Over a few dry martinis this weekend, my girlfriend gave me some insight into a guy she had been chatting up on Tinder. He got an A for witty banter, he was understatedly handsome and very charismatic – they were set to meet for a drink on Saturday night. That is, until the inevitable question from said charmer: send me a nude pic? Obviously, her self conscious fuckboy-alarm went off. The question I pose, as I did to my friend, is should it?
When we think of sexting, we think of teenagers sending weird shots of their erections to each other, and dirty words corrupting blue and grey speech bubbles. Most certainly, we think of being out of our comfort zones, exposed and somewhat vulnerable. Sexting is a term coined by and for the millennial. I speak on their behalf when I say our digital world is our platform for expression and communication – it should be no surprise we express our sexuality through technology. In our “always on” era, whether we are on iMessage, Tinder, WhatsApp, Snapchat, or Facebook Messenger: sexting, and nudity, has become so commonplace in modern millennial culture, it is now a very normal and healthy part of dating.
According to Merriam-Webster, sexting is the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone. Fair call, but out-dated in my opinion. Sexting is now a term that doesn’t just tap into messages or images on our phones, it is a practice that gives the tick of approval to public exposure on social media (via said phones). Enter, “the nude selfie”.
The nude selfie era is an epic discussion point. The issue being, it takes the privacy out of an individual audience, and, essentially, sexts the whole world. There is nothing wrong with one being proud of their body and wanting to express themselves to our digi-social generation – I say go for it, your confidence is admirable, and oh so Nerve. In hindsight, the issue at large has more to do with the message the nude selfie is relaying to younger generations as they navigate the world we are so confident in understanding and expressing.
Let’s talk Kim Kardashian: definitely not your average packaged feminist. With an Instagram following of 63.8 million people, her recent nude selfie saga resulted in social media uproar – with many celebrities and influential figures voicing their opinion in the whole affair. Those who were publicly opposed to the selfie such as Bette Midler, Chloë Moretz and Pink, were accused by millennials of “slut shaming”. The common perception was that their intentions (for young women to be proud of accolades other than their naked body) were in the right place, but using Kardashian’s selfie as a gateway to scold other women’s choices was the wrong way to go. Ultimately, nude selfies – public or private, narcissistic or self-expressionistic, give women the power to start, stop and control their interaction with their own sexuality. Much like a sext.
Kardashian’s choice to liberate her own shamelessness is her call. “I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me,” Kardashian penned on her blog. “It’s 2016. The body-shaming and slut-shaming— enough is enough. I will not live my life dictated by the issues you have with my sexuality. You be you and let me be me.” There is a difference between porn and self-expression, people, and that difference comes from understanding our media climate in 2016.
Does the nude magazine cover differ from the nude selfie? Pink’s loud reaction to Kardashian’s shameless self-promotion was obvious disapproval, but she herself went completely naked on a national magazine cover in 2014. Kardashian has a wider audience across social media than most mainstream magazines – I fail to see the difference. Both made an individual decision to promote their naked forms on worldwide media platforms for the consumption of others. The double-standard is unprincipled.
At the end of the day, your body is your body. If you choose to sext a Tinder-date, if you choose to post a nude selfie on Instagram, if you choose to participate in a full frontal shoot on a magazine cover, it is your CHOICE. If anything our fast, “always on” digital era is showing us millennials, it’s that self-expression, in all its glory, is encouraged. For some, like Kim Kardashian, or even my friend’s Tinder match, that form of self-expression is much more open than others – and that’s OK, if anything it should be encouraged.
Should that alarm go off at the idea of sexting? Should you be outraged by a nude selfie? Should you feel uncomfortable at the thought of openly self-promoting one’s naked body? That is everyone’s individual decision, and that decision is what should matter. The feuds between different generations about this topic fuels the conversation about that decision – the more debates, the better for the evolution of women and sexuality.
The answer is simple, really. Be honest with your own sexuality. As for my friend? She’s having drinks with her Tinderfella on Thursday.