public has a very warped, unrealistic and shallow view of beauty and themselves.

Every country has a different view of sex and sexual education, but what is common is that sex-ed seems to be lacking in the realistic department.  Unless you really are a time traveling 18th century Puritan, you will agree that teens are going to engage in sexual behavior whether we like it or not, no matter how much we like to believe our children are innocent angels devoted to celibacy.  Face it, your child is a ravenous horn dog just like you, and pretending otherwise is only going to confuse the hell out of him or her and make them think there is something wrong with them when they start masturbating incessantly.

Sexuality and violence are also portrayed in a completely different light in other countries. In fact, they have utterly different rating systems.  For example, in Sweden it’s totally acceptable for a 13 year old and even younger to see a movie with a scene depicting sex (I’m not referring to hardcore porn, just a scene where sex is obviously taking place).  On the other hand, it is inappropriate for a 13 year old to witness any type of violence, even scenes that we Americans would consider sissy stuff, like a punch or a slap.  Perhaps that’s why Sweden has one of the lowest intentional homicide rates in the entire world (to be fair, although Sweden has one of the lowest homicide rates, it does have a relatively large rape problem. )

It is very difficult to accurately and fairly measure crime rates worldwide as all countries have different definitions of crime as well as differing methods for obtaining information. One thing is for sure though, the United States is extremely violent!

It’s pretty obvious here that the media and culture at large are the leading factors in emerging sexual behavior and violence as a whole. What can we do about it?  Be an honest, open parent.

Don’t punish your child for being curious and excited about the world they live in. Just because your child is engaging in sexting does not mean they are some sex crazed, immoral nympho. They are curious about their body and sexuality, and would benefit greatly from open conversations with you regarding sex and sexual behavior. Be honest with your children. Do your job and be a guide.  The less you tell them, the more you are endangering and limiting their lives.

 

Sources:

http://mashable.com/2012/07/05/teen-sexting/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mashable+%28Mashable%29

http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/06/teenage-sexting-is-becoming-the-norm/

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/21/us/21sexting.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Culture/Lifestyle/2012/Jul-23/181552-sci-fi-writer-likes-characters-to-suffer.ashx#ixzz21lPUwjUC

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jjimjilbang_being_naked

http://scienceblogs.com/aardvarchaeology/2007/03/14/scandinavian-attitudes-to-nudi/

http://uk.lifestyle.yahoo.com/blogs/yahoo-lifestyles/models-look-photoshop-200407503-15.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebrity_worship_syndrome

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omBfg3UwkYM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_education#Other_countries

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_picture_rating_system

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

http://archives.huntingtonnews.net/39907%20rape%20in%20sweden

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violent_crime

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_statistics

http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=31

 

One thought on “All Your Kids are Sexting: Sex, Nudity, and Violence

  1. Pingback: The Rise of Labiaplasty: Having the Perfect Vagina - Wondergressive

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