Girls Are Allowed To Have Sex Without It Getting Posted All Over The Internet
Last night I had a discussion with my husband about an article I read previously in the day from Slate entitled What We Found While Lurking on an Anonymous College Message Board for Two Years. We did that thing that so many parents do, lie in bed awake and worry about the future of our kids and what the world is like now versus the world we grew up in, where a girl could get drunk at a party and hook up with some random guy and not be terrified that the next day her name would be plastered all over the Internet for everyone to see. The article, which I think is worth a read for every parent, explains how Andrea Press and Francesca Tripodi explored the world of anonymous campus Internet boards:
On the campus we studied from 2011-2013, students of both sexes not only accepted but embraced extreme and alarming sexist language that objectifies and hypersexualizes women. We spoke with 44 students directly in focus groups, as well as 379 others who responded to an anonymous survey, and the vast majority of them found the ranking of women by appearance and sexual prowess commonplace and of little concern.
The article is as disturbing as you would expect, with the authors stating:
Unfortunately, the safety is afforded only to the posters, who can contribute anonymously; it’s not safer for those named in posts, who are identified with first and last names as “Smokin’ body, always down with the Alpha Taus” or “into BDSM and has been known to snort coke off guys’ dicks.”
When I attended high school and college, there was no internet. People didn’t have home computers. If someone had sex with someone it was either never discussed, and if it was discussed it was a matter of gossip, or at the very worst, a hastily scrawled message on a bathroom wall. You can argue that the Internet is the modern day version of the bathroom wall, but one that everyone, anywhere, in most parts of the world can access at any time. I’m a proponent of free speech, and this is where it gets tricky for me, and for many of us, because even though I believe in free speech I also believe that our kids, our daughters especially, should be allowed to live and explore and discover this great big world without living in fear that their full names will be associated with whatever they do while they are exploring this great big world, even if that is having random hookup sex with someone.
I don’t want my kids to have sex with people who will then go online and post this fact for everyone to know. But do they even have to have sex with someone for this to happen? Anyone can say anything they want online, and unless you are willing to file a lawsuit claiming that your child has been a victim of libel, slander or defamation, and you are familiar with the laws of your state and country, there isn’t much you can do about it, save for contacting the website where the information was posted and requesting that it be removed. Yes, many states have anti-bullying laws, but we still have a long way to go in this regard, and considering so many young kids have taken horrible and drastic measures when subjected to internet bullying I’m not sure we’re doing enough.
I worry about my kids names being posted online and associated with anything private. I worry about colleges and employers and future colleagues googling them and finding information about them, whether it is true or not, that should be private. We can talk to our kids about posting these things online about their own friends and peers and explain to them about why it is wrong and why it is damaging, but after reading the Slate article I can’t help but feel considering gossip and rumors have been around since our own parent’s parent’s parents were young, now it will continue but just on a much broader scale.
I don’t know how we deal with this. I don’t know how we keep our kids, especially our daughters, safe online. I want my own kids to have sex with people that is consensual and safe and healthy, I just don’t want the whole world knowing about it.