Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Ubiquity of Sexting

Fair enough, women want to be respected for their minds, not their sex. As it happens, men are not really respected for their minds or their sex. They are respected for their status, prestige and wealth.

Being respected for your mind does not make you more like a man. It’s a bad idea to draw specious analogies between men and women… but you knew that already.

Anyway, respecting a human being means seeing him or her as a social being. That means, clothed. Admittedly, we are all born naked and the absence of clothing tends to equalize us all. This merely tells us that the ideal of total and utter equality is unrealistic, counterproductive and anti-social. Besides, once everyone starts sharing pictures of their private parts human beings will instantly start judging... even making aspersions. Would you rather be judged by the appearance of your genitalia or your accomplishments. You have far more control over the latter than you do over the former.

Or, as we like to say, being a respected human being begins with learning how to keep your pants on. You cannot be judged by the content of  your character if you are showing off the contents under your pants.

This means, as a universal truth, that we do not identify people by the appearance of their external genitalia. We identify them by their faces, not their sex. I’m sure that you knew that already.

That is, we all have a sense of shame. A sense of shame means that we do not publicize our private parts. We do not expose them to public view and do not risk exposing them. We do not undress in front of open windows in large cities, because we do not want to risk such exposure.

Until recently having a sense of shame was a good thing. It was a sign of good character, of trustworthiness. It induces people to improve their character. If you cannot keep your privates secret why should I expect that I can speak with you in confidence.

And yet, our therapy culture, in another spasm of incoherent thinking, has decided that shame is bad. Why? Because it feels bad. Therefore, that it must be abolished.  You can see the level of intellectual sophistication that goes into this thought. How can we do away with shame? You guessed it: by encouraging people to be open and honest about their sexuality, to put it on public display.

And yet, the anti-shamers insist, with some reason, that it is bad to run around shaming people. It is bad to mock people for their defects or deformities. It is bad to call them out for being overweight or for being sexually promiscuous. Calling someone a slut is one thing. Choosing not to associate with her is quite another.

Why is that so? Simply put, because it’s rude. It’s rude to ridicule people in public. It shows that you do not have a sense of shame. If you do not have good character you cannot be inducing people to improve theirs.

Rudeness makes people angry and makes them want to retaliate. This does not mean that said people ought not to be nudged in the direction of recognizing their dereliction, based on their own moral sense. Keeping your distance from someone who misbehaves or who is untrustworthy is not the same thing as humiliating them in public.

Weaponizing shame only happens when people do not have a sense of shame.  When you systematically humiliate government officials, as happened in the Chinese Cultural Revolution, you are trying to diminish their self-respect of their victims, thus, to undermine their sense of shame. And to make them more like you.

Anyway, nowadays young people have developed the habit of sending pictures of their genitalia to their friends and lovers. Since they no longer practice dating or courtship habits, they seem to want to invent new ways to get to know each other and to demonstrate their commitment. The practice of sexting is apparently ubiquitous. Everyone does it, so it must be alright. A minimum level of adult reasoning will cause alarm bells to start ringing in your mind. Today, however, we need research reports to prove the point.

A new article in PsyPost reports on a study conducted by Michelle Drouin and colleagues. It you thought that America’s young generation was in trouble, this study will confirm your suspicions:

Past research has found that more than eight out of 10 people are sexting. Now psychologists are investigating the positive and negative consequences of using your phone to send sexually suggestive or nude images of yourself.

The study, published in the scientific journal Computers in Human Behavior, found that sexts sent in casual relationships tend to have more negative outcomes — among other findings.

The study attempts to quantify the positive and negative effects of this activity. It bases its conclusions on a series of questionnaires, so we will take it with a grain or two of salt. Besides, if you thought that this activity could have a positive emotional outcome you need plenty of help yourself.

The report continues:

“In general, I am interested in the ways in which technology is affecting individuals and relationships,” explained the study’s corresponding author, Michelle Drouin of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Astonishingly, both male and female students indulge in this activity. Some reported positive emotional outcomes, while many reported negative outcomes:

Drouin and her colleagues found that 58% of college students admitted to sending a sext and 62% admitted to receiving one. Most began sexting as minors. Men were more likely to report that their last sexting partner was a casual partner, while women were more likely to report their last sexting partner was a committed partner.

About half of the participants who had sexted reported that it resulted in positive sexual or emotional consequences, but a large number of participants also reported negative consequences.

“People may be motivated to send sexually-explicit picture or video messages to their romantic partner because they think it is fun or flirtatious or they want to please their partners. In fact, when we ask them, these are young adults’ most commonly cited motivations for sexting,” Drouin explained to PsyPost.

One does not quite understand why these young people are competing with porn stars, why they seem to assume that if their lovers do not have pictures of them in all their naked glory they will be drawn to similar images of porn stars. Is this the ultimate sign of true love-- allowing your lover to masturbate to your image. In one way sexting shows what happens when the therapy culture declares war on shame. In another, it shows what happens when a culture is pornified.

We must consider the fact that many of these pictures do not remain safely ensconced in a single iPhone. Some of them are passed around the locker room or the reading group. Many of those who sext began doing so when they were in high school or even junior high school. Children who did not understand what shame was and who are unable to deal it with found themselves overexposed, humiliated and demeaned.

Does this mean that we have definitively destroyed the feminine mystique? Does it mean that we must appear to each other without the least pretense of having any self-respect at all? And what about the men who seem to feel that they must show off their manly endowments to the world, lest someone actually care about what they are making of their lives? Isn’t there something demeaning about all this?

Drouin and her colleagues tried to measure the trauma factor in this activity:

“However, many people experience regret or worry about the pictures they have sent to recent partners, and some even report discomfort and trauma at the time they sent the pictures. Most importantly, women and those who send these sexual images to casual sex partners report fewer relationship benefits (emotional or sexual) and more relationship detriments associated with the sexting than those who send them to committed partners.”

Of course, this is all traumatic. It diminishes people, removes them from their social matrix and treats them like sexual objects.

You’ve come a long way, baby!


James said...

A facet of this. About two hundred years ago we came up with a way to send symbols (morse code) to each other by electricity. About a hundred years later we advanced to being able to talk to each other directly (telephone) by electricity. Another hundred years later we are now sending symbols (texting) to each other again. Love progress.

n.n said...

Sexting has more or less been normalized. What lies beneath is truly weird and depraved.

The problem is obviously that religious/moral philosophy created a social climate that did not reward male and female sexual license. So, we'll have several generations of men and women executing their liberties, treating unwanted babies/preexisting conditions, in rebellion to real and perceived archaic, post-conventional, norms.

This is [unqualified] progress or monotonic change similar to recurring economic resets (e.g. depression, recession), and sexual license follows a multidecadal anthropogenic amoral progression. We're due for another economic and sexual reset, where people discover religion, principles, and babies, too.

Ares Olympus said...

PsyPost: Past research has found that more than eight out of 10 people are sexting. Now psychologists are investigating the positive and negative consequences of using your phone to send sexually suggestive or nude images of yourself.

When I see the word sext I always assume this is like flirting with sexually explicit language using written words, like girly romance novels, but might lead to imminent action in real life.

This subject seems very confusing if we're assuming it means sexually explicit pictures of one's self.

Clearly we need a different word here. It might be a sexy-selfie. Perhaps we could call it a sexfie?

If people are being surveyed and don't know exactly what's be asked, we actually have no information here.