Celebrity sexting scandal creates discussion on privacy, double standards
Sexting among young adults is on the rise, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. The survey released in February revealed that 44 percent of people between the ages of 18 to 24 receive sexts, which rose from a 26 percent in 2012. That’s roughly 13,376 UH students.
The report defined sexting as “receiving, sending or forwarding sexually suggestive photos or videos via cell phone.” Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton are examples of women within the reported age group who have played a role in the topic of sexting. Comments on social media created a wide division of opinion — some people claimed an inherent violation of privacy, while websites like returnofkings.com wrote about Lawrence as a “hypocritical slut” after the photo scandal.
Beverly McPhail, an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Social Work said that eroticism has been around since the ancient times, and it is okay to want to sext.
“Human bodies are beautiful, and it is natural, normal and acceptable to want to share photos of yourself with a romantic partner,” McPhail said. “What is not acceptable is to shame women who were the victim of a crime.”
A separate study published last year by Purdue University surveyed 278 undergrads and suggested that women reported stronger negative expectancies on receiving a sext versus men, including being uncomfortable or feeling embarrassed about it.
“I think women are in a double bind in our nation … Women are told to be sexy and virginal, innocent and provocative, all at the same time,” McPhail said.
Women’s Resource Program Coordinated Center Malkia Hutchinson said she thinks the negative reactions are due to the patriarchal belief that women shouldn’t be sexual or be seen as sexual.
“Many people, who don’t even realize (they’ve) internalized misogyny, in the ways they have will blame those women for taking pictures in the first place, which is their right to do, and not the person who violated their privacy and stole their property,” Hutchinson said.
Senior psychology major Brian Lima said he doesn’t agree with the idea of sexting but he doesn’t condemn it either.
“I wouldn’t call women slutty for taking naked pictures and sending them — I think it’s their choice — but I think they should be more cautious about it,” Lima said.
McPhail said the reaction to the leaked photos showed the sexual double standard in the country. The same behavior displayed by men is seen as masculine and sexy, but for women it leads to slut-shaming.
“Advertisements show nearly-naked women, and then a woman breastfeeds her baby and people are shocked by a glimpse of her breast,” McPhail said.
“I think it shows how our society is still very conflicted about women’s sexuality; it is seen as something dangerous and something to be controlled.”