What’s with the exhibitionism? How has it happened that after four decades of intense feminism, young women can’t manage to keep their clothes on? It makes it much more difficult to respect women for their minds.
Having discovered that sexting exposes them to serious risks, women have set out to find a solution.
They did not call for a return to modesty. They did not think that perhaps it was not such a good idea to share pictures of their private parts. They did not wonder whether it was a good thing to act like a wanna-be porn star. They did not question whether they had a moral obligation to provide their boyfriends with masturbation material.
They decided that since they must exercise their constitutional right to expose themselves, they should continue to do so. Only now, they would share the pictures with their girlfriends,, not boys and men.
Naturally, they needed a new name for the practice. They called it frexting— short for, friends sexting.
The pictures are more suggestive than pornographic. More often they are semi-pornographic images of girls in their underwear or lingerie.
Apparently, a girl feels a measure of safety in knowing that her BFF is not going to pass around the frext of her in her bra and panties to some random boy. And, it is less likely that a female friend will use the image as a sexual stimulant.
Undoubtedly, it is more unlikely that a girl will share a frext than that a boy will share a sext… but still… let’s not be too naïve.
Girls compete for the attention of boys. They have been known to go to great lengths to attract and hold the interest of males. Do you want to bet your self-respect on the chance that no girl will share a picture of your butt with a boy?
Today’s BFF is tomorrow’s mortal enemy.
Unfortunately, frexting has been foisted on women by other women… on feminist grounds.
When we ask why women sext?-- and now why women frext?—we answer that they are being encouraged to do so by feminists.
You see, it’s all about escaping the dread male gaze? Or else, it’s about overcoming your homophobia?
Beca Grimm explains it at Bustle:
So instead of lobbing that cleavage shot perhaps previously meant to entice your romantic partner or a new sexy conquest, you shoot the same image to a totally platonic pal. This is typically associated as behavior between lady friends (because, of all the damaging messages we’re made to internalize from a young age, self-homophobia and fear of displays of intimacy with our friends are mostly reserved for dudes. We DO have to deal with the Male Gaze sexualizing our friendships with other women, but hey, you can’t win ‘em all. At least we aren’t so paranoid about looking “gay” that we can’t have fun with a little harmless frexting….
Anyway, the whole frexting phenomenon—unlike sexting—is wholly very positive, way safer, and actually bond-strengthening. It presents you, whether you’re the frexter or frext receiver, with a really non-dangerous platform to intercept or allocate affirmation and love. It could be gauging an outside opinion about some lingerie you ordered online (guilty) or a jokey butt shot (also…guilty) or showing off a hot new yoga pose you nailed (I wish)—but one thing with frexting always applies: it isn’t meant as a segway to get laid by either party. It circles back to the true adage that women don’t dress up for dudes—it’s more for other women, and for ourselves.
In truth, shamelessness is never harmless.
Even if the images are not intended to excite, that is, are not pornographic, they are still erotic and might still be seen as a dress (or undress) rehearsal.
At best, girls send out these images in order to receive a confidence boost. They like being told by their girlfriends that they are hotter than hot.
If the images are not pornographic, that does not mean that they are not erotic. Samantha Allen believes that frexting is a form of seduction.
In Allen’s words:
In fact, it’s a near certainty that some recipients of “frexts”—one of the more grotesque plural nouns the Internet has given us—are harboring secret crushes on the very friends who are ironically sending them bathtub pics.
I don’t want to encourage the assumption that bi and lesbian women are all in love with their straight friends, but I also hate the de facto assumption of heterosexuality that is frexting.
But even if everyone participating in “frexting” is a certified Kinsey Zero, the denial of any erotic subtext to the practice feels too easy in a culture as Freudian as our own.
Numerous studies have shown that heterosexual women respond sexually to images of other women. In one 2007 experiment, Dr. Meredith Chivers and her colleagues found that heterosexual women in a small sample experienced genital arousal when watching sexual scenes no matter the gender of the actors.
Of course women have always solicited the advice of their girlfriends when it comes to their appearance. And yet, in the past the question was how they would look in public, not how they would look when they undressed in front of a man.
If frexting is supposed to be a solution to a problem, what is it supposed to solve?
Are women insecure about their ability to attract men or to sustain male interest?
Since women have been taught to abandon the trappings of femininity, are they reduced to asserting their gender in the most obvious and vulgar way?
If femininity attracts men and if women have increasingly been pushed toward a life plan that mimics a man’s, then how can they obviate the risk that their womanhood will go unnoticed.
One notes that any reference to a woman’s womanhood in the workplace is now considered to be harassment. And anyone who uses terms that are gender specific are considered to be sexist.
One feels that, what with all the sexting and frexting, women are insisting too much.
And then there’s porn. Through no fault of feminism, young women have increasingly found themselves competing for the male gaze with porn stars.
Some people have insisted that pornography is perfectly harmless and that its easy availability is a step toward sexual liberation.
Some feminists, however, have declared that it disrespects women and promotes sexual violence.
Regardless of where you stand on these issues, when men who grow up on a diet of pornography undoubtedly see women differently.
Many of them are jaded to the point where, when they look at women, they believe that they can look right through their clothing. If women want to be modest, the male gaze, warped by porn, makes it increasingly difficult.
One suspects that women who feel that men have X-ray vision feel a sense of discomfort. Given how ubiquitous porn is how many women still feel that they still possess the keys to a mystery.
Even if we understand that women want to be noticed and admired and adored by men, if we understand that most women would welcome the male gaze from the right man, we must still recognize that the male gaze can no longer be trusted.
How do women learn how to attract or not attract certain male gazes when the corrupted male gaze cannot be taken as an accurate indicator?
A woman can be perfectly attractive, even sexy and not really be noticed. She can dress herself in a way that signals a disinterest in attracting attention and receive the wrong kind of attention.
The male gaze is not infallible. Perhaps that is why women seek out the opinions of other women. Not just to puff up their self-esteem but to navigate the treacherous shoals created by a pornified culture and the ravages it has inflicted on male taste and judgment.