You know it’s important when they combine two words to make a snazzy new phrase

Sex, plus texting, equals…anyone? Buller?


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, sexting. It sounds juvenile. It is juvenile.

Except, no, wait. A girl in Ohio hanged herself because her ‘sexting’ made her the target of abuse and ridicule.

To sum up: Eighteen-year-old Jessi uses her camera phone to take and send a nude picture to her boyfriend. A year later, they break up. The ex-boyfriend forwards the photo to hundreds of people…people at their school, who begin to torment the girl, calling her a whore. Eventually, it becomes too much, and Jessi hangs herself in her closet.

The story breaks, and everyone’s talking about what a tragedy it is and the dangers of ‘sexting’. Yes, it is a tragedy. It is always a crime for such a young life to come to a sudden and unnecessary halt. It’s also sad and awful when something like this sweeps the evening news with a bunch of specials and experts, warning parents against the dangers of cell phones and promiscuity.

This is not about cell phones or promiscuity.

Here’s the thing. The majority of the response has been along the lines of “this is why teenagers shouldn’t have cell phones”, or “this is why parents suck at monitoring”. Oh, she didn’t think ahead, she didn’t think about the consequences of her actions. I want to know why everyone cares so much. She was 18, she sent a picture to her boyfriend. Why is that wrong? Why isn’t anyone criticizing her peers for calling her a whore, when there is nothing whorish about it? Why is all the flack landing on a dead girl, instead of the immature boy who decided to make a spectacle out of something supposed to be private and sweet? Instead, it turned into this puritanical bullshit about privacy and nudity instead of what it should be about–teenagers (and legal adults, in this case) being cruel.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but Jessi doesn’t deserve any of it. She did nothing wrong, as far as I’m concerned. I have given a naked picture to a guy I was with (sorry, Dad). It was fun, it was sexy, and it’s no better or worse than actually sleeping with the person. If I misjudged his character, and he turned out to be the kind of person who would share that picture with the whole world….the fault wouldn’t be mine. I don’t think so. And I don’t think it was Jessi’s. And it’s not technology’s fault, and her parents weren’t irresponsible or negligent. This isn’t a social commentary. It’s about people being mean. End of story.

I hope she found peace.

3 Responses to “You know it’s important when they combine two words to make a snazzy new phrase”

  1. Angela Says:

    My thoughts on “blame” are as follows:

    1) Yeah, it was poor planning on her part to send a compromising and easily forwardable picture. However, this is not a major offense, and if it hadn’t been for the actions of others, nothing bad would have come of it.

    2) The ex-boyfriend is an asshole. I’m trying to think of something else to say, but that pretty much sums it up.

    3) The classmates are horrible and immature. They should have realized that they got the photo only because the ex was being a vindictive asshole, and tormented him, rather than attacking Jessi.

    Unfortunately, this sort of thing is the reason why I’ll never take naked pictures of myself. It’s just to easy for them to end up on the internet and come back to haunt me. It wouldn’t be my fault, but it could still have some really consequences. While I’m not vulnerable enough to go to the extreme Jessi did, it could prevent me from getting a job teaching elementary school. Damn shame too- I look good naked and if I lived in a pre-internet world I would take some cute pin-up shots.

  2. Tiffney Says:

    You’re right — there isn’t anything wrong with a woman being sexual. But it is indicative of a pretty big problem that the under 20 crowd seems to have — they don’t understand that living your life 100% online is a bad bad bad idea. They don’t remember a time without the Internet. Shoot, they don’t remember a time without Facebook! It is so important to help kids realize that whatever they say in gChat is written down forever. Whatever they text is saved forever. If a loser ex-boyfriend *saw* you naked, whatever. But I don’t think enough is done to help kids realize what kind of information they’re giving up about themselves when they commit to that level of vulnerability with some jackhole from English class.

  3. Renee Says:

    Why? Becuase of sexism. The same reason unwed pregnant teen girls are looked down upon and not their boyfriends. It’s a damn shame, but that’s our society.

Leave a Reply