Is There a Double Standard to Teen Sexting?

Girls are more likely to be looked down upon for sending graphic texts. 

Posted: 06/20/2014 03:03 PM EDT

Sexting — the act of explicitly talking about sex or sending naked pictures via text messaging — has become a fixture in our culture. While it may not be as common as among young people as we thought, a 2012 study found that more than 50 percent of teens have been asked to share a naked picture of themselves. Not to mention, that African-American and white teens were more likely to partake in this behavior.

While “everyone” sexts, when it comes to gender and sexting, is there a double standard?

A new small-scale study says, “absolutely.”

Researchers from University of New Hampshire surveyed 51 students ages 12-18 from New York City, Atlanta and Denver. They found that girls were more likely to face a double standard than boys: If they sext they were looked at as being “promiscuous” or “fast” and if they didn’t sext, they were looked at being a “prude” or “lame.”

Meanwhile, boys didn’t face any consequences if they chose to sext or not.

According to Health Day, here’s what a few of the students surveyed had to say:

One girl wrote, "If a guy wants to hook up with you, he'll send pictures of his private parts or a naked picture of him." A boy wrote that "I know I can get it from" girls who send him sexts.

Some said that sexts were "no big deal," while others judged those who sexted or didn't.

"This is common only for girls with 'slut' reputations," wrote an 18-year-old male.

Another criticized girls for sexting but added, "I'm not going to stop it."

But those who don't sext were judged, too, with boys declaring that those girls are "stuck up," "goody" girls or prudes.

Obviously, when it comes to female sexuality, this double standard exists in so many other arenas. (Think: Steve Harvey’s harsh critique for Mimi Faust participating in a sex tape, meanwhile he had nothing to say to Niko Smith, Faust’s boyfriend.) This study is just another example of how it plays out in our lives at such an early age.

And while sexting may seem harmless, it can have some major repercussions. There is a risk for starting with having these images passed around to other students and placed on the Internet, which can be incredibly embarrassing, lead to bullying and in some cases even suicide. Also, sexting may lead to risky sexual behavior among young people as well.

In the end, whether you choose to sext is completely up to you. Just be smart about why you’re doing it and who you’re sending these messages to.

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