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Sexting PanicRethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent$
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Amy Adele Hasinoff

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038983

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038983.001.0001

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Self-esteem advice and blame

Self-esteem advice and blame

(p.71) Chapter 3 Self-esteem advice and blame
Sexting Panic

Amy Adele Hasinoff

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines how sexting was constructed as a symptom of low self-esteem and the subsequent advice offered to girls in mass media and public service announcements (PSAs). A range of nationally distributed PSAs as well as informal advice to girls in newspaper coverage of sexting implores adolescent girls to raise their self-esteem and “think before you post” in order to prevent them from making supposedly risky sexual decisions online. This advice to girls reconfigures existing discourses of “girl power” by counseling sexual self-control as a strategy for achieving and demonstrating high self-esteem. This chapter explains why the shift in online safety advice from a focus on online predators and technology as the main culprits to an explicit strategy of encouraging girls to be autonomous, independent, and responsible online is problematic. It argues that online safety advice tends to reproduce the idea that sexual harassment is natural and inevitable and that only girls—not the men who victimize them—need to modify their behavior.

Keywords:   sexting, self-esteem, adolescent girls, public service announcements, girl power, sexual self-control, online safety, online predators, technology, sexual harassment

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