Adults are prone to create myths about the meaning of adolescence. – Louise J. Kaplan
One year ago today I wrote about those who want to “rescue” whores from lives they consider “degrading”, “disgusting”, “filthy”, “sinful”, etc. This desire is, of course, based in what I referred to as the “bizarre yet prevalent notion that sex is somehow intrinsically different from every other human activity even when it has no chance of resulting in pregnancy.” The rescuers believe whores to be victims, helpless and incompetent to make our own decisions; in that respect they lump us together with adolescents, another group commonly believed to be childlike and unable to understand the terrible “danger” of human sexuality.
I’d be the last person to deny that there is as much danger in sexual relations as there is in any human interaction; when strong emotions are involved, are any of us safe? But that’s not what the sexophobes are afraid of; they seem to believe that there is a magic, contaminating aura to sex itself, and that even looking at or sharing “dirty pictures” can somehow damage the imaginary “innocence” of teenagers. I often wonder if the adults who believe in this “innocence” are suffering from some form of amnesia or delusion; don’t they remember what they were like as teens? Yet they insist on mouthing these ridiculous platitudes about “childhood” and “innocence” when talking about a time period when they were fooling around in the backseats of cars, trying to get liquor with fake IDs and smoking cigarettes because they thought it made them look “cool”. And that’s not even counting the drugs; whereas 54% of American high school seniors in 1979 reported having used them, only 38% do now; if anything, the now-adults who were teenagers back then should have fewer illusions about teen innocence. But no; instead they prefer to construct this elaborate pretense of teenage innocence, then persecute real teenagers for daring to shatter it.
Note that in this Huffington Post article from August 18th, the dysphemism “ring”, which usually means “suppressed business”, is instead bizarrely employed to mean “group of friends”:
Nearly two dozen Vermont teenagers were involved in a sexting ring in which two of them used school-issued computers to access indecent photos and videos of female classmates, police said Thursday. Five boys admitted viewing 30 to 40 images and three videos, many of which were sent by cellphone…[and] two of the boys used school-issued laptop computers to access and distribute the images…The girls took photos of themselves and sent them to the boys, who forwarded them to the shared email account, Milton Police Detective Cpl. Paul Locke said…17 girls aged 14 to 17 were in the photos…”Technically a majority is considered child pornography because it is indecent material of a juvenile,” he said.
Former Milton School Superintendent Martin Waldron has said that school officials became aware of the case on Feb. 17, when a student who felt victimized came forward with “concerns about distribution of inappropriate pictures.” School officials then heard from more students and turned the case over to police…All of the teens had taken responsibility for what they had done…[and] will not face criminal charges but must attend mandatory sessions with a community justice board…
Prosecutor T.J. Donovan said he thought the punishment should be educational not punitive. “I think it’s incumbent on us to educate them about frankly the consequences [sic] of their actions,” he said. “When you send these images out, you lose control of them and there’s going consequences [sic]… and we really need to educate young people about frankly [sic] some of the dangers of technology”…Vermont passed a law in 2009 that permits prosecutors to send teenage cell phone “sexting” cases to juvenile courts to eliminate the stigma of child pornography convictions.
While I’m glad to see Vermont has recognized that convicting teenagers for “child pornography” is both insane and evil, these people are still guilty of treating normal teenage sexual experimentation as a “crime”. The grammatically-challenged prosecutor also seems impaired in the logic department; from what I can see, the only “consequences” of their actions (aside from the snitch’s changing her mind after choosing to participate) resulted from busybody adults criminalizing natural adolescent behavior.
I’ll leave you with this great cartoon from Kevin Moore’s In Contempt; he also calls attention to three older but still good articles: Judith Levine’s “What’s the Matter With Teen Sexting?” on The American Prospect, Dahlia Lithwick’s “Textual Misconduct” on Slate, and Tracy Clark-Flory’s “The New Pornographers” on Salon.