If you sometimes think about naked people, you are not alone. Human beings are obsessed with thinking/talking/freeform slamming about each other’s sex parts, and have been ever since the first homo erectus first made a dirty joke about its own name. Need more proof? Read one poem. ("Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" isn't about death after all!)
Some forms of sexual expression (e.g., drawing raunchy stick figures) are safer than others (e.g., drawing raunchy stick figures on your crush’s neck). But in our ultra-wired world, there exists one profoundly, stupidly, and distressingly easy way to avoid sexual consent and infiltrate someone’s privacy with the push of a button. It’s called sexting, and the fact that it's so popular with politicians should be reason enough for you to avoid it.
Now, sending or receiving a sexually explicit message won’t necessarily ruin your life. But—and you may want to blow a tune on your Obvious Oboe right about now—all sexual advances have consequences, regardless of whether they are physical or digital. An explicit or unwanted sext can make a person feel *at best* uncomfortable, and, at worst, like their life is over (it isn’t!).
If you or a friend have been sexted by someone whose inner-underwear zone you are not interested in, or someone has prompted you to sext your own, that is a problem. Fortunately, you have the power to deal with it in a safe, responsible way. Here are some options to consider:
Disconnect. Just disconnect, immediately. Shut your computer, holster your phone, and throw your iPad into the fireplace (there will be a better one in six months anyway). Get offline and live in the physical world with the people you actually like, because sexting is ultimately just another form of trolling. The troll ego feeds on attention and, like every houseplant we’ve ever owned, will slowly shrivel and die without it. Let your solicitor know without any wasted words that they are annoying and weak, and you will not lower yourself to their level.
Troll back. Okay, so sometimes lowering yourself to a troll’s level can be fun. If your solicitor hasn’t actually sent anything inappropriate, but is rather just badgering you for pics, they clearly have a minimal investment in this transaction, and are practically begging to be counter-trolled. Oblige them. Send a relentless assault of irrelevant pics until he abandons the conversation in impotent frustration. Some options include:
- A tasteful assortment of elbow pics.
- Majestic photographs of Earth from space. When questioned, say it’s an “extreme long shot” of your body, and that he should look harder at the next 12.
- A gallery illustrating the nuances of the naked mole rat: nature’s sausage casing
- A screen grab of federal sexual harassment laws.
- A picture of your father, brandishing a trident and pointing menacingly at the camera.
Let them know you’re no idiot. If someone sends or solicits a sext on any digital platform, that data is automatically recorded. You have instant evidence of their obnoxiousness, and thus power to make them stop. Alert your solicitor to this as politely as possible and, if they persist, let them know, “These pics aren’t doing it for me, but I think I know a state judge who’d love ‘em.” Your solicitor, ensconced in his digital breastplate, may puff up his chest and threaten you. But he is terrified and powerless. You won. Now get off the internet.
IMPORTANT: There is legal precedent for prosecuting sexters. Several American court cases have found teens guilty of child pornography charges for sending or possessing pics of other teens on their phones. Deserved or not, “sex offender” is a nickname—kind of like “Kingslayer”—that will follow a person around their entire life. Try to keep that in mind if you receive an unwanted sext from someone. Amid the internal biochemical meltdown of anger and embarrassment, you might want to do something to ruin that person’s life. But ruining a life is seldom worth it. (For more on this theme, read Shakespeare!)
Above all, remember: You have a right to use your phone or check Facebook without feeling uncomfortable. Never accept someone’s lewd behavior as a necessary evil in your life, no matter what they tell you. If you feel your privacy has been violated, discuss it with someone you trust. If you don’t trust anyone, condolences, but you may have a bright political career ahead of you.
Have you ever sexted?
Have you ever had to refuse someone who solicited a sext from you?
Do you think consensual sexting can be a positive thing?
Should all sext requests be submitted via Shakespearean sonnet?
Are we too connected to each other online?