People who are young and immature do not just believe that they are bullet-proof. They are convinced that they have nothing to lose. They do not work for a living. They do not have reputations for being responsible, reliable and trustworthy. Or better, they do not think that they do.
Thus, they have apparently chosen Lena Dunham as their heroine. The queen of oversharing is making good use of her years in therapy. She has overcome shame.
Of course, Dunham’s artist parents filled her house with artistic semi-porn, so it might be that she is trying to deal with the trauma you suffer when you feel that you are constantly being flashed.
But, Dunham might have taken things a bit too far in her new book. There she recounted the time her seven-year-old Self decided to examine the genitalia of her baby sister.
For all I know she was trying to figure out whether art imitated life.
In jest, Dunham referred to herself as a “sexual predator” but apparently more than a few people either did not get the joke or did not believe that her childhood antics were very funny.
For most of us it does not feel like a joking matter.
Anyway, members of the psycho profession have rushed to defend Dunham. They insist that normal seven-year-old girls naturally want to examine their baby sisters’ genitalia.
They did not say whether or not they recommended the behavior and do not say whether a seven-year-old should be taking care of a baby, unsupervised.
Therapists have mastered the art of making people feel good about doing bad things. Lately, they have entered the national debate about sexting in order to tell worried and appalled parents that it’s now “normal” for their teenage daughters to send naked selfies to their friends.
One understands that at a time when everyone is sexting, therapists want to attenuate the feelings of shame that accompany this risky and dangerous action. Of course, it isn’t just therapists. Other social psychologists have done studies showing that children who sext do not seem to be more apt to suffer an early initiation into the mysteries of sexual behavior.
And yet, is this something we want to encourage?
Psychologist Elizabeth Englander writes in the Washington Post:
Here’s the bottom line: research suggests that most photos don’t end up in disasters, either socially (being passed around, teased, bullied) or criminally (being prosecuted).
If a teen sends a nude photo to a friend, how big is the risk that it will result in serious harm? Recent research is downplaying that risk. I have found that more than three-quarters of teens who sext believe their photo went to the intended recipient and no one else. These teens might be wrong and spreading photos around might be more common; but if the sender believes it has been kept private, then they probably weren’t traumatized by a mass exposure.
If three-quarters of the sexts might not have been passed around, that means that one-quarter has. That is appalling bad odds, don’t you think. It suggests a very high level of risk.
If someone recommended that you undergo a surgical procedure that will likely give you no lasting benefits and placed odds of surviving the procedure at 75%... would you do it?
As if that is not bad enough, large numbers of the girls who sext have been pressured into sending compromising pictures of their private parts. Doesn’t that resemble extortion? Is it easier or harder for a girl to refuse such pressure if she can read in the paper that sexting is now normal teenage activity?
It’s becoming increasingly clear, however, that not all sexting is about fun and games. My biggest concern is when kids under 18 – often girls – are pressured by their peers to engage in sexting that they really don’t want to do. The younger they are when they sext, the more likely they are to report that they succumbed to pressure. And that pressure isn’t rare.
Overall, about two-thirds of the teens in my research studies report that they were pressured or coerced into sexting at least some of the time. Being pressured into sexting sometimes happened within a dating relationship, or it might come from a person (usually a boy) with whom a girl wants to have a relationship. Wanting to attract that boy, and wanting to be attractive to a boyfriend or girlfriend, were the most common reasons for actually sending the photo. About 92% of the teens who were not pressured reported no problems following sexting; but that number dropped to only 68% of the teens who felt pressured into sexting.
Does this sound like harmless fun?
Perhaps children are too young to understand the risks that are entailed in social humiliation, but adults who do have a moral obligation to warn children off of this activity… not to write articles in the newspaper telling them that it's normal.
Of course, Lena Dunham is a special case. She is a celebrity. We know that celebrities live by a different set of rules. Clearly, many of them hate it when their own sexts are exposed to the public against their will, but they have a better chance of career survival than does, say, a banker or a lawyer.
Which brings us to writer Vicky Ward. Call her the voice of adult reason. If psychologist Englander cannot offer sage advice about oversharing, Ward is happy to do so. At least, someone cares about what happens to children. And not just to children.
But, Ward was not writing about children when she denounced the recent tendency for the wives of powerful businessmen, when involved in divorce cases, to try to destroy their husbands by exposing their dirty linen in public.
For some it will count as a new chapter in female empowerment. Ward sets down her rule for such situations:
… rich people get divorced quietly. It’s a simple equation. Scandal equals reputational, emotional and financial ruin—for all concerned.
Take Christina Kelly, involved in nasty divorce proceeding with her husband Sage, a banker at Jeffries and Co.
Ward reports on Mrs. Kelly’s actions:
For those who haven’t been keeping track: Mrs Kelly, 38, and her husband, the in-advisedly-named Sage, 42, head of health-care banking at Jefferies & Co, are divorcing. She alleges that he and twenty-or-so named colleagues collectively abused “alcohol, cocaine, mushrooms, Special-K, heroin.”
She also alleges that Sage, who is the father of their two daughters, aged ten and six, urinated on himself at the office annual party and elsewhere; that he defecated on himself while intoxicated and that he encouraged her to have sex with a named client while he had sex with the client’s named girlfriend. Oh, and one of their girls almost ingested cocaine left out on a pool table in their basement.
Sage and the identified colleagues have denied all of it. He has taken a leave of absence from Jefferies, which has reportedly already lost five clients. On Monday it was also reported that, in a desperate-sounding attempt at damage control, Jefferies CEO Richard Handler had taken a random drug test with the health-care bankers (all were clean)— which only added to the surreal nature of the fiasco….
But more important for Christina Kelly, whose husband earns $7 million per annum, is the loss of his earning power that her scandalous allegations may very likely cause. Injuring the family breadwinner is the same as injuring yourself.
Is there any way that this is in Mrs. Kelly’s interest? Of course not. The ensuing scandal will hurt both Kellys, to say nothing of their children. Obviously, it is not quite the same as teenage sexting, but still Mrs. Kelly’s behavior is grossly indiscreet. Some might call it the product of a maniacal will to destroy. Or course, she is expressing her anger, openly, honestly and shamelessly.
Those who recommend that people express their feelings should reconsider their bad advice.
Mrs. Kelly is manifesting a mindless rage, a will to destroy the father of your children, regardless of what it does to your life or the lives of your children. Keep that in mind. It's not just the husband who is going to suffer. So will the children whose reputations will be damaged for bearing the family name.
Despite what they are trying to tell you, overcoming shame is a bad thing.