The Sexting Witch Hunt

As yet another victim of the OMGEVERYONEISRAPINGOURCHILDREN sexting/child porn witch hunt, I feel bad for Ti-Ying Oei. As assistant principal he retained evidence of students swapping risque pictures of each other, and was arrested for it. It’s bullshit.

But his reasoning behind getting involved in the first place?

My ordeal began in March of last year, when a teacher at my school, Loudoun County’s Freedom High, told me about a rumor that students were sending nude pictures of themselves to one another on their cellphones. We’ve all heard a lot about “sexting” lately, but a year ago the phenomenon was new to me and, I’d venture to say, to most school officials. Because administrators’ first concern is our students’ safety and well-being, it was my responsibility to look into the matter.

I called a student I thought likely to have such a picture into my office. In the presence of the school’s safety and security official, he quickly admitted that he did. He pulled out his phone and showed us an image of the torso of a woman wearing underpants, with her arms crossed over her breasts. Her head was not in the picture. The 17-year-old student claimed not to know who the young woman was or who had sent him the photo.

Okay, let’s go through this step by step.

  1. He heard some students may be sending nekkid pictures to each other.
  2. He said “OMG! I have to protect the children from engaging in consensual activities that don’t involve the school in the least!”
  3. He thought, “I bet student X24AZ is involved in this! Get him in here!”
  4. He lacked basic understanding of the technology he was trying to control.
  5. His sticking his nose in where it wasn’t needed led to others doing the same to him

This makes it much harder to feel sorry for the guy. He was a victim of the same setup he was initially trying to stop. He fed into the hysteria that took him down.

Sexting is today what teenagers in cars were several generations ago. Each generation finds ways to deal with their growing sexualities. Our place as adults is not to punish that, but to try and guide them in healthy ways. As long as teen sexuality is feared and seen as something to be controlled at all costs, then the openness necessary to provide that guidance will never appear. As long as the dialogue on teenage sexuality ranges from “NO!” to “NO! Or else!” then we’ll just continue to create less than ideal situations for youth to learn about themselves.

Vocabulary Expansion!

I’ve learned two awesome words recently!

1) Kyriarchy

Kyriarchy – a neologism coined by Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza and derived from the Greek words for “lord” or “master” (kyrios) and “to rule or dominate” (archein) which seeks to redefine the analytic category of patriarchy in terms of multiplicative intersecting structures of domination…Kyriarchy is best theorized as a complex pyramidal system of intersecting multiplicative social structures of superordination and subordination, of ruling and oppression.

Patriarchy – Literally means the rule of the father and is generally understood within feminist discourses in a dualistic sense as asserting the domination of all men over all women in equal terms. The theoretical adequacy of patriarchy has been challenged because, for instance, black men to not have control over white wo/men and some women (slave/mistresses) have power over subaltern women and men (slaves).

– Glossary, Wisdom Ways, Orbis Books New York 2001

See, I’ve never been terribly comfortable with the term “patriarchy.” The description of power along gender lines just didn’t seem complex enough to fit my description, and the root of the word referring to fathers just made me uncomfortable. Felt like demonizing scrotum-toters. It just didn’t explain my experience of power and the way that it’s used. Kyriarchy does, though. I’m glad to know it.

2)Voluptuary

Pronunciation: \və-ˈləp(t)-shə-ˌwer-ē\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural vo·lup·tu·ar·ies
Date: circa 1610
: a person whose chief interests are luxury and the gratification of sensual appetites

So I can simplify my business card next time I create them. “Gabe, Voluptuary and Pleasure Advocate/Activist.”

"Can you believe what she did?"

Lesbian kiss stirs debate in gay-friendly city

Apparently a couple was asked to stop kissing at a baseball park in Seattle “because it was making another fan uncomfortable.” Yeah, that’s fucked up. And justifications for it ranged from making out not being appropriate for anyone to do at a “family friendly” place to it forcing parents to explain to their children why two women would be kissing. OH NOES!

But the part that really gets me is this…

Since the incident, Guerrero’s job and her past have come under scrutiny. She works at a bar known for scantily clad women and was a contestant on the MTV reality show “A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila,” in which women and men compete for the affection of a bisexual Internet celebrity.

Oh well, if she’s obviously a slut anyway, then she had to have been doing something inappropriate in public. And even if she wasn’t right then, we all know she does bad things, so she needs to be punished anyway.

I really, really hate slut-shaming.

Consent and the State

Trinity’s most recent post at SM Feminist got me thinking about parallels that can be drawn between the state and BDSM. In it she quotes a feminist opponent of S/M who addresses the sexualization of and desire for male dominance, referring specifically to Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind

A thorough overhaul of desire is clearly on the feminist agenda: the fantasy that we are overwhelmed by Rhett Butler should be traded in for one in which we seize state power and reeducate him.

Of course anytime someone starts talking about “seizing state power” then I don’t really know how to engage with them. But this passage did start my wheels turning.

A very popular guideline among many BDSM inclined folks is that everything should be safe, sane and consensual or risk-aware and consensual. There are those who will not even make conspicuous BDSM elements of their relationship in public, because to do so is to involve others who have not given their consent (see the variety of responses to a couple being kicked off a bus because one of them was collared and on a leash). Everyone is given a choice on whether or not they wish to be in a BDSM scene or relationship. Those who choose not to are not threated with violence or otherwise pressured.

We’re not given the same option with the state. Even in the most representative and participatory forms of government we’re not given the option of opting out. We can have some voice in our collective masters, but we can never truly consent because we’re only presented with the option of being governed.

I don’t think that everyone should be forced to live in an anarchist society. I think that people should have the ability to create governments for themselves, but the only way that is compatible with free choice is if one of the choices is not to govern nor be governed at all. As it stands those who would choose not to participate are threated with violence, so even when someone makes use of the input they have into the American democracy, they have not done so with full consent, because consent under threat is no consent at all.