The role of betrayal in sexting

Well put: “A brokered trust leads to broken trust when those photos are sent into the ether,” writes Ellen Goodman in a column about sexting in the Boston Globe. The vast majority of those naked photos are sent to romantic partners, experts say, with “a guy saying, ‘You don’t trust me? You won’t send me a naked picture?'” And what happens later that can lead to serious psychological and legal trouble (the wider sharing of those photos) is often about betrayed trust. Little of this is new – photography (remember Polaroids at parties?), brokered and betrayed trust in relationships, sexism (betrayed girls get called sluts while the betrayer gets to go ruin someone else’s reputation). What is new is the *extra* unintended exposure (party Polaroids could possibly be obtained, ripped up, and tossed). That exposure is mostly bad. Goodman led with the bad part – high-profile cases of teens being subjected to truly nasty peer behavior or overzealous prosecutors or both (Vermont, Utah, and Ohio are all trying to reduce the possibility of criminal charges for sexting, the Globe reports). But the one ray of light is that there’s a national discussion about the need to “Trust but verify,” adjust laws and apply them appropriately, and “raise the social penalty for being a certified creep.”

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