Why are we all sexting?
IT'S a taboo topic, for sure, but let's be real - everybody is sexting.
Even if "you" aren't, "we" are. Single people are also engaging in sexting, with "frexting" (sending nudes to your friends) on the rise.
So what is so sexy about sexting? Quick, easy, secret and seemingly gratifying, it's easy to see why sexting has taken off. It's a form of in-the-hand sexuality that is servicing the dual needs of an individual's desire: it's intimate and personal but also carries some risk. Sexting is naughty.
According to a recent study of 110,000 teens from around the world, one in seven teens engage in sexting, and there was no gender difference shown.
Maybe this makes sense. More teenagers, all around the world, have unmonitored access to smartphones - a behaviour that has been normalised where in previous generations this kind of freedom for teens was often restricted or prohibited.
Other teen behaviours, however, are changing. Despite teens exchanging explicit photographs themselves, teen sex is on the decline.
WOMEN AT RISK OF BEING BARRAGED BY DICK PICS ONLINE
A recent article in The Conversation - a publication funded by universities - made no fewer than three references to dick pics as being sexually violent in it's opening paragraphs. Is this overkill? Maybe not.
Dick pics are an issue in the online world, with dating apps proving a particular issue.
Tinder, Bumble, Happn and other top dating apps attribute their success to being women friendly, with many claiming to have around 50 per cent female participation. However, this was never traditionally the case.
Before the "opt in" features for users (read: women) on dating apps, trailblazed by Tinder, dating apps would often result in women receiving dozens, if not hundreds of unsolicited messages as soon as they signed up for dating services.
Tinder was genius in that it provided a space where users could only be contacted by people they agreed to hear from.
Men traditionally outnumber women on dating apps by a substantial amount, and removing the ability to directly send a picture is no mistake. Unsolicited dick pics are the kind of feature that will turn women off dating sites permanently. For heterosexual users, wild gender imbalances result in making apps less desirable spaces for users of all genders.
In 2014, Tinder added an "ephemeral" photo feature which is serviced to "all matches" and disappears after 24 hours, similar to an Instagram story.
The key difference in this feature is that a user cannot send a dick (or vagina) pic to another individual and prompt a notification, but the individual will receive a small preview and can opt to open the image or not.
The feature was aimed at improving conversations between users with many matches who had difficulty connecting, and aimed to remind users that "Tinder is not just about dating."
In earlier iterations of dating spaces or stranger-to-stranger messenger platforms, the proliferation of the dick was less controlled and much more in your face.
Think the wildly popular but short-lived Chatroulette, where an evening's click-through was like walking room to room in a very low budget remake of Stanley Kubrick's surreal and erotic opus Eyes Wide Shut. Where is this going? Nobody knows.
Users of Chatroulette were bombarded with other users' nudity and psychiatrist Dr Keith Ablow, a member of the American Psychiatric Association since 2011, labelled the site "a predator's paradise".
THE URGE TO BE NAKED ON SCREEN IS HERE TO STAY
Recently a friend told me that her friend sends her "platonic nudes" on a regular basis. I thought this was weird, but it turns out I'm just behind the curve.
Last year The Cut chronicled a group of straight men who send one another dick pics - and live action videos, where they "critiqued the size, shape, colour, and texture" of one another's, um, little friends.
I would do anything for my friends but I mean come on dudes. Between the group, it seemed that nudity was abundant and modesty was of low value.
And then, of course, there is a wash of "millennial irony".
But sexting your friends is a thing, according to multiple sources. It's called "frexting" and both men and women are doing it with increasing frequency and for various purposes. Sometimes you just want to send a nude; sometimes you need validation; sometimes you need help editing the photo and; some people use it for "bonding and empowerment".
Explaining "The Dickonomics of Tinder" on Medium, Alana Massey said six words from a lawyer transformed her views on dating. "Dick is abundant and low value."
Anthony Wiener's addiction to sexting ruined everybody's lives
When discussing the Weiner sexting scandal with Alec Baldwin, comedian Jerry Seinfeld described it as taking off the "face of the clock and watch[ing] the gears".
"Sex is easy to understand," Seinfeld said. "This sexting thing, not so much."
Talking to Baldwin on his podcast Here's The Thing, Seinfeld asked, "When that was going on, were you disgusted? Were you going, 'I love this?'"
Weiner detonated his political career over and over again by sexting out of marriage. His indiscretions took place on his phone and his personal and fake Twitter accounts. The New York Times alleged Wiener's urges were so uncontrollable that he had engaged in sexting whilst laying in bed with his son.
Weiner, a democrat, who has many times mounted campaigns to run for election as the Mayor of New York City, was first exposed as a sexter in 2011. He initially denied the claims, before coming forward to admit to exchanging explicit photographs of himself with six different women.
His sexting did not stop there, with another scandal in 2013 a few months after he returned to the Mayoral race. Attempting to sext in private under the pseudonym "Carlos Danger", Weiner was zipped again by Indiana woman Sydney Leathers.
Again in 2016, Weiner was found sexting a 15-year-old girl. He is now serving a prison term after pleading guilty to a single count of transferring obscene material to a minor.