The war on shame continues apace.
Freud launched the opening volley, but his followers have continued to fight the good fight against modesty, decorum and propriety.
Shamelessness has thus become accepted and even lauded.
We tell people to be open and honest about their sexuality. We glorify memoirists who tell their most sordid secrets. We watch more pornography than is good for us. We teach sex education to children who are too young to understand it.
We do it all because we believe that a good sex life is not only a constitutional right but the solution to all of our mental health problems.
As Camille Paglia noted, we live in a decadent culture. Unfortunately, we are not even very good at it. Witness the amateurish version of decadence in Fifty Shades of Grey.
The culture of exhibitionism took root because those who found it wrong were afraid to oppose it. They had been told that a refusal to countenance shamelessness would reveal them to be sexually repressed prudes… and worse.
Thus, everyone acquiesced, blindly. Precious few people understood that sexual desire thrives on modesty and wilts when overexposed.
After Freud launched the first attacks on modesty, others followed suit. Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt were happy to profit from it. Some feminists were appalled by the pornification of the female body, but many others encouraged women to liberate their sexuality.
Women’s liberation meant speaking openly and honestly and shamelessly about their sexuality, insisting on having their fair share of orgasms and having sex like men.
The only protection women needed was a condom.
It all led to the hookup culture and an epidemic of sexting. One hopes that adult women understand the risks in such behavior. One knows very well that teenage girls do not. Need we mention that teenage boys, as morally underdeveloped as teenage girls, cannot be trusted with sexted images of their female classmates.
Sexting took root in a culture that had overthrown the code of gentlemanly and ladylike behavior. Everyone was being encouraged to act like they did not respect themselves. The results were predictable.
While any mother with an ounce of sense is telling her teenage daughters not to sext, some women, especially of the radical feminist variety have encouraged sexting. Others have acquiesced because they believe that there is nothing they can do to stop it. Children act accordingly.
Radical feminists see sexting as the next phase of sexual liberation, a contribution to a full and rich sex life and a new form of courtship.
If a bunch of sixteen year old boys ogles the images and makes disparaging comments to the girl in question, they are abusive bullies.
No one wants to excuse boys for bullying, though one ought to notice that often the bullies are of the female persuasion.
But, no one should imagine that the girls who send out these images do not have a measure of responsibility for their behavior. Or better, their parents should feel some measure of responsibility for not having taught them the difference between shame and shamelessness.
Unfortunately, in the moral universe of feminism, women cannot even be called foolish or foolhardy. One cannot say that they might have done better not to get drunk and sleep naked with a boy. One understands that No always means No, but no sensible and caring individual should encourage young women to engage in unnecessarily reckless behaviors.
The result: more girls and young women behave recklessly and irresponsibly.
It’s almost as though radical feminists see women as victims of oppression who have the right to do whatever they please. If something bad happens, the fault lies with those moral monsters called men.
The concept can easily be applied elsewhere. Feminism offers women a life plan, a way to live their lives, to conduct their relationships and to date and mate.
Sometimes, dare we say, women who follow this feminist life plan discover that things do not work out as promised.
Who is responsible? Who is at fault?
The people who sold these plans bear some responsibility. The women who followed them freely also bear some. If things do not work out, it may be that the plan was ill-conceived.
And yet, feminists are more likely to blame men, to blame the patriarchy, to blame sexism when reality fails to correspond to their visions and dreams.
In the not-too-distant past women controlled the way people looked at them by varying their appearance. Different circumstances and different life situations required different dress codes.
Most women understand this perfectly well. The fashion industry is not short on products that allow women to define themselves as social beings in the world. That is, to expose or cover up as much or as little as they please, the better to control the way they are seen.
Now, of course, women are encouraged to dress to show how they feel about themselves. If a woman dresses like a vamp and a man gets the wrong message, if he ogles and leers, if he even tries to strike up a conversation, he is engaging in sexist abuse.
When people overcome their sense of shame, it is no longer about how you look to others but how you feel about yourself.
The result is that when a girl engages in sexting, for the purpose of expressing their affection for a boy, anything the boy does with the picture is solely his fault.
Unfortunately, the girls know that they bear some responsibility, but they are too young to know how to deal with the accompanying anguish, the sense of having failed a fundamental social responsibility: to cover one’s sex, to keep it from public view.
With adolescent sexting the war on shame has gone about as far as it can. While boys are almost as likely to sext as girls, everyone understands that images of female nakedness have far, far more value. One needs only to have a passing knowledge of the market for pornography to know which images attract the most attention.
A recent study from Great Britain has confirmed what many of us suspected. Sexting is dangerous and reckless behavior for girls. It causes extreme psychological distress and even invites bullying that compounds the distress.
The Daily Mail has the story:
Sexting and online bullying are fuelling a surge of anxiety disorders in teenagers, experts warn.
The problem is particularly severe for girls who fall victim to cruel remarks about their appearance and weight.
Figures from the Priory Group, the country's largest organisation for mental health hospitals and clinics, show admissions for anxiety in teenagers has risen by 50 per cent in only four years.
MPs and medical professionals want schools to teach children about the tragic consequences of sexting and online bullying.
Dr Natasha Bijlani, consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital Roehampton, South-West London, said: 'This relatively new phenomenon of sexting – where explicit texts and pictures are sent between smartphone devices – seems to have become endemic, and we are not sure of the long-term consequences.
'However, coupled with online bullying, we can expect an increasing number of people suffering issues of trust, shame, and self-loathing, sometimes manifesting itself in self-harming.'
She said sexting was now seen as the 'new courtship' but often had 'nightmare consequences'.
'The long-term effects of bullying can be prolonged and pervasive,' she added. 'Much more focus needs to be given to how best to educate young people about the risks of sending compromising images, and communicating with unknown others online, and how to cope with bullying via devices at school.
'Episodes in childhood are often repressed and only later in life do these issues surface in the form of depression, stress and anxiety and other serious psychological conditions.'
Jenny Edwards, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation charity, said: 'There is a need for schools to lead on promoting emotional wellbeing. We know that over half of adults with serious mental health problems were first diagnosed when children.
'But we need to recognise that while new technology may increase stress in some circumstances, it can also reduce it by creating online support and increasing access to treatment.'
Anyone who cares about the emotional well-being of girls will tell them NOT to sext. It isn’t that complicated and you won’t look uncool or Puritanical. Better yet, let's bring back the codes of gentlemanly and ladylike behavior.