Sexting and the state of Arizonaby Jacquelyn Jackson on Jun. 26, 2011, under Uncategorized
In the shower this morning, the Beach Boys infiltrated my brain. I have no idea why; I do not listen to oldies and haven’t heard even a snippet of one of their songs for a very long time. But the line, wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, and we didn’t have to wait so long… just kept looping through my brain. Since it was lodged there, I figured I might as well sing it out, and with all that echo and water as back-up, I sounded pretty good.
It doesn’t seem like that many years ago that those lyrics made me ache with desire for the olive-skinned hunk I was in love with. I spent hours dreaming of being able to lie beside him all night, skin on skin, sweat and saliva – wouldn’t it be nice?
Imagination is the solar energy of passion. I remember how heated it became in my dreams and imaginings – all of which did not always hold up when the real thing finally became part of my life. Today, with sexting running rampant in our culture, imagination, waiting and wondering, which are critical elements in the mystery of it all, have been stampeded by naked images of the human body.
A new law in Arizona that will become effective July 1 lowers the legal consequences of sexting from a felony to class 2 misdemeanor. Apparently, law enforcement was hesitant to slap a felony charge on a 14-year-old (or a member of Congress for that matter) who texted a naked picture of him or herself. But a class 2 misdemeanor can mean 4 months in jail with the chance for the teen to participate in a “diversion” program so it won’t become part of a permanent record. Now they can nail them.
Today our national psyche runs amok. Male id runs rampant, naked images of females on the Internet spread at warp speed and all of us stumble around with no clear idea about how to raise our kids with healthy sexuality. Many of us now are “older,” that thing we couldn’t wait for when we were young, but we are not leading the young in ways our kids and culture needs.
A recent report from UA’s Frances McClelland Institute of Children, Youth and Families on Sexting notes that one in five teens have sexted and one in three “know a friend” who has done so. Girls are more often shamed for texting naked images of themselves, while guys are more often considered studly (again, unless it is a member of Congress who is then considered idiotic!).
But as the report notes for all teens, “Sexting is a sign that youth do not have a healthy understanding of sexuality, or healthy ways to express their sexual interests and feelings.”
It seems it is up to us, the ones who are older, to model healthy sexuality, rather than putting on the books one more intrusive Arizona law that seeks to impose moral imperatives on all of us.
I recently asked Christine Downing, the 80-year-old Jungian scholar who focused on sexuality in her own work, what she makes of sexting. Her reply: “Too many girls and women out there are succeeding professionally but they become aware that there is a sense that it is persona. They think, ‘This is not the real me.’ So the idea that I want to be seen, becomes literalized. I want my body to be seen, my femaleness needs to be validated.”
If we are only validated as females through our bodies, we are in real trouble. Breasts and flat bellies as report cards of our humanity – I don’t think so.
The “body” in our culture has ascended to an unholy place of obsession. Millions of dollars are spent on diets, plastic surgery, botox injections and cosmetics, because how we look, not how kind or smart or good we are, is the primary currency.
It is up to all of us – the adults – to model how good works are just as vital as good looks and to also model the ways in which sexuality connects with sacredness and love. For all those of us for whom Wouldn’t it be nice if we are older is no longer a future prospect, it is time to step up. We are all older, and for our kids to stand a chance, we should quit looking to the cops to enforce healthy sexual behavior and instead model for our kids healthy bodies, minds and souls, and sexuality that connects with the sacredness and mysteriousness of life.
Wouldn’t it be nice.