Role Models, Sexting, and Child Pornography

Shout out to all of the women, across the world, using their brains, their strength, their work ethic, their talent, their ‘magic’ that they were born with, that only they possess. It may not ever bring you as much ‘attention’ or bank notes as using your body, your sex, your tits and asses, but women like you don’t need that kind of ‘attention.’

In the quiet moments, you will feel something deeper than the fleeting excitement resulting from attention; you will feel something called pride and self respect. Keep resisting the urge to cave. You’ll never have to make silly excuses for yourself.
Some time ago, the internet went into a short lived “frenzy,” as internet frenzies go, as a social media celebrity posted yet another nude picture of herself. Some people criticized her for exploiting her looks and objectifying herself while other’s applauded her bravery for embracing her body and being empowered by her sexuality. If I’m completely honest, I couldn’t have care less about the entire affair. It’s her life, her body, and her choices. Besides, I have better things to do with my time and if I’m even more honest, the modern definition of “bravery” still seems to elude me. That’s till I heard the phrase “role model for young girls” being thrown around, and I was appalled.
You may notice how I try to steer away from discussions that in any way tell women how to act or behave. I leave that kind of discussions about women and their issues to those who know more about them than I do, specifically women. But when we use terms like role models to young girls, there are plenty of fathers who need to realize the very real danger of this kind of debate. Those who have daughters need to see what society defines as applaudable behavior to women. Those who have sons need to see how society defines as worth while women.
And just as the modern definition of “bravery” seems to elude me, the definition of “role model” seems to elude so many within our society. At its simplest form, a role model is someone you try to emulate, as they represent the standard you want to achieve. They are the example of what you can become. So when we say that this woman is a role model for young girls, you are saying that young girls should emulate (read as copy) her actions. And I might here you saying that nobody can tell girls what to do with their body, as doing so would be body shaming or just plain sexist.
That’s great and all if you also took the time to tell girls (and boys) the legal consequences of taking half naked pictures of themselves! A naked pic of anyone under 18 is basically child pornography. That means anyone taking the pic, even if it’s of themselves is manufacturing child pornography from a criminal perspective. And yes…Child, under the definition of the law is anyone under 18 years of age. So that 16 year old girl taking a topless pic of herself or that 17 year old boy taking a dick pic is in fact producing Child pornography. And to those unaware of the legal consequences, this is a first degree crime; you know.. with a penalty comparable to premeditated murder.
And it gets even more interesting from there.
Having a questionable picture of a minor (even if it’s of yourself) in your phone constitutes possession of Child pornography (5 years in prison) while forwarding it (or posting it online) constitutes distribution (10 years in prison). Sending a nude pic to a minor (again, younger than 18) is exposing them to pornography and “corrupting influences,” each location having their own selection of criminal penalties. FB and Instagram banning nipple shots has nothing to do with slut shaming and everything to do with legal regulations.
The problem here is that parents want to believe that our teens are old enough to handle themselves, something our teens try to convince us about constantly. It’s that or parents don’t want to assume their obligation as parents. Pick which ever you want, the criminal system doesn’t really care. The legal system defines a child in the simplest way possible. Under 18? You’re problem, mom and dad. Oh, by the way, Social Services wants to sit down with you and chat about the kind of household you have.
Its funny how during the entire debate of whether a person can be empowered by posting their body all over the internet and how we should respect her as a role model, not once did anyone explain to young girls and boys what would happen if they did the same. Any picture with any kind of questionable content that gets posted, forwarded, or unwittingly uploaded to a cloud will last for eternity and will resurface when they can cause the most damage to a person. Ironically, this was something the celebrity mentioned she deals with every time her sex tape resurfaces, yet not once did she tell her younger followers to not do.
You don’t want something to resurface? Start by not posting it.
You might think that I’m exaggerating the repercussions, as this kind of behavior is so common place nowadays. The reality is that the laws haven’t yet caught up with social media and phone trends. Sure, courts might be lenient if they understand that this was a dumb kid making a dumb mistake. Other times they might not and make an example of the youth.
That doesn’t get us, as parents, off the hook for not teaching our kids the consequences of their actions, online and offline. We need to understand that even if it’s their phone, it’s our legal responsibility how they use it. We need to be more selective on who we assign the label of role model. Most importantly, it’s our job to teach our kids that if they ever want respect, they first have to respect themselves.