School That Punished Girl, But Not Boys, for Sexting Is Giving Great Lesson in Misogyny

Rant 13

girl textingA 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

sex, school


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nonmember avatar krelia

Root cause of the matter was the initial topless picture. If that wasn't sent, then nothing else would've occurred. I do not feel its a double standard unless it was a guy sending his junk to a girl in the same school and not getting expelled

mamat... mamatreat

Are you kidding Krelia? Yes, she sent it in the first place but you really don't think these other kids deserve to be punished? When a kid in my high school stole a final exam and distributed it everyone that had a copy was punished. I don't see how it should be any different then sexting. Not to mention if the girl was under 18 the boy she sent it out should be charged with distributing  child pornography. As should she. We shouldn't be teaching our kids that this is ok, and we certainly shouldn't be teaching them if they receive a text like that that they should just keep passing it on. 

Todd Vrancic

I must disagree, krelia.  The boy allegedly solicited the picture.  He then forwarded it.  The last boy who received the picture is POSSIBLY a victim if he didn't solicit the picture.  Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander, as they say.

fleur... fleurdelys3110

The boys committed a crime...dissemination of child pornography. By law, they must be punished. Also, I can't say I'm surprised that a Catholic school is the one with this controversy.

nonmember avatar Lilac

This article doesn't mention it but this was a private catholic school, where girls are always treated harsher and these boys were on the elite lacrosse team with colleges already offering them money and scholarships. For the school to avoid scandal they thought it best to get ride of the "tempting harlot" then disrupt the good future of these "all American" boys.

LostS... LostSoul88

We live in a sexist society. It has always been that way adn always will be if us women don't start putting our foot down. 

mande... manderspanders

So, you all think that the girl *shouldn't* be punished? Why shouldn't the girl be responsible for her own actions?? 

The boys should be punished too. That would be right. 

But, let's not disregard the fact that this girl was horridly irresponsible herself and deserves punishment for her actions, too.

mande... manderspanders

@fleurdelys: so did the girl! she created it and disseminated it. They should all be punished. She doesn't get a pass because she's a girl.


fleur... fleurdelys3110

I agree with you manders! I didn't say that she shouldn't. I just said that the boys needed to punished for their part in it.

nonmember avatar Jez

She took a topless photo of herself and sent it to 2 guys, if a guy had taken pictures of his gentials and sent it to a girl, it would have been called sexual harassment. She lost all expectation of privacy when she sent that picture.

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