In recent years Western societies have seen an explosion of anxiety about teenage sexting. Legislators have been racing to draft laws that keep pace with advances in new technologies for the exchange of sexually explicit material. However, in the absence of specific sexting laws, prosecutors have sometimes responded by charging teenagers with child pornography, sexual harassment, and indecency offenses. This chapter examines several recent criminal sexting cases and educational literature in the United States and Australia. Two broad arguments are made. First, the sexting panic is a displaced conversation about teenage sexual agency with explicit and less explicit strategies. On one hand is the manifest objective of regulating adolescent agency, and on another are the latent strategies of avoiding the complex realities of teenage agency and enacting a normative and homogenous figure of the immature and inept adolescent. Second, emotional tropes of fear and shame have been mobilized in the service of these strategies. The discussion concludes by probing the issue of shame’s entanglement with child sexuality in order to tease out one of the more distasteful aspects of the sexting panic: there is a great deal of embarrassment of, contempt for, and aggression against, “transgressive” sexual children.
Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.
To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.