Feelpinions

In praise of sexting

It has come to our attention here at Limited News that media coverage of sexting (sending photos, messages or videos of pants feelings and actions between digital communication devices) has been disproportionately, ridiculously one sided. According to the serious experts in scaremongering, it’s dangerous, it’s shameful and it’s ruining sexy, sexy young lives. In the interests of this website maintaining its reputation as the fair and balanced leader in modern Australian feelpinions, here are some of the best arguments in favour of sexting.

It’s (comparatively) safe sex.
For a generation who grew up having AMF bowling birthday parties in the shadow of the Grim Reaper, the omnipresent threats of STDs and HIV loomed over us long before we even had a clue that sex is more than smooshing Barbies together. While being lucky enough to have more contraceptive options than any other youngs before, we also inherited from the ‘free love’ generation a neverending stream of reminders about how sex can maim, shame or destroy our lives.

So the first great thing about sexting is that there’s NO TOUCHING required. You can conduct an entire sexting relationship in a room alone with your phone amp; never have to worry about getting pregnant or AIDS or Michael Douglas face ever in your life (sure, you’d be the sexual equivalent of Bubble Boy and miss out on the joys of real sexing, but hey, it’s your party, baby).

It’s good for your body image.
Many a word has been spent on how damaging the constant stream of photoshopped, professionally lit, styled, made up and food deprived celebrities we’re shown are to our self-esteem. It’s natural to compare 120 page glossy magazines and every TV show ever and a 90-minute movie to the standard lighting of yourself in your bedroom mirror and think, “Wow – I am a troll who is going to die alone under an abandoned regional bridge.”

But here’s the thing: your camera phone gives you those same magical superpowers (well, a cheaper, one-handed version thereof). When you take your own photo, you have time to create the lighting, choose your best angle, delete the ugly shots and frame yourself in the hottest way possible. Hate your fat arse? Take a shot of your boobs! Hate your boobs? Take a shot of your hot arse! You’re Beyonce and her entire team of support staff all in the privacy of your own home.

Anyway, here’s the really brilliant part: in the same way seeing forty five pictures of Christina Hendricks looking smouldering convinces your brain that Christina Hendricks is inherently damn hot 24-7-365, seeing your own hot pictures makes your brain realise that YOU TOO are pretty damn hot from certain angles too. I’ll be honest, I have an arts degree, but that sounds like pretty solid science to me. And it definitely works. Sexting has taught me that there are more parts of my body that I genuinely like than ones that I hate. As anyone who isn’t Scarlett Johansson or Ryan Gosling knows, that’s some serious progress from thirty years of looking in the mirror and wishing things were otherwise.

And sure, we shouldn’t need someone else to tell us we’re sexy to know it and yes, perhaps don’t take all your clothes off at once and then say, “Siri, paint me like one of your girls” the first time around. Try it with just a few pictures of your face. Fully dressed pics. You know, gateway selfies (not a euphemism) In fact, if you prefer, don’t even send them to anyone. In the seventies, feminists encouraged women to learn about their lady parts using a hand mirror. We’re in the 21st century now and I say, get out that iPhone.

Sexting makes you a better communicator.
While many people thinking sexting is just nude pics, it’s also words: SMS, DMs, Facebook chat; in every way that words are communicated with electricity and buttons, people are making sex words. Because you have to use either words or pictures, you have the chance to articulate thoughts, ideas and feelings that are often silenced in the physical act of just having sex. This way, you glean a better understanding of your sexuality in the process of teasing it out with your sexting parter. It teaches you how to be receptive and perceptive about your partner’s fantasies, as well as how to articulate your own. You learn the language of someone you like, you teach them your own and together you create the one you share with one another. It’s human bonding 101 and it’s good for the soul.

Having said that: it doesn’t mean it isn’t a process, with some successes and some awkward (and hopefully hilarious) failures. Just like actors have writers, you have urban dictionary and Google and time to read back and edit before you hit send. You can think twice about saying, “Sex with you was so great it’s like I have an awesome form of PTSD”, for example, which sounds like a great compliment before you send it but may not necessarily be received as such (you know… apparently).

It’s a healthy (relatively) risk free way to explore your sexuality.
We often hear about the “disturbing sexualisation of our young girls :(” or “our boys looking at hardcore pornography on the Internets before they’ve even kissed a girl!!!!!” (say it in the voice of Reverend Lovejoy’s wife on The Simpsons for full effect). The age-old compunction to stop kids from getting pregnant the minute they hit puberty along with our general discomfort with talking about sex (with some added persistent antiquations courtesy of patriarchy and religion) mean if we’re not telling young folks that sex is bad, we’re not saying anything about it at all. Combine all that with the still prevalent idea that all boys all want sex all the time and girls prefer talking about their feelings and you have a pretty messed up environment in which sexuality is meant to develop.

Sexting is a great way to learn what you like and what you don’t like without the pressures that often come with nightclub dance floors/backyard parties/terrible, awkward dates. Because you’re essentially alone, you have time to think about what’s happening: consider what you enjoy doing, what you are interested to try, what makes you uncomfortable and what you don’t like. While you’re learning about your partner, you are also learning about yourself, which, while sounding super nerdy and Oprah-ish at the same time, is actually really valuable information. Understanding what sex/relationship/life/experiences you actually want and need to be happy and having a partner who is capable of the same: fucking score, right?

Sexting is immediate, personalised erotic literature/porn, made just for you.
Whether you’re regularly maxing out your internet data on Pornhub or just read the first chapter of “The Godfather” for that weird wedding sex scene a few times at school, most people have consumed some form of erotic culture or another. Mostly, though, you’re reading it and thinking “wow it’s like this middle aged Mormon has never even had sex with a sparkly dominant vampire” or “gosh, the dead eyes of that immigrant slave porn star are a bit of a bonerkiller”.

The joy of sexting is that those distractions just don’t exist. This is sexy stuff made just for you! Obviously, like in any dating/relationship, there’s the odd encounter with someone who only wants you to send photos of your feet/armpit/toilet bowl (which might not be your style, no shaming here, I’m just using examples)… but the odds are pretty good that if you find someone like-minded, you could be receiving exactly the sexy stuff you like, any time of the day or night. At home in bed! At your desk at work! Hiding in the bathroom from your extended family arguing about aged care options! Seriously, it’s a service people usually pay $9.95 a minute for – but even better, because this person actually likes you (or hates you, once again; it’s your party, buddy).

australian

It’s fun. It’s really, really fun.
For all the highfalutin explaining, sexting is just great fun. It’s easy, as an adult, to find yourself speeding through life as fast as possible and reducing your interactions – with family, strangers, work colleagues – to their transactional minimums: I need this thing so I will do this other thing. But what gets lost in there is the chance to be playful and silly and adventurous and feel alive to the excitement and possibilities and spark that make life so exciting. That’s why it’s so much fun hanging out with little kids – it’s just about being in the moment and playing at whatever feels like the most fun in the moment. So it is with sexting. It’s ridiculously exciting to pick up your phone when it beeps and not know whether it’s a text about dinner or a sexy snapchat. It gives your life that distinctive, electrifying jolt borne of the most thrilling of all the human urges and allows you the chance to be playful where the rest of the world is serious. What’s not to love?

N.B. Some caveat sextors as part of this Limited News patented harm minimisation approach to sexting:

If you are under 18, sexting is a crime under Australian law. Like, properly illegal, the law considers it either an “indecent act” or “child pornography”. So… you know. “Jail or sex offender registry” because nudes sounds pretty fucking awful so stay in school with your pants on, ok.
The golden rule of sexting, like any kind of sexual activity, really, is that if you feel pressured or uncomfortable or uncertain, don’t do it. It’s easy to think that maybe once you get into it that the uncomfortable feeling will pass, or perhaps it’ll make them like you more, or bring you closer or whatever. But if your gut says it feels wrong, even just a little bit way down in the back there, behind your lunch: don’t do it.
As with any kind of sexual malarkey there will always be jerks who put the pressure on, but let me save you the trouble of finding out yourself: if you don’t trust them before you sext them, the feeling will be multiplied several dozen times over once they possess naked pictures/videos/etc. And yeah, they can promise they’ll delete it, which helps at the time, but then a couple of years later they might make a joke about how they didn’t delete it even though they live overseas and are now married to a woman who reminds you of Ann Veal but less memorable and that weird and gross feeling will get bigger and stay there in the back of your guts forever. This is the only time I suggest and mean the phrase “just say no”. If you are scared of making it awkward, you can always get inspired by champions like this guy.
Following on from that, if you’re going to send pictures, use Snapchat. I know, I know, people can take screenshots, but the app will tell you so you can cut them off from the tap of your sweet, sweet pics – and on the off chance that your sexting partner gets arrested for a federal crime, a government computer nerd can spend three days hacking their Android phone for the data (or just call the perves at the NSA – hi guys: GET YOUR HANDS ABOVE THE DESK, DOUCHEBAGS), but it’s a calculated risk, along with…
If you’re worried about the above, follow the pre-Snapchat rule: only have your face OR your body in shot. Gives you plausible deniability. You’re welcome.
Don’t sext random people – it’s the digital equivalent of opening your raincoat and flashing kiddies at your local park. Find a willing partner, slip into something more comfortable with a flirty friend, but don’t get all chat roulette with strangers; no one wants to see that shit.
Keep up your emotional checks and balances. It’s exciting and fun especially when you get on a roll with a great sexting partner, but since you’re probably not going to have a post-game post mortem over room service and some bad TV, make sure you check in with yourself and how you feel about everything afterwards. It just helps you to know what your limits are and not allow yourself to get pushed past them in the heat of the moment next time.
Finally, the last, and probably best reason that sexting is awesome is because:

Fuck the man (figuratively and literally)
Most of the scaremongering about sexting comes from the supposition that you will thoughtlessly sext some random dipshit and they will share it with their dipshit friends and it will “be on the Internet forever and your reputation will be ruined”. But fuck that noise. Firstly, those stories only seem to apply to girls – we never hear about a man who’s sexted someone, had it shared against his will and has then been “too ashamed to face his friends”. Why? Because sex is fine for men, but we’re weird when women are the same. Wanting and having sex is a perfectly natural part of adult life, so fuck it (yes), let’s make it fine for women, too. What sense is there in being ashamed of having a body and enjoying it? What sort of idea of a reputation is built on the idea that liking sex makes you a bad person? A sexist and antiquated one, that’s what.

While sex is a private matter, it’s not something we have to deny ourselves while pretending to be robot people underneath our work clothes. Literally every single human in the entire world has a body (except for Julie Bishop and Christopher Pyne who are obviously a pair of fembots sent from the future to kill us all). And within a fairly small margin, we all have most of the same parts. If you follow the tips from above, your risk factors of getting publicly shamed for being a normal adult are probably lower than those of getting busted making out in the back row of the cinema. Also, haven’t you people seen Strictly Ballroom? We can’t live our lives in fear, Scott!

So here’s the grace note: the more people who sext, the less shameful these fear mongering scaredy pants can pretend it is. It’s like the end of V for Vendetta, but with vaginas and dicks and selfies with awesome cleavage. Your sexual freedom and your happiness are powerful political acts and hot. Damn hot. So hop to it, sexy.

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