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Sexting Panic

Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Sexting Panic
    Book Description:

    Sexting Panic illustrates that anxieties about technology and teen girls sexuality distract from critical questions about how to adapt norms of privacy and consent for new media. Though mobile phones can be used to cause harm, Amy Adele Hasinoff notes that the criminalization and abstinence policies meant to curb sexting often fail to account for distinctions between consensual sharing and malicious distribution. Challenging the idea that sexting inevitably victimizes young women, Hasinoff argues for recognizing young people's capacity for choice and encourages rethinking the assumption that everything digital is public. Timely and engaging, Sexting Panic analyzes the debates about sexting while recommending realistic and nuanced responses.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09696-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    Sexting is often seen as a technological, legal, sexual, and moral crisis. Widespread concern about sexting emerged in U.S. mass media in December 2008, when a national survey was released reporting that 20 percent of teenagers had sexted.¹ The termsextingrefers to the creation and sharing of personal sexual images or text messages via mobile phones or internet applications, including Facebook, Snapchat, and email. Teen sexting is often framed as a form of child pornography or as part of a cyberbullying epidemic, and adult sexting is often discussed in terms of celebrity infidelity or political scandal. Yet for many...


    • CHAPTER 1 The criminalization consensus and the right to sext
      (pp. 25-48)

      Freedom of expression and access to information have been particularly idealized since the early internet. Yet the discussion of young people’s information rights regarding their access to or creation of sexual media is virtually nonexistent. That minors should be protected from seeing representations of sexuality is so deeply embedded in common sense that the harmful effects of these prohibitions are rarely discussed (Levine, 2002). Despite the restrictions, many youth access sexual content online (Wolak, Mitchell, & Finkelhor, 2007) and some break laws in order to create and share sexual images (Mitchell et al., 2012). This book argues that granting young...

    • CHAPTER 2 Beyond teenage biology
      (pp. 49-70)

      Adolescents are often described as irrational, impulsive, out of control, and even crazy or stupid. This pejorative characterization is usually attributed to teen physiology: raging hormones, still-developing brains, and an innate orientation to peers. Such explanations are typically seen as obvious, rational, and uncontroversial. Yet, a growing number of researchers are questioning the dominance of biological models of youth behavior (R. Epstein, 2007a; Lesko, 2001; Levesque, 2000; Males, 1996, 1999; Walkerdine, 1984). As Thurlow (2007) points out, the homogenization and biological determinism that is common in mainstream media (and some scientific studies) about teenagers would not be tolerated for most...

    • CHAPTER 3 Self-esteem advice and blame
      (pp. 71-98)

      Since the mid-1990s, the standard advice to parents about internet safety has been that they should restrict and monitor their teens’ access to technology (Shade, 2011). But at the start of the widespread anxiety about teenage sexting in December 2008, a newspaper article offered some new advice to parents (Reimer, 2008). In this article, Bill Albert¹ suggests that parents should explain to their daughters that sending sexts to their boyfriends is “not what we meant when we talked about female empowerment.” Albert also advises against rationally explaining to teens that someone might distribute a private image; according to the “Sex...


    • CHAPTER 4 Sexualization and participation
      (pp. 101-127)

      If the question is: “Why are girls sexting?” one answer that might seem appealing is “sexualization.” The theory is that girls create suggestive images of themselves on their mobile phones because they are imitating what they see in mass media. Instead of considering how sexting might be, in some cases, a choice to express oneself sexually (Goldstein, 2009; Karaian, 2012), many people assume that sexting girls are misguidedly reproducing the sexualization of women in mass culture.

      Since at least the mid-2000s, sexualization has been identified as a crisis in news media, documentaries (Newsom, 2011; Palmer, 2012), reports (Papadopoulos, 2010; Zurbriggen...

    • CHAPTER 5 information and consent
      (pp. 128-154)

      There is an interesting contradiction in how we think about the capacity and right to control information. On one hand, there is broad legal and public support for the control of commercially produced information and media. From intellectual property and patent laws to copyright infringement lawsuits, the law and the public seem to generally support companies’ rights to own and control the information and media content they create. Yet, on the other hand, users are told that the inherent qualities of digital media make privacy impossible and that giving up control over their information and personal content is necessary for...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 155-160)

    Since the beginning of the media attention to sexting, a number of high-profile suicides have appeared in the news. In some cases, peers maliciously distributed girls’ self-produced images and then inflicted further sexual shaming and name-calling upon the victims (Celizic, 2009; Inbar, 2009). In other cases, victims of rape killed themselves after peers harassed them and circulated videos of the assaults (Mendoza, 2013; Visser, 2013). These tragic cases attracted particular interest because of the heightened shaming these girls experienced through social media. The evidence that is left behind when people socialize online makes once-private locker-room talk and whispers in the...

  9. APPENDIX 1. A brief history of the sexting panic
    (pp. 161-163)
  10. APPENDIX 2. Discourse analysis: How to find common sense
    (pp. 164-167)
  11. APPENDIX 3. Sexting tips and recommendations
    (pp. 168-172)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 173-184)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 185-216)
  14. index
    (pp. 217-222)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 223-226)