Sexting & Intimate Relations: The Development of Women’s Sexuality in Contemporary Society

  • The stigma of sexting holds the combinations of a negative connotation and suggests one committing a deviant action within contemporary society. Speaking openly of (even just heterosexual) sex and intimate relations within the public sphere online is a relatively new concept that has been developed by modern technology and the ability to enable your private relationships to be broadcasted globally through social media and instant messaging. Does this ‘blame’ for negativity revolving around explicit images of a woman’s, particularly girl’s, breasts plastered on the Internet lie solely with the woman herself? Explicit images of women have been circulated, not only by the owner of the image, but also by peers and men who appear to have a sexual interest in that woman.
  • Quoting from Aappola et al (2005), sexting is a contemporary topic of girlhood ‘crisis’. Does this suggest that young adult women are to blame for this stigma attached to the sexting culture? Or are young women simply physically, emotionally and mentally developing and needing to express their immerging identity on a platform that feels comfortable to them.
  • Ringrose & Harvey (forthcoming 2014) research of 13-15 year olds in 2 London schools, illustrates that boys expect and ‘demand’ girls to send explicit images they are still viewed as a ‘slut’ and easy from their peers (boys and girls). Through Ringrose & Harvey’s digital observation method of the youth’s facebook profile suggests that the boys framed their developing ‘pecs’ online as their display profiles for ‘likes’ and recognition of approval, therefore these boys did not experience the same negative stigma as a girl would if she had done the same online action.
  • The catalyst of new technologies in contemporary culture has increased and enhanced young women’s sexualisation through high visibility of television advertisements and magazines. As Evans et al (2010:115) notes ‘…the ‘up for it’ female sexuality is represented in now a public discourse…’ that was once a very private sphere. A sphere that was not shared through online media and images but kept personal and secretive, depending on the degree of ‘sexiness’. Evans et al continues to point out that the male gaze needs to now be re evaluated within a modern society –
  • ‘… where women now increasingly gaze at each other and at themselves…” Evans et al suggests that the new contemporary woman no longer seeks approval of the male gaze because she has a freely chosen look.

  • Does this mean that the image she posts of a sexual nature is for a self –pleasing aim or to impress and attract the opposite sex? One must be reminded, that individuals have various types of thresholds for what is accounted for as ‘sexy’ or ‘explicit’, to a certain degree. One may believe that a woman in a bikini is too sexy to be presented within the public sphere online, though this type of image depends on the context, if that woman is bikini clad on a beach then other women may not be as critical of her ‘sluttiness’, because it is in a ‘holiday’ context, (Ringrose & Harvey 2014).

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