Julie Lalonde, project manager with draw-the-line.ca, a province-wide educational initiative launched this past May, leads off a frank discussion on sexting at the “Could This Be Love?” conference at the Civitan Club hall in Perth on Nov. 21.
No one wants to see your junk.
Especially unsolicited on their cell phone.
“People do not want to see photos of your junk,” said Julie Lalonde, in a frank discussion on “sexting,” and online harassment last month.
While she admits that she hates the word “sexting,” Lalonde admits that it touches on so much more than sharing dirty pictures with your My5 friends, or sharing nude photos of your girlfriend with all the guys on your hockey team.
“Is it a big deal to share it with others?” she asked, before being met by a chorus of “Yes” at the “Could This Be Love?” conference, sponsored by Lanark County Interval House, at the Perth Civitan club hall on Wednesday, Nov. 21.
“I am so glad to hear you say that,” she replied.
Lalonde is a project manager with draw-the-line.ca, a province-wide educational initiative launched in May, and she did not mince words on the cause-and-effect relationship of sexism and rape.
“If you think you making a sexist comment has nothing to do with rape, you are wrong,” said Lalonde. “Sexist comments allow an environment that allows rape to happen.”
Rape involves a lack of consent and a violation, just the same as sharing lurid photos of someone without their knowledge of consent is, she said.
“We can’t assume that our online lives are separate from our real world lives,” said Lalonde. “That’s not how we roll now.”
She revealed that about 40 per cent of teenage girls polled said that they have felt pressure from guys, which was why they sent pictures of themselves in compromising positions. Further to this, one fourth of teenage girls and one third of teenage boys admit that they have forwarded on a photo intended for someone else.
But Lalonde pointed out that today’s popular culture seems to have a skewed view of circulating this material, where someone like Paris Hilton can become a star thanks, in part, to the release of a sex tape.
“Some people get those pictures leaked and they get famous,” said Lalonde. “These are the messages you get.”
But the overarching message however is that “it’s not consensual. That’s the big deal. Consent is between two people, negotiated,” she said. By hitting the forward button, “you just violated their right to bodily integrity.”
There are also legal implications at play for sexting too.
If the images on your phone, for example, are of a person under the age of 18, that “can be defined as possessing or distributing child pornography,” she said. “You can agree with it or not but that is the law.”
She urged teenagers to be aware of three things when they receive such a photo in their inbox, or if they are being pressured to take photos and send them to their significant others.
- Was this my idea?
- Where will this picture end up?
- Was this their idea?
She also advised receivers of the photos to delete them, and not even look at them, if possible, and call the person who sent it to you that you are not happy with what they did, and then tell someone in authority.
“Be the person (who) stops it,” she said. “Coercion is not consent.”
Photos taken in, what one assumed at least, to be the privacy of the bedroom, are one thing. Other photos are taken secretly too, and can be just as damaging.
“The vast majority of people don’t know that the picture was taken,” said Lalonde.
While there was plenty of discussion about many of the questions posed by Lalonde, one very thinly-veiled reference to the ongoing Chris Brown/Rihanna drama drew near-unanimous boos for Brown.
“Your favourite singer assaulted his girlfriend,” said Lalonde. “Do you download his latest single?”
Right away, a chorus of no’s, and negative comments, filled the air. Even at this, Lalonde highlighted that she had heard both sides of that argument.
“There’s a difference between him as an artist and him as a person,” she said, on the one hand, but alternatively, on the other, “why do you put money in the pocket of someone who perpetuates it?”
Other issues were far less straightforward, such as a coach spending a lot of time with one particular player, both on and off the field.
“I don’t know who I would tell,” said Lalonde. On the other hand, “I think it is sketchy, but I don’t want to start a rumor.”
Lalonde urged anyone with questions about online harassment to contact her at email@example.com. Teachers can also contact her about accessing free educational materials for the classroom.