Nude selfies are in the news. Today, 22 school kids on the Gold Coast have been suspended for sharing inappropriate images of teenage school girls.
Last week, a website with more than 2,000 graphic images of female high school students was shut down. It was a forum where high school boys and men were uploading, sharing and “rating” images of girls without their consent.
One school in Victoria was reported to have called all girls from Year 7 to Year 10 into a meeting to discuss the online abuse. In the same meeting they urged girls to refrain from sending sexy selfies, and reminded them to wear their skirt below their knee.
The reaction to this news has been resoundingly clear:
Girls, stop sending nude or sexualised pictures to young men. Who knows where they might end up.
And you know what? That is exactly what someone from an older generation would say. Someone who doesn’t understand how modern-day relationships work.
Those offering their wisdom on teen relationships may question why anyone would want to send images of their breasts or vagina or full naked body. Because, out of context, the behaviour seems bizarre. Foreign. Dangerous. The same way sex before marriage once seemed strange and risky.
The sexy selfie is just another generation of sexual exploration. (Image: iStock)
But when you've grown up with an iPhone in your hand, sending a sexy selfie only seems like second nature.
Every other aspect of young adult lives are online. Our work, our education, our friendships, our what-time-will-you-be-home-for-dinner-family-communication. There is no aspect of our lives that is not, somehow, connected through social media or the internet.
So why not our sexuality?
Sending nude selfies is the modern-day equivalent of trying to French kiss for the first time. Or fondling a first boyfriend under the duvet trying to be quiet while your parents are downstairs.
This exploration and sexual discovery has been the realm of teenagers and young adults forever. The sexy selfie is just another generation of this.
Yes, young women should take measures to protect themselves. These choices - to explore and to be safe - are choices young girls have to make in every part of their sexual lives. When to have sex for the first time, and who with. When to start dating, and who with. When to share images like this, and who with.
The real face of the millennial. Post continues below video.
But young women should not be shamed or fearful of these images. They should feel free, and protected, to send them in a loving, trusting relationship.
The onus is on young men, who've been trusted with these pictures, to take responsibility.
They are the ones who should be receiving the advice, asked the questions. Told to stop. Laws should be extended to help make them stop.
Most importantly, these young men should be afraid of the repercussions. (Repercussions beyond school suspension also need to exist).
They should be taught that sharing an image of a woman with out her consent is no different to taking advantage of a woman without her consent. The screen doesn't change anything.
The motivation behind sending a selfie is understandable.
The motivation behind sharing these images is what's dangerous.
I know that it's risky. That mothers, you want your children to make smart decisions. That the hurt and anguish and repercussions of having a sexy selfie shared online can be devastating. That the easiest way to make it stop is to ask girls to stop sending them.
But girls aren't going to stop sending explicit images.
They shouldn't have to.