The Price of Ambiguity

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Feb 11, 2009 1:42 PM
Several 12 to 14 year old boys may be charged with child pornography for "sexting" (ie texting a sexually explicit picture) of one boy's 13 year old girlfriend, posing nude.

It would be interesting to get the reaction of author and NYT blogger Judith Warner, who has dismissed the concern about teenage sex as nothing more than "moral panic."

The story about the "sexting" boys includes the following quote:

Columbia University Professor Sari Locker said surveys suggest one in five teens has sent or received nude or semi-nude pictures. “When boys receive a nude picture of a girl, they think the next time they see her they can go further with her in a sexual way than before,” she said.

Well, of course they do.  That's human nature.  

As I note in my book, Prude, the "sexification" of the culture has normalized behavior that's neither healthy nor right for boys and girls alike.  Because standards for sexual behavior have been almost completely eroded, you have behavior like that of the boys (and the girl) in question; they don't know any better.

And then, as a result, the law has to step in to handle problems that should be addressed simply through a social consensus that certain types of sexual behavior are simply wrong.  The law is a blunt instrument.  And thus, three young boys find themselves facing the possibility of serious criminal charges because of behavior that is, no doubt wrong -- but which has, too often, been dismissed or overlooked by those in our culture who believe that teen sex is nothing more than a form of personal expression, a morally neutral "choice." as it were.