Sexting, Like Sex Itself, Is A Consent Minefield For Teen Girls

Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
It's not uncommon for teen girls to feel pressure to have sex before they're ready — so it may not be entirely surprising that they also feel pressure to send sexts, too.
While sexting can be great for your relationship (and can be a safer means of exploring sexuality than actually having sex before you're ready), a report from Northwestern University published on Wednesday found that adolescent girls are facing a lot of pressure to send sexts or sexual images and nudes when they don't want to.
Researchers looked at 462 self-reported stories that teens girls posted to A Thin Line, an anonymous online platform focused on digital abuse, and found that teen girls who were asked to send nudes to young men were "overwhelmed, confused, tired, [and] bombarded" over whether or not to do so.
They also struggled as to whether to say yes or no, but according to the study, "Young women attempted to navigate young men’s coercive behaviours yet frequently resorted to compliance."
"Teenage girls know the potential risks and are disinclined to do it, yet they continue to share the images anyway," study author Sara Thomas said in a statement shared with Refinery29. "They struggle to say no."
Sexting may be good for relationships, but another study from earlier this year found that women were more likely than men to have negative experiences while sexting. That isn't particularly shocking, given how often women are subjected to non-consensual dick pics and even revenge porn.
In fact, while the teen girls in Northwestern's study indicated being aware of some of the negative consequences of sexting or sending nudes, they did so anyway out of pressure. Their concern over those repercussions, the study said, were superseded by the more immediate day-to-day pressures they faced, such as wanting a relationship with the person they were sending sexual texts to, promises of love and trustworthiness, persistent requests, anger, harassment, and threats.
"Faced with these pressures, young women often acquiesced to young men’s terms for romantic and sexual engagement," Thomas said. "While many young women took on the responsibility of negotiating these pressures, they were also confused and didn’t have the tools to cope."
Of course, that's not to say that young women shouldn't sext at all — but it's important to look at the pressures teen girls face when it comes to sex, and just how widespread they are.
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