A Teachable Moment? Cybersex, File Management & Slut Shaming

I suspect that a human being in Iowa City, IA is suffering from shock induced by embarrassment that could reasonably be described as mortified, and as time goes on will suffer from depression and PTSD.  I hope I am mistaken.

Perhaps the young woman who, managing her computer files and e-correspondence poorly, sent images of herself apparently masturbating to a group of students she is the Teaching Assistant for (see USA Today story here) has a remarkably strong self confidence and will weather well the shite storm of ridicule and infamy that has begun.  The probability that will be the case is, unfortunately, quite low.  So I imagine things are quite dark for her at present, and I urge you to don your Quioxote and push back against the tidal wave of slut shaming that has already begun.  Perhaps someone will bring it to her attention and reading your voice will bring her a sense that she is not alone.

Two of my friends, each of whom self identifies as a feminist, “reading from” their gender’s socially subscribed scripts in depressingly mundane fashion, the female posting to FB “How the heck do you accidentally send nude photos of yourself to students? Please…” and the male posting “Can’t wait to see her course evaluations!”  Le sigh…

The question my friend posted was rhetorical, but what the heck, I’ll take a stab at it.  One, you engage in cybersex and record images of it on your computer.  Two,  you don’t use folders, but keep all of your files on your computer’s desktop (yes, I am an aspie, and tremble a bit to even type that, but hey, people do it!).  Three, you overcommit yourself, find yourself trying to shove 10 lbs in a 5 lb sack, accidentally click on the wrong file as an attachment, and check a task off of your To Do list.  I assume, dear reader, that number three is all too familiar.  If that is so, then perhaps what distinguishes you from the woman being cyber shamed by the masses is number one and or two.

File management is sufficiently uninteresting (or in my case stressful) topic that I will leave it aside.  But cybersex is interesting, in my opinion.  I can think of five things that ought to sort the vast majority of us out of (into) the risk set for number one.

(1) Cybersex is unappealing to you.  Excellent!  Since,

THERE IS NO WRONG WAY FOR ADULTS TO HAVE CONSENSUAL SEX

folks who are disinterested in cybersex will not be at risk to inadvertently sharing nude photos of themselves they generated while engaged in cybersex.

(2) It has never occurred to you that you might use your computer, tablet, smartphone, etc. to engage in consensual activity.  Huh.  Well, um, I suppose this probably is not an empty set.  What to say….   Sorry?

(3) You would like to engage in cybersex with a willing partner, but cannot find one.  That is a bummer, indeed.

(4) You and your partner(s) would like to engage in cybersex, but the risk of social humiliation (some company is recording your session; your partner might record without your permission; someone might hack the Wi-Fi and watch / record you; etc.) deters you from doing so.

(5) You and your partner(s) thought cybersex sounded intriguing, so you tried it out (and perhaps are now an enthusiast).

The TA in Iowa is one of (tens of?) millions of Americans who happily and healthily enjoy cybersex.  Yawn.  Who cares?  Oh, right.  Most of y’all like to gawk and rubberneck at gossip about peoples’ sex lives.  And this is a great cautionary tale: anyone in the risk set (number 5) can identify with the mortification (unless they are clucking at her file management), and those who are not in the risk set can cluck at the folly of the slut who should have known better, but has earned her just desserts.  Le double sigh…

So, if I may ask a favor: please try to recognize when you are judging other adults’ consensual sexual choices, and strive not to do so.  Perhaps we will learn that the TA in Iowa knowingly and wittingly attached that file to the email she sent to her students, but that strikes me as fabulously unlikely. And if you agree, then she did it in error, and I ask you to consider how you would feel if she was your friend, sister, mother, etc.  Having done that, imagine that she was your brother, male friend, or father.  Does changing her gender matter?  Why?

@WilHMoo

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About Will H. Moore

I am a political science professor who also contributes to Political Violence @ a Glance and sometimes to Mobilizing Ideas . Twitter: @WilHMoo
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