This is a bit of a taboo subject, and there is a seemingly large gap on the internet in regards to this subject. But sending / receiving nude pictures is becoming a popular activity, and we should be talking about it.
I’m not here to shame anyone or tell you these pictures are good or bad. While there’s nothing wrong or shameful in wanting to express your sexuality, especially when you feel like you’re in a safe, trusting relationship with someone, it’s smart to consider the implications and protect yourself by learning some facts about nude pictures. This is simply a blog explaining the facts about these pictures and your rights and responsibilities in regards to sending & receiving them.
First of all, you should know that if you receive a nude picture, it is considered sexual harassment / assault to distribute it without proof of consent. It’s also a serious invasion of privacy to spread around that kind of personal document, and you should probably consider the feelings of the person who sent you the picture. Even if you think someone is a bad person, or that they have done something to “deserve it”, it’s not ok to use their nude pictures against them. “Revenge porn” is never ok.
There’s also an issue of sexism, where it’s seemingly normal for boys to send nude pictures constantly, yet girls are shamed the second someone finds out they’ve sent nude pictures. Regardless of how you yourself perceive that issue, in the eyes of the law your gender doesn’t matter, and distributing those photos without proof of consent is equally worthy of a sexual assault or harassment charge.
The legal issues are especially important if you are under the age of 18: “The creation and sending of nude photos of people under the age of 18 does, technically speaking, break Canada’s child pornography laws” (sexualityandu.ca), which are in place to make sure children and youth are not sexually exploited and harmed by adults. So, if you’re a teenager who is consensually sharing nude photos with another teenager? What then? “In general, the intended purpose of the child pornography law does not include the prosecution of teens for the taking and sharing of nude photos as long as the photos are kept private between the original partners” (Slane, 2009). Even so, you should know that creating sexual photos of someone who is under 18 (even if it’s yourself!) and then sending them electronically to another person is still technically against the law. It’s also, at the very least, something that can carry risk for you personally should those images ever get in the wrong hands.
Also something worth noting:
You are NEVER obligated to send a nude picture, or to partake in ANY sexual activity that you don’t feel comfortable with. And before you partake in any sort of sexual activity, you should educate yourself on the potential risks and how to do anything you’re doing in the safest way possible.
And you’ve most likely heard this all before - the whole spiel on “Anyone worth your time will not make you do anything you don’t want to do.” But it’s really hard to make decisions when someone you love or care about is asking you to do something you think might not be a good decision for you. That’s a really scary situation to be in, and it’s important that you know your rights so that you can make a good decision if that ever happens.
On a final note, no matter what decisions you’ve made in the past, or decisions you may make in the future, it’s not okay for someone to sexually harass or exploit you. Know that if you feel someone is invading your privacy or sexually harassing you, you should report it to a parent / trusted adult or the police. Also, if you or a friend are involved in a sexting incident that has gotten out of control, the website needhelpnow.ca offers information, guidance for how to get through and steps you can take to feel in control again.
Slane, A. (2009). Sexting, teens and a proposed offense of invasion of privacy. Iposgoode: Intellectual Property Law and Technology Program. http://www.iposgoode.ca/2009/03/sexting-teens-and-a-proposed-offence-of-invasion-of-privacy/
SexualityAndU.ca. (2011). Sexting: Considerations for Canadian Youth: http://sexualityandu.ca/uploads/files/CTRsextingEnglishApril2011.pdf