A new study has found that teenage girls often face intense pressure to send nude photographs, highlighting an acute need to change the way adults frame conversations about “sexting.”
The New York Times reports that Sara Thomas, a doctoral student at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern, analyzed nearly 500 posts on the website A Thin Line, an MTV resource that educates young people about “digital abuse.” The comments were posted by girls ranging in age from 12 to 18, some of whom wrote that they had sent nude photographs simply because they were asked. But others described being subjected to manipulative and — most frequently — coercive tactics.
“i have this boyfriend n he always asks me to send him nude pictures n if i dont he thinks that i dont love him n i really do when i comfronted him about it he said he do love me should i believe him???” one commenter wrote (spelling and grammatical errors are preserved in the samples included in the study).
“I’ve been asked multiple times by my boyfriends and or guy friends to send a nude pic,” another said. “Every time I decline, I either get harrassed for it, insulted, or they just flat out ignore/break up with me.”
“my bf preaused me for hours to send him pictures of me naked,” yet another comment reads. “Now he threarens to send them out if i dont send hin more really nasty pics. The stuff i have to do is unbelievable. im 14.”
In 101 of the posts, girls described being subjected to multiple tactics aimed at eliciting nude pictures. One commenter, for instance, said that a boy had asked for a photo , sent a nude picture of his penis when she refused (“as leverage,” Thomas notes), and finally refused to speak to her.
The results of the study indicate that simply telling girls not to send nude photographs “ignores the complicated tensions they are negotiating on a regular basis,” Thomas told the Times. It is just as important for parents to tell their sons that it is inappropriate and unfair to ask for the photographs in the first place.
“Young women’s attempts to negotiate coercive situations on their own suggest that young women feel it is their burden to manage situations,” Thomas writes in her paper. “This study indicates that these messages have been internalized such that young men are not being held responsible for gaining consent or respecting the boundaries of their partners.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.