Sexual Cyber Violence : Sexting and Revenge Porn [1/2]

The term ‘sexting’ was popularized in the early 2000s to refer to the act of sending a sexually explicit text message via cell phone. But it also now refers to the act of sending an erotically or sexually explicit photograph in order to charm one’s partner, or to the act of making a sex tape with him/her. According to the French columnist Maia Mazaurette, ‘‘sexting combines sex and text… but, ironically, the term is no more appropriate. Firstly, because text messages have long been overtaken by instant messaging services such as Facebook’s, but mainly because sexting is no longer a matter of text. We massively sext each other by sending photos”.

Is Sexting Becoming the Norm ?

According to an Ifop survey, 29% of adults between the ages of 18 and 69 had already received in 2013 sexually explicit texts and images, 19 % had already sent it, and 10 % had already made a sex tape with their partner. However, people under the age of 25 seemed a bit more inclined to “sext”: 35% had already received texts and images, 26% had already asked someone to send it, 26% had already been asked to, and 25% had already sent. Regarding adolescents (12-15 years), 7% of them had already, in 2016, sent a naked picture of them to their boy/girlfriend.

Sexting Is a Game of Seduction

Sexting is a game of seduction, a prequel to foreplay based on trust: the content sent is supposed to remain confidential. We can sext a current partner or sext a future one (for example thought a dating app like Tinder). Obviously, people did not wait for social media to send erotic or sexual messages. According to the French philosopher Elsa Godart, “this change in sexuality is a matter of form rather than substance. It is a new way of wooing. Sex tape is the new striptease”. As for the teenagers, by sexting they “do nothing else than imitate adults” (Bellon, Gardette, 2014: 86).

Sexting Can Turn into Cyber Violence

Sexting turns into cyber violence when the recipient is disturbed or shocked by the image she/he received. Sexting turns into cyber violence when intimidation is involved (e.g. 4% of teen girls having already sent naked pictures of them did it under pressure) or when an image or video is made without the subject’s consent. Above all, sexting turns into cyber violence when an image or video, even made with consent, is broadcast online without the subject’s permission just to humiliate her/him and damage her/his reputation… Just to commit revenge porn.

[To be continued]


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