A story about Alexis, a 16-year-old student at Paul VI Catholic high school in Fairfax, Virginia, is getting a lot of attention. After the teen was allegedly expelled from school for sending her friend, who's a boy, a topless photo of herself, many of us are left wondering what happened to this male student, whose actions led the photo to be sent around campus.
The kid had sent Alexis' sext to a buddy, who sent it to a buddy, and suddenly, her photo had been seen by the entire lacrosse team. So did these boys also get in trouble?
According to Alexis and her mother, no. Not at all. In fact, Jezebel reports that in a meeting with the school's principal, Alexis was asked by school officials "what justice" she thought the boys should receive -- Alexis originally thought they were asking her what kind of punishment would fit their crime, but quickly realized they were actually asking her how she was going to make it up to them for sending them such a distributing image.
The boys, it sounds, were treated as victims and were let go not only without punishment, let alone a warning, but essentially with a pat on the back for their bravery during such a trying time.
And I think we all need to ask: Why. Was it because the boys are lacrosse players already signed to Division One schools? Was it because Paul VI has a history of bending over backwards for their athletes (something I can attest to, having gone to a nearby high school)? Was it because girls can't sext, but boys can?
Because I'm not clear on the difference between originating a sext and forwarding one. At the end of the day, isn't anyone who's sent a sext, someone who's sent a sext? The boys got the topless photo and texted it around -- how is that, on the most basic level, not the same as what Alexis did, if not worse? Assuming that the sext originator is a willing participant in any and all forwarding is exploitative, dangerous, illegal, and absurd.
The message we send our teens about sexting needs to be clear and unanimous -- boys and girls should be told the same thing. There's nothing forgivable nor OK about forwarding a sext, just as there's nothing, at this age, OK about sending one.
When we let those who forward racy pics get away with it, we're sort of perpetuating the old boys will be boys, hardy har har mentality that throws society back into the Stone Age. It's insulting to boys to pretend as if they don't know better. They do. That's why they do it in private.
It's clear that Alexis made a poor decision to send a photo of her bare breasts to a male classmate, but those boys who sent it around are just as guilty of sending a sext as she is, and should face consequences.
Do you think there's a double-standard when it comes to sexting?
Photo via jhaymesisviphotography/Flickr