Sexting is the new phone sex – come to think of it, phone sex was probably the new love letter back in the day. A sext can take many forms. It’s an amorphous concept that could be a super sexy emoji (eggplant, anyone?), or an erotically charged note full of dirty similes and metaphors. The most infamous kind of sext, however, is by far “The Naked Selfie.”
Ah yes, the moment humans put cameras on phones, it was inevitable that we would use them to send pictures of their genitalia. And, while it’s not for everyone, there are countless people who consider sexting a way to foster intimacy, to titillate, or to bridge the distance in long-distance relationships.
Not only are there several practical applications for the sext, but, based on the data, it’s clear a lot of us are doing it. Approximately half of adults send sexual messages and/or pictures using their phones. Sexting is an entrenched part of twenty-first century sexuality. So I would say it’s here to stay. But are you sexting the safe way?
For the past few years, there has been a veritable moral panic surrounding sexting. Research suggests teenagers are texting up a storm these days, and many of those texts are photos of a sexual nature. In fact, the latest research suggests one in every four teens is getting “sext-y” with their smartphone. The Rise of Sexting in teenage circles has parents in a frenzy, fearing naked images of their high schoolers might leak online for the entire world to see. Given the propensity of some spurned lovers to turn old sexts into so-called “Revenge Porn,” it’s not hard to see why parents are concerned.
And it’s not just parents who are concerned. The rise of sexting has left local Sex Ed curricula scrambling to catch up. In my home of Ontario, where our Sex Ed curriculum is famously inclusive and admirably progressive, they teach an abstinence-only approach to sexting.
However, when has an abstinence-only education ever worked? It’s never prevented coitus, and it won’t prevent your teen from looking at their boyfriend’s testicles on a screen. Telling people to abstain from sexting is about as realistic a pronouncement as telling them to abstain from watching Netflix. Sooner or later, they’re going to get bored (and horny). However, we can both teach teens and adults alike how to send sexts as safely and consensually as possible.
Just like using condoms can protect your physical health during a hookup, there are ways to reduce your risk while sexting. That’s why we’ve prepared this handy checklist for the next time you’re considering sending someone a picture of your dick.
1. Keep Your Most Identifiable Features Out of The Photo
If you’re in the market to send a sext, consider obscuring your face in the photo. Masks are useful tools, or perhaps you could blur your visage out using photoshop. A strategy I often recommend is to snap yourself from the neck down. Sure, the eyes may be the window to your soul, but there’s no need to include them.
Remember, as long as you do not send a full body and face pic, it’s difficult for anyone to definitively identify you. The same goes for any distinctive features like distinctive tattoos or birthmarks.
2. Avoid Identifiable Locations
Similar to how it’s helpful to keep your face out of a sext, it’s safer not to take sexy selfies in locations that could be tied back to you. Avoid capturing your kitchen backsplash or family photos in the background. When sexting is concerned, close-ups are your friend!
3. Snapchat Is a Valuable Tool
Snapchat isn’t just for putting adorable cat ears on your selfies, it’s also a great harm reduction tool where sexting is concerned. Images sent via Snapchat will self-destruct after a length of time chosen by you, the sender. You could make the image available for only a few seconds to minimize the chance of the recipient having time to take a screenshot.
Another cool thing about Snapchat is that it notifies you as soon as someone screen grabs one of your messages, which is super helpful when it comes to sexting. This means you’ll know immediately if the recipient of a saucy picture has abused your trust. Knowledge is power! And you can call someone out for being creepy – and threaten to expose them to the authorities should they share it online.
Consider a policy of only sexting partners who’ll sext you back. I know, it can feel crass to treat sex acts as tit for tat (literally, in this case). However, if you and a lover both have naked pics of each other, it prevents a sexual power imbalance.
RELATED: 5 Sexting Rules
5. Learn About Local Revenge Porn Laws Before Sexting
Even when you follow the previous tips to a T, things won’t always go according to one’s sextual plan. So empower yourself by reading up on the revenge porn laws in your jurisdiction. Familiarize yourself with your rights. Think of it as sexual self-care, the way you would educate yourself on STI prevention, or where to buy the Plan B pill. In the unfortunate event of a sext going public, it’s best to know your options already. That way, you can leap into action. Justice for revenge porn survivors can definitely be possible. But you’re far more likely to receive it when you’re in the position to self-advocate.
6. Always Make Sure Your Sexting Is Consensual
Consent should apply to sexting just the way it does to physical sex acts. Any woman with a Tinder account knows how violating it feels to receive an unwanted dick pic. You may be proud of your hot bod, but make sure someone actually wants to see it before hitting send on your phone. You wouldn’t show your genitals to random passersby on the street. We in polite society know that kind of inappropriate exposure can be scarring for those who see it. Well, seeing an unsolicited ass or penis isn’t magically made more palatable because you slapped the Valencia filter on it. Make sure every sext you send is a wanted one.