The rise of sexting has resulted in the rise of communication via cell phone. This often occurs with adolescents and can be a form of sexual harassment if unanswered. A research from Sex Roles demonstrates how teenage girls experience receiving unwanted dick photos.
In the United Kingdom, sending nudes to a minor or taking nudes as a minor is illegal activity. Despite this, almost half of women say that the primary purpose for sending a dick pic is to receive a naked image of the recipient in return, for other reasons, including to show off or as a power move. However, women are often held as a result of inadequate online risk.
Jessica Ringrose and her colleagues created focus groups of young people aged 11 to 18 from seven different secondary schools in the United Kingdom. Workshops were designed to identify how sexual images are taken, shared, and received by young people. The first part of the focus group aimed at discussing norms about taking and sharing photos. Finally, participants were asked to draw some of their experiences.
76% of adolescent girls surveyed had received a dick pic before, and 70% of them had been asked to send naked pictures of themselves before. Many participants suggested that it was easier to simply block or ignore the sender, especially when the sender was a stranger. This was also a common event, so it was no longer a concern.
Girls were spotted out complaining of receiving dick photographs from their peers and shared that it held the same sentiment that they must have sent something in return. This situation was described as difficult to navigate, and girls did not feel they might easily block or delete their peers, as they could with strangers.
This study has done well in understanding sexual harassment from unolicited nudes for adolescent girls. Despite this, it has several limitations. Firstly, focus groups can encourage participants to adapt their responses to others to fit in within the group, which can lower data bias. Moreover, all participants were from the United Kingdom and these experiences may vary based on their country.
According to the authors, the unolicited dick pictures given to girls aged 1118 have been normalized. These findings have helped reinforce and extend previous studies that suggested that dick pictures have become a common part of youth digital sexual cultures.
Our participants lacked the appropriate framework to understand these incidents as harassment. Instead, they ignored or blocked the senders, but doing so was more difficult when the sender was a familiar boy from the peer group at school.
Researchers say they advocated for a shift in the language to understand young digital sexual image sharing, reverting victim-blaming narratives and abstinence messages derived from the criminalization of all youth sexual images, to focusing on how and when image sharing and receiving are non-consensual, harassing and abusive.
Jessica Ringrose, Kaitlyn Regehr, and Sophie Whitehead are all author of this research, "Adolescent Girls Experiences Negotiating the Ubiquitous Dick Pic: Sexual Double Standards and the Normalization of Image Based Sexual Harassment."