1. Technology has drastically and possibly forever changed the sexual climate that children and teenagers live their lives in.
|photo credit Kathy Cassidy|
The internet is the new wild west. It's a near-lawless territory with a developing etiquette and social and moral code. It is the old generation's new reality and the new generations only reality. Since technology has not moved slow, the principles of digital citizenship are still being developed but they are not widespread as cultural value norms. For instance there is no cultural consensus on whether it is rude to text while you are talking to someone in person. This can seem like an overwhelming idea but it doesn't need to be. We get to be the people that develop this new world.
These factors are at play when we talk about digital sexuality. I want to talk two different areas that are underdeveloped when it comes to digital sexuality and how that effects Canadian students.
When Amanda Todd went to the police about her sexual extortion they were not any help. Their advice was to stay off the computer. Telling a teenager to give up the internet and cell phone usage is like telling an adult to give up transportation. It's how they navigate their world. She had to develop her own safety code, no longer sharing pictures with "randoms". It makes me wonder, if everything on the internet is traceable why is it so difficult to find people that commit crimes online?
Anyone who has a picture of a nude or near nude minor is in possession of illegal pornography. This may be the law but in Canada we don't see it being enforced as the law. One teenager in the film Sexted Up Kids said she shared a nude picture of herself and had to find out, herself who had the picture and tell them to delete it. Sadly we see a different attitude towards these situations and other situations of illegal pornography. This is most likely because the victim of the illegal photo-sharing most likely was the first to share the picture. This is part of a larger attitude towards females. It's an attitude that believes that women only deserve justice when they are completely blameless. I will talk more about this later.
Pornography is illegal for all minors and yet 93% of boys watch porn before they are 18 and 62% of girls. This would never be allowed if these statistics came from the illegal sale of dirty magazines from corner stores. But the internet seems impossible to police.
2. CULTURAL VALUES/NORMS
As the documentary Sext Up Kids points out, children and adolescents are being constantly competing messages. Girls are told to flaunt their bodies, that there is a sense of worth that comes from how they look. They are told that their bodies can look sexual, as if sexuality were way you look. In the documentary they mentioned a study of female pleasure in sexual activity and found the majority of younger females talked solely about how they felt they looked during the act. One commentator said in this sexed up culture the students are living in a society that girls can choose to be sexy or invisible. She doesn't have many other options.
So with these cultural values being propagated is it any wonder that female students take a million selfies and that a percentage of those are going to be nude and near-nude? But not only does the sexed up culture demand this type of body-based sexuality, it also demands the image of purity simultaneously be maintained. As soon as the teenage girl takes the nude selfie that society has been priming her to take, she is deemed by society as a whore. It does not take much to be a whore in Canadian societal values. In our cultural tradition whores don't deserve justice, they deserve everything that follows the loss of their perceived purity.
Boys on the other hand are having their sexual world shaped by the fiction of pornography (as are girls). The majority of pornography would be classified as hardcore porn, which is porn that depicts violent, semi-violent, demeaning, solely male pleasure based pornography. If this is their sexual education they will see women as an object in their sexual experience. Simultaneously they are being told they are the driving force of romance in a romantic relationship. A romantic concept of love is not limited to Romantic Comedies. The media that boys consume has the same type of romantic expectations if not more. In a typical action film not only are you the one that buys the flowers, you also need to kill an army of ninjas and give up your life for your love. So boys are constantly told to lust for and love women, to cherish and demean them, to be romantic and have specific sexual expectations that only benefit themselves.
Video of Alan Alda's thoughts on Misogyny
In the Sext Up documentary it ends on a note that students are really looking for romantic love not sex and the former should be sought over the other. It's my personal opinion that both are flawed visions for relationships that have a hierarchical framework in which the man has ownership over the woman. In the romantic framework men are expected to take care of the female. To woo and win. When in reality those relationships are best understood as a partnership, as a team. A team that makes the world a better place, maybe raise some kids as a team. I know it's not very romantic though but it will build a better world.