Wednesday, 11 November 2015

/sekstɪŋ/

And on and on the mazy dance goes. Politicians spin the media roundabout around and around and around it goes. Up come more cuts to public services. Natural disasters. Refugees. Migration both in and out. The obligatory SWERF ruining feminism for everyone. And now sexting rears its digitised head again.

There are lots of resources out there about sexting (Justin Hancock's BISH has a pretty comprehensive guide for young people which covers everything you may want to know, as well as his recent blog post). I myself wrote a blog post about sexting almost five years ago in which I claimed never to have sexted.

Which was true at the time. I have, since, done so.

Whatever it is.

As I've often said (including on Twitter, earlier today - and to my girlfriend too, verbally), a lot of the problems that come from "sexting" stem from how you interpret the word itself. The politicians and media that report upon sexting often use the word to refer to taking and sending sexually provocative images (often of oneself) via MMS (BBM, Snapchat, whatever), which obviously has its problems when it comes to young people (see BISH, above).

I mean, I've done that. I've got a picture of my torso and stomach covered in glistening cum after a long masturbation session lying on my back (I had a new phone) even though I've never shared it with anyone. I've taken pictures of my erect penis because who hasn't?, but I've only ever sent that to people (via e-mail, I took it with a webcam) with their consent. And, crucially, I'm not under 18.

But that's not what I consider sexting.

Sexting, to me, is basically cybersex via SMS. That's what I was told it was and that's what Glee says it is... and it's what I've engaged in (at least once) since 2011. In my younger, headier days, I used to have a lot of cybersex and what I liked about it was the fact that you can get someone else off with a bit of imagination and a consistent prose style - I rarely got pictures of the people I would cyber with and almost never asked; the pictures in my head were enough for me. When someone mentions sexting, this is my go-to idea.

Lightsinthesky did a presentation during A-Level Philosophy about sexual ethics and referred to cybsersex as accessing porn online, at which I wanted to scream, "THAT ISN'T WHAT CYBERSEX IS!". I didn't actually do that. Do I want to shout "THAT'S NOT WHAT SEXTING IS!" at something which I think sexting isn't?

No.

The problem with the word is that it's slightly ambiguous. It's not as clear-cut as the distinction between watching porn and having cybersex (IRC being my medium of choice, although one supposed that Skype has provision to do so, not to mention Twitter), which I've always considered to be completely different things. Sexting has become more of an umbrella term - partially due to misappropriation of the word, but mostly because there isn't a snappy synonym for "the sending and receiving of sexually explicit pictures via a mobile telecommunications device or similar, often for the purposes of biologically pleasurable acts." Really rolls off the tongue, right?

And this is the problem I have with sexting. I have nothing against the practice (with consent, of course), however you interpret it. But those standing against sexting almost always seem to show a lack of understanding due to the ambiguity of the term itself. And, if there's anything guaranteed to irk, it's being against something without considering all involved.

In many ways, it's much the same as people who rally against porn...

...whatever that is.

1 comment:

swallow said...

i still have a lot of cybersex myself, even though it was years ago that i started and things have changed a lot since then! having cybersex is my way to relax, and allows me to express myself.

unlike you i have done sexting in a cybersex-like way, without the /me command but it still seems to work well enough! this is usually with my boyfriend, though, as i'm understandably not going to give my mobile number out online!

do you have my mobile number, ILB?