By Rohini Banerjee for Youth Ki Awaaz:
In today’s age of growing dependency on technology and social media, even our most intimate conversations are conducted online. Hence, it is no surprise that ‘sexting’ – the conducting of sexually suggestive conversations through text messages, or through online social media platforms – has become an activity almost everybody has started indulging in, whether it be teenagers to adults.
Just to get a sense of things, I asked two friends if they sext and if yes, why. A friend who is a young author and environmentalist responded, “Yes, I have. My ex was especially interested in knowing what I find kinky and I ended up sharing a few of my preferences and some of my fantasies. Personally, words have a lot of meaning for me. And it’s exciting to share something so intimate with a partner. Plus, texting is safe. It’s sometimes easier to just say how you feel and what you want over a text than in person, especially early on.” Another, a 26-year-old male living in Delhi who works in an MNC spoke about what it does for him, “It is an unorthodox arousal because your partner is not there in front of you. The cerebral arousal is better and more exciting than just the physical.”
Sexting then is not just “the sending and receiving of sexually explicit messages” as many see it. It is the resorting to a virtual medium to satisfy one’s erotic urges; sometimes just by exchanging messages that can, in any form, lead to sexual arousal. Though the exchange of naked photos (‘nudes’) and sexually explicit messages might be a common way of sexting, it is not the only way. Even the most innocuous of flirtatious messages can qualify as sexting if they lead to sexual stimulation. While in some cases, phrases like “what are you wearing” can do the trick, in others, nudes or “sexy talk” can be the stimulus.
In a study conducted by the journal ‘Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking’, many people said that the reason they sext is to “feel sexy” or to flirt more easily. Therefore, though on many occasions sexting leads to the satisfaction of a sexual urge, that is not the sole reason why people engage in this activity. It can be the product of a desire to explore one’s body, or to explore the act of sexual arousal or orgasming itself. It can also be a way of bolstering one’s sexual confidence.
However, the simplest and most basic reason behind sexting is often instant sexual gratification. When physical sexual contact is not easily available, say in a long-distance relationship, then sexting becomes the go-to solution, for purposes as varied as uncomplicated flirtation to the relieving of sexual tension or masturbation.
‘Revenge Porn’—the distribution of nude or sexually explicit messages of a person without their consent—is perhaps one of the biggest downsides of sexting. If, by any chance, the person you are sending these nude or sexually graphic images to decides to spread them around social media without your consent or discretion, it can cause some major distress. In fact, as a result of revenge porn, many of those who have been subject to it have lost employment prospects, been socially ostracized, or suffered from some grave mental or physical trauma. So yes, sext, but with caution. Trust here, is key.
Sexting, as yet another means of achieving one’s sexual fulfilment, is then not something ‘unhealthy’ or to be guilty of. In fact, instead of shying away from admitting that you sext, or want to sext, one should challenge the stigma and moral judgements associated with it. Every individual should be in full control of the means with which they achieve their sexual gratification, and if that is via sexting, then why should anybody question that? If you want to send that nude photo or flirtatious message to your sexual partner, just go ahead and do it. Revel in your sexuality, whether it be through a digitized platform, or otherwise.