The new generation has developed its new dating and relationship behaviours over time. Data show that 33% of college-age (18-24 years) students are involved in some form of nude sexting with their partners. While both sending and receiving sexually explicit images or texts under the age of 18 is a criminal offence, 24% of high-school teenagers (14-17 years) are involved in sexting.
Since sexting with boyfriend has become a common practice nowadays, we spoke to a few millennials to find to where do they draw the line as far as sexting is concerned.
The names of the women have been requested to remain undisclosed.
Every couple determines the rules of their relationship. Over the generations, the lines of what is permissible and what is not have also changed. With the evolution of social media, sexting has become a new dating behaviour as many young adults share their nudes and sexual messages. While some may argue it is a way of showing intimacy and building trust there can be no denying that when a relationship goes kaput such messages or pictures often are or can be used to victimise a partner. Conversing with a few women over the topic of sexting and intimacy, we found that most of the times women feel objectified or coerced.
Sexual intimacy has become an essential paradigm of trust more than an essential part of a trusting relationship.
One of the girls we spoke to said that her ex-boyfriend coerced her into sending her nudes while she wasn’t “exactly on board” with the idea during an intimate chat. “I tried telling him no, hoping he would understand but he thought that I don’t trust him enough to send him my nudes so I eventually sent him some.”
There are times when women don’t feel comfortable enough sending nudes simply because they are not confident about their bodies but find it difficult to refuse simply because they don’t “want to be the bad person” or “it might hurt” their partner’s feelings.
According to statistics, around 70% of teenage boys and girls send their partners' nude images while 61% of them report that they were pressurised into it at least once. 15% of the teens send their nudes to people whom they have never met but are acquainted with through the internet. It is reported that 17% of the receivers of sexts share them with others and 55% of those are likely to share the messages with more than one person.
Another woman we spoke to shared her experience when her boyfriend asked her for a nude, “I wasn’t sure at first. I have always been too insecure about my body but I felt that it might hurt his feelings. I didn’t want to be the bad person.”
Sharing a private picture with your partner is a matter of immense trust and faith. While there are times women have sent their nudes deliberately, they have been sexualised and humiliated as an object of sex.
Sexting victimisation, including blackmailing and slut-shaming, has objectified women leading to toxicity in a relationship. A woman shared, “I sent him my picture once but only the upper half. He hadn’t asked for it and as soon as he saw it, he replied that he wanted to see “more”. But I refused to say sometime later so he wouldn’t feel bad. The next time when we were taking things forward, he asked me for a picture. I sent him and he asked for two more. We broke up after two months and he slut-shamed me in front of my friends as I had sent him the pictures first.”
Back in 2020, the Bois Locker Room shocked everyone as an Instagram group chat was revealed where teen boys from South Delhi shared objectionable pictures and lewd comments over minor girls. It was discovered that some of the boys who were a part of the chat group were still underage. It was also alleged that some members tried to threaten the victims who outed them, blackmailing them about leaking their nude photographs.
When did sexting with boyfriend became a benchmark of trust in a relationship?
Why do women need to prove their trust and love by being objectified as an object of sex? Why does it become so difficult for them to say NO when they are not comfortable? Why do men insist on their partners repeatedly when they know that she is not comfortable with sharing something so intimate? When did sexting with boyfriend become so integral to a relationship that it forfeited consent?
Sexting with or without nudes is a choice. Many women prefer indulging in it, many don't. Hey, it's a free world after all. And since dating practices are always evolving with each generation, this overlap of whether or not people are comfortable with exchanging nudes will always persist.
While no one is entitled to judge the parties either sharing or not sharing intimate snaps, what's most essential is safety. If you have sent him a nude, can you tell him to delete it? What happens if he doesn't? Are there legal measures to assist you? Here's what women are saying about this and more in our DM series.
Views expressed by the author are their own. Image is used for representational purposes.