Warning This Post Is Sex-plicit

When most of us think of a “sex offender,” we think of child molesters, serial rapists, and some sketchy guy spiking the drink of a young coed. The title of sex offender more than likely triggers a connection to the darkest corners of our minds. Scrolling through a list of nearby sex offenders sends a chill down the spine as we visualize the dark and sinister “do you want some candy little girl,” nightmare. When I hear the words sex offender I think—traumatic, horrifying, vile, disgusting, violating. The crimes that fall under those words should most certainly be subject to harsh penalties, life sentences, and perhaps even new legislation involving castration.

The trouble with the sentencing of sexual crimes arises when all sex crimes are created equal. Its no secret that there has been a great deal of debate in regards to statutory rape. It is not uncommon to hear about a seventeen and a half year old girl having a twenty year old boyfriend who ended up on the sex offender list because her parent’s and the courts are legally allowed to overlook the fact that both individuals openly admitted to having consensual sex. I have even found myself joking to my brothers about carding girls they date, just to be on the safe side.

While examples such as the one above have sparked debate for quite awhile, a more technological driven offense has taken over center stage when it comes to classifying and prosecuting sexual crimes. The media has been wildly covering the hot topic of “sexting.” Sexting involves sending sexually explicit material via text messages to other mobile phone users. Currently teens across America are finding themselves added to a long list of sex offenders for sexting to other teens photos of themselves.

Now, here is the point where we should all ask ourselves, does a seventeen year old girl or guy deserve to be labeled as a sex offender for sending a nude picture of their ass to another seventeen year old girl or guy? In the age of Myspace, Facebook, and Youtube, many would argue that behavior such as sexting is simply an extension of the culture in the present times. I tend to agree with that theory. Do I advocate an 8 year old sending nude pictures to, well anyone? Absolutely not, but I am definitely not on the bandwagon with kids having cell phones below driving age to begin with.

There tends to be a great deal of “gray area,” when it comes to sexually offensive crimes. So I want to pose a few questions to all of you. To simplify this I would like to post a list:

  • How should our society view teen sexual activity?
  • What sort of changes should be made to our legal system in regards to sexual misconduct?
  • Do you think it appropriate that individuals in similar situations to the sexting scenario above be labeled sex offenders the same as the likes of child rapists and serial rapists?

It should be interesting to get feedback on this subject. I find myself increasingly disturbed by our legal system and the actions of prosecutors dealing with these cases, but because there are moral and ethical concerns raised by each of these issues it is rather difficult to determine the appropriate course of action. I intend to write a follow up post on this subject and specifically abstinence only sex education programs. Stay tuned.

eelliso1 is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.



Filed under philosophy

6 responses to “Warning This Post Is Sex-plicit

  1. Soahki

    I have a question. Are the teen “sexters” sending unsolicited nude photos of themselves to people who don’t want to receive them? Are they spamming others with their naked pics, or are they sharing them with those who have expressed interest? I wasn’t sure if they were harrassing others with their pictures, or if the pictures were requested and… err… enjoyed.

  2. eelliso1

    That question in general tends to be irrelevant from the stand point of the law. I guess the big problem here is you are relying on people’s opinions on whether or not it was offensive, unwanted etc. Same as any other sexual crime, I am just a little bit perturbed that there is little to differentiate from this time of sexual offense versus a violent rape when evaluating sex offender registries. My biggest concern is over those seventeen year olds who were sending nude pictures mutually/consensually. Which by the way they are considering legislation to prosecute anyone who sends those sort of materials to cell phones regardless of consent or legal age etc. because of a few things. Number one, there is no telling what unsuspecting individual may stumble upon said cell phone and view the photos and number two, the wireless networks themselves are not necessarily private.

    Who will monitor the transmission of these photos?

    Who will decide which are sexually offensive and which are not?

  3. jakefunc

    The issue really comes down to the way the law is interpreted. A constructionalist would look at the text of the law. A ‘literal’ interpretation would not make an exception for someone based upon their age: it is meant to protect minors against sexual exploitation—period, regardless of who is sending or receiving the material.

    An activist would look at the ‘intent’ of the law, which in my opinion, and the opinion of other activists, would be to protect minors against sexual exploitation from adults. Minors sending explicit material to one another would not be prosecuted as ‘sex offenders’.

    Might make you think twice next time you vote for a judge.

  4. davidrsheehan

    There’s the added technological issue – it’s very hard to completely wipe most cell phones. So even though girl a who sexts her boyfriend b and they’re both 17 and consensual, doesn’t mean A’s creepy, lurking uncle’s friend can’t access it.

    To answer your questions.

    1) I think our society looks at teen sex activity like most other sex activity: as something to shush about, raise fire and brimstone over when there’s a problem; and try not to think about (the ostrich syndrome?).

    2) Changes to legal system: gosh, that’s a tough one and I don’t think there’s an easy answer. In general, I’m a supporter of EDUCATION (which relies on parents) and opening up the topic. If we embraced sex as a part of life (and instead focused on preventative health measures, regular tests and screening, and educated kids on safe, practical behavior), it’d be less of a taboo thing that teens want to try for the lure of doing something “wrong”. Sure, there’ll still be plenty of hormones flinging around, but if we actually covered our bases, I think we’d be in better shape. The abortion-only policy is ridiculous, outdated, and a bygone idea from an era that didn’t have ubiquitous technology.

    3) the title of “sex offender” in general is a slippery slope. Not sure I can lay much claim to knowingo n this one.

  5. When I first heard about “sexting” (wow, I hate that term) in a news-context, I wrote it off as the fear-mongering media’s latest answer to the swine flu and “turrist attacks.” Since the topic was raised, however, I may as well sound off.

    For starters, as long as we continue basing our social mores on the antiquated and laughable Judeo-Christian sexual ethic, our youth will be plagued by sexual misinformation at the hands of otherwise well-meaning teachers, preachers, and parents. This stuff has got to go.

    On a political level, this topic raises issues of paternalism in contemporary legislation. At what point does it become the state’s right, or even the state’s business, to enforce one moral bias or another on its constituents? If it is the prerogative of the state to enforce sexual mores on unwilling citizens, the term “sex offender” may one day become synomymous with “freedom fighter.”

    Humorously enough, it all comes back to who is having sex and how – i.e., parents who are unwilling or unable to address these matters with their children continuing to pop out brood and subsequently wax negligent to its proper development.

    Also, I believe Dave means “abstinence only,” and not “abortion only,” although neither makes any damn sense. Hilarious mental picture, that one.

  6. Po

    Ok, where was “sexting” at when I was a teen?

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