9.3 Editor's Pick

Let’s Talk about Nude Selfies.

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It’s time we had an honest talk.

It’s 2019, and something that seems to be a problem in our political and social sphere should be discussed far more openly.

What I am referring to are the nude photos that we take of ourselves—photos taken with a cell phone and shared with loved ones or the partners that we’re dating.

Yes, Mr. Bezos and the current tabloid fiasco, wherein they wanted to use nude photos to essentially blackmail him, inspired me to finally put pen to paper on this topic. Affair aside, we are living in a modern world where online messaging, as well as cellular communication, is 100 percent the norm when it comes to communicating our feelings and desires with our partners.

When it becomes public knowledge that somebody has sent nudes, why is this even an issue?  

The numbers are somewhat available. If you search for polling data, you will find that anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of people have sent provocative photos to lovers, partners, husbands, and wives. While the data is not fully conclusive, there is no question that sending provocative photos via digital means is a common modern practice. Most people born after the early 80s have participated in this, whether it is sending or requesting and receiving photos of a sexual nature.   

If you think this is new, let me remind everyone of something. In the 1940s, when bikinis were barely even legal, women often sent their loved ones, who were serving overseas, photos of themselves in bathing suits and lingerie. Additionally, patriotic air force employees painted renditions of these images and similar images of celebrities and models on the side of the fighter jets and bombers that liberated Europe! Today, these airplanes are preserved in museums and no one bats an eye.

Let’s have an honest conversation about the nature of sexual expression. It’s not something we should even entertain as “controversial.” In fact, consensual sexual dialogue and graphic imagery is not a moral issue; it is an expression of desire and enticement within relationships, and it’s a norm.

Sexuality and a person’s sexual history (aside from nonconsensual or abusive acts) should not be used as a thing we can harm them with. Sexual choices are private and should be fully accepted when they are consensual. Additionally, in modern relationships, men all across this country are asking women to send photos. Yet, we shame women all the time when their nudes become public.

Can we please recognize that sexuality is intrinsic to our nature, that sexual connection and expression is totally okay, and that morality and sexuality do not have a place in the same conversation, unless we are talking about nonconsensual sexuality?

Our sexual choices are our own. The decisions we make with our husbands and wives, partners and lovers are decisions that should, first and foremost, remain private. When that is not the case, these are decisions that should be accepted as commonplace, and not used to shame or as blackmail in an environment of a controversy-hungry media.

Go be your beautiful, wonderful, sexually empowered selves. Today is no longer the day we need to fear shame. It’s an age-old tactic that deserves to be put to rest.

Today is the day you can rise and say, “I am not afraid. I am comfortably empowered within my sexuality, I believe in myself, and I am happy to be free of this shame.”

author: Max Trombly

Image: Jan Zhukov/Unsplash

Image: Author's Own

Editor: Kelsey Michal

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Susannah-Joy Schuilenberg Mar 8, 2019 3:22pm

Both this article and the one by Sheila Delaney Duke are excellent, relevant, and offer thoughtful and reasoned response to this issue from two different perspectives.
My perspective is that discussion of who has sexted to whom is a) nobody’s business when the sexting was consensual no matter what the corollary circumstances (marriage, adultery, hook up, blah, blah, blah) and b) focuses outrage in precisely the wrong direction. When photos like this are made public by reason of hacking, fakery, revenge, coercion, blackmail, or any other NON-consensual means, this ought to be prosecuted. Every time.
Be outraged if you think someone married shouldn’t be sexting a non-partner, but stop excusing ANY non-consensual exposure of those nude pics as acceptable, nor indeed, anything other than what it is…an act of exploitation and/or violence.

Amy Palatnick Feb 24, 2019 10:11pm

i love this article!!

Sheila Delaney Duke Feb 21, 2019 1:43am

With respect, I offer a different view. It’s less about what individuals choose to and not to do as adults, and more about the impact of an article like this on our teens. Who can search “nude selfie” and come up with this.

I’ve crafted a full article in response, published here. Comment space was clearly insufficient for me. Check this out. I’d be curious about your thoughts.

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2019/02/lets-talk-for-real-about-nude-selfies-a-concerned-moms-response/

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Max Trombly

Max Trombly. Embodied men’s work. Life with intention. Stay open. Love fiercely. New Orleans and Black Rock City based. Follow on Instagram.