Sexting: To Porn or Not to Porn

Blog — By on June 4, 2009 at 11:29 am

Before I climb up on that high horse of mine, let me come clean. Yes. I played Spin-the-Bottle as a young girl. It was a routine summer activity on Friday and Saturday nights in the trailer park where I grew up. Kids would gather at the deep end of the swimming pool during the noon-day heat but once the sun went down for the night, we’d hide in the shadows behind whatever trailer sat empty that week.

We formed a cross-legged circle in the dirt, girls on one side and boys on the other, trying to avoid the bunkers of fire ants. With every spin I made I hoped like heck that the bottle’s neck didn’t point to the boy with the double-fanged teeth.

If our parents knew what we were doing they never said. To be honest, I think parents who raise children in 12-by-60s in the steam of a southern summer are just thankful to have the television cut off and a moment of quiet. Whenever we were on Mama’s last nerve, she used to tell me and my brother to go play in the freeway. She was joking, of course, but just barely.

I blame Brother John for introducing me to the whole Spin-the-Bottle affair. No. Not that way. Sick. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Brother John was simply pimping me out. He had this major crush on Sara and the only way he could figure out how to spend time with Sara was to include his icky-little sister, who just happened to be Sara’s best friend. It wasn’t a perfect plan. It’s not natural for a brother to include his sister in his sexual exploits, but it was the best Brother John could do, considering the constraints of childhood friendships.

Sara never really liked Brother John. She liked his friend Joe. But the only way she could figure out how to get cozy with Joe was to start with Brother John. Well, you get the picture. Our idea of cozy, mind you, didn’t include discarding any clothing. It didn’t even include any slobber-swapping. That would have been far too nasty. There was a lot of heavy breathing but that was more the result of nerves than passion.

Even if our parents weren’t paying attention, we knew God was and if he got upset with us, well, shoot, he was liable to do more than break a switch off a tree; he could burst the dang sky open and rain down locust and lightening. The rules were clear, if unspoken. Nobody ever did anything beyond a dry-run to first base.

Now I can’t be sure how Yankees conducted their Spin-the-bottle routines but I can’t imagine that Yankee parents are any different than one that raised me. So for the sake of argument, let’s just assume the rules for Spin-the-Bottle are universal. Far as I can recall the goal of Spin-the-Bottle was never to get nekkid. In fact, I’m pretty sure if anyone in our circle of friends had stripped off their Haines, he or she would have been targeted as a creepo pervert. We would have gathered the next week in a circle to hold hands and pray for their eternal soul which was surely damned.

All this to explain why it is that I am completely flummoxed by a study that claims “sexting” is no worse than Spin-the-Bottle. You know what sexting is, right? It’s all the rage among school kids these days. They take photos of their undressed privates and then send them out via cell phone, making them about as public as the emperor who strode through town nekkid as a jaybird. (Thank you, Paris Hilton for the legacy you’ve passed along to a new generation.)

Peter Cumming, an associate professor at York University in Toronto, has concluded that parents ought not get their panties in a wad over sexting. Cumming says this practice is as harmless as Spin-the-Bottle. (Somebody might want to give this professor the crib sheet on sexual education. He apparently was absent for part of that semester.)

Professor Cumming warned that sexuality is a part of human nature and as such it’s natural for kids to want to experiment. Yeah. Well, it’s natural for them to want to chase their siblings with butcher knives, too, but I never encouraged that. They are your children, so do what you want to, but don’t go blaming me if your child ends up with a life sentence. I tried to tell you.

Mr. Smarty-Pants Cumming claims that “a distinction has to be made between nudity and porn.” He says kids who get caught sexting should not be considered a sex offender. Like I said, you do what you want to, but any child who comes around me or mine trying to swap out a looky-see is going to met with the sharp end of my wrath. And, buddy, I’m here to tell you, that’ll put the fear of God in the most hardened sinner. Just ask my four children.

You don’t need a piece of parchment or a year-long study to reach the conclusion that taking photos of your privates and passing them along to your buddies or complete strangers is just plain stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid, as Gomer Pyle used to say.(You reckon this is what they mean when they talk about the “Dumbing Down” of America?)

Professor Cumming doesn’t think such behavior is harmful to children. He doesn’t even think nude photos of children are pornography. Makes a person wonder what somebody like the muddled-brained professor would consider pornographic, doesn’t it?

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    14 Comments

  • Jordan Green says:

    And with that, I'd like to welcome Karen Spears Zacharias to the club.

    (Full intros on our new writers are coming!)

    Coming. (tee-hee!)

  • Jared says:

    I was wondering if anyone else noticed the appropriateness, or possibly, inappropriateness of the good professor's name.

    I'm sure saying this will more than likely get my comment deleted, but oh well…

    I'm so sophomoric…

  • Karen says:

    Actually Jared both Jordan and I took note of it. But perhaps it's just more a literary notation than a commentary on our maturity, or lack thereof.

  • Joan Ball says:

    Unfortunately spin-the-bottle is not as innocent as it used to be. About six years ago a group of eight-graders in my kids' school were caught replacing oral-sex for kissing. I suppose Dr. C would consider this to be natural childhood curiosity as well. Kids will be kids?

  • Jordan Green says:

    @Jared: I'd be more upset if someone didn't get the appropriateness of that name.

    @Joan: Whoazzers. That can't be good.

  • Larry Shallenberger says:

    For the uninitiated, Karen wore one of the best releases of 2008– Where's Your Jesus Now? (Zondervan)

  • KR says:

    Jared you are so in my league of gutter thoughts. And I really enjoyed every bit of this piece by virtue of it's pure good ol southern po-mo writing, Karen. Good work. look forward to more.

  • James says:

    Karen: Well said.
    One thing that disturbed me about all this is that the reports about what this guys said didn't really indicate that it was just one guy's opinion. More correctly, the reports did say that, if you read long enough. But the headlines simply said "Expert says sexting no worse than spin the bottle". And sadly, many, many people only read the headlines.

  • Tyler says:

    Whew Karen, that was amazing. Your voice captured me from start to finish. Please write more.

  • Larry Shallenberger says:

    Karen wrote, not wore, one of the best releases of '08. I'm a dope.

  • Tim says:

    And what a fine introduction that is, Karen. Thank you for this.

    I'm now going home to lock my 2 1/2 year old daughter in her room for the next 25 years.

  • Larry Shallenberger says:

    Tim,

    My advice to help your children get through those rough adolescent years and sexual temptation– simply don't potty train them.

    Your Welcome,

    Larry

  • karen spears zacharias says:

    Larry:
    Gosh. Great advice. Wish somebody had provided me with that tip…

  • Stephen says:

    Hottest BWC blog post photo ever?

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