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Young Men Speak on Sexting: It’s Normal, but Complicated

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Young men on sexting: it’s normal, but complicated

by Signe Ravn and Stephen Roberts for The Conversation

Concern about the popularity of “sexting” – the sending and receiving of sexually explicit text messages and photographs – among young people has been a frequent point of discussion in recent years.

The media and some academic studies often draw attention to issues of risk, danger, and the often- gendered negative outcomes of sexting.

These include concerns sexting can lead to sexual harassment, such as receiving unwanted “dick pics” and pressures for women, in particular, to send their own nude images.

Another frequently mentioned concern is the potential legal implications of possessing or circulating such images electronically .Such negative consequences are serious and need our attention. However, this focus is often at the expense of a more nuanced understanding of sexting and how it is part of young people’s lives.

Young men value respect in sexting

Our own sociological research, drawing on ten focus groups of undergraduate male students in Melbourne, provides some important insights into this. Our study differs from previous studies on sexting in a couple of ways.

First, our sample of participants was slightly older (aged 18-22) than those in other studies. Furthermore, all our participants were men, which may seem somewhat unusual. But this group is very rarely heard in research on this topic and we need to understand how young men view sexting if we are to address the negative consequences mentioned above.

As in other studies, one of our most important findings is that sexting is a normalised part of young people’s romantic and sexual lives.

Among our participants, who all had some experience with romantic relationships, sexting is a way of flirting and forming new relationships, as well as developing an ongoing relationship with an existing partner.

Sexting was also clearly distinct from harassment, which for our participants was characterised by one-way communication and the crossing of boundaries. In contrast, sexting was almost uniformly understood as reliant on consent and mutuality.

As one participant said, it is transactional in the sense of, I’ll give you this much, and they’ll give you this much, but you give them X, and they give you X plus one, and then you’ll give them X plus two. […] I think that’s where the mutuality comes into it, you both are getting a thrill out of, ‘Oh, what are they going to do next?‘

And in another focus group, a participant described why consent is important:Well yeah, because [then] you know where the other person stands. Otherwise, you could definitely say that it’s harassment. I would genuinely class it as sexual harassment.

These are positive findings and suggest notions of respect and mutual engagement are paramount to young people who engage in sexting.

Not wanting to be seen as a ‘creep’

There are several more complex points to unpack, though. Our participants repeatedly mentioned the importance of not “crossing the line” when sexting. This means not transgressing the boundaries of the other person and making sure the sexting is an “escalating, mutual thing”, as another participant said.

However, participants also described an element of self-interest in moderating one’s behaviour while sexting. The following quotes from a focus group discussion illustrates some of these complexities (names are pseudonyms):

Moderator: But why would you stop? If you feel the other person is uncomfortable?
Matt: You don’t want to be seen as weird.
Tim: You don’t want to creep them out.
Liam: Well, given that you’re trying to get some sort of sexual connection with this person, you wouldn’t want to compromise your chances further, by having them think that you’re some massive creep.
Liam: Yeah, true, because they could pass on that information.

So, while making sure to not “cross the line” is partly based on respect for the other person, it would also be detrimental to building a “sexual connection” with that person, or with others in the future.

Why asking for consent can ‘ruin the vibe’

Our research also highlighted the gendered differences and double standards at play in sexting, as depicted from the perspectives of the young men.

Pictures of young women’s bodies and body parts (breasts, vaginas) were seen as having more value, and being in higher demand, than men’s body parts. But women were also seen to be exposed to greater risks than men when engaging in sexting, including the risk of “slut shaming”.

This is in line with what international studies have found.

While our participants were often aware of these gendered differences in terms of how “sexts” from men and women are perceived, this was seen as a problem at societal level and not something they could change.

As a result, it did not mean that they stopped sexting. In that sense, sexting can be seen as involving greater risks for women than men.

Our participants were generally aware of the need, and benefits, of asking for consent before sending a sext. But they also described how this was difficult, because explicitly asking for consent would either “ruin the vibe” or reveal their lack of expertise in sexting.

Indeed, our participants described an almost mythological belief that every young person knows how to sext, which they felt was far from their own reality. Learning how to sext was “learning by doing”, on your own and without advice from others.

Similarly, establishing consent had to happen in subtle ways. As a result, they mentioned feeling insecure and often nervous about sexting “well”.

What young people need to know and educators need to assist with

Sexting is a normalised part of contemporary young lives. Because of this, learning the “skills” of appropriate and respectful sexting is something that should be part of the sex education curriculum in schools.

Rather than trying to tell students to simply abstain from sexting, we should support them to do it in respectful ways.

Translating the findings of this research into tangible strategies in sex education is an important task for educators. By assisting young people to “sext” in appropriate ways, for instance by identifying alternative ways of establishing consent and avoiding “victim-blaming”, we can take one step towards destigmatising the practice.


Signe Ravn is a Senior lecturer in Sociology at the University of Melbourne. Steven Roberts is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Monash University.

The Conversation publishes knowledge-based journalism that is responsible, ethical and supported by evidence from academics and researchers in order to inform public debate with facts, clarity and insight into society’s biggest problems.

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Health

County Hospitals Receive 300 iPads for Patients to See Family

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LOS ANGELES – 300 iPads have been donated to Los Angeles County hospitals to facilitate patient-family communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. The gift is through a partnership with the Annenberg Foundation, Brilliant Corners, and the Los Angeles County Center for Strategic Partnerships.

“The engagement of loved ones during hospitalization has been shown to improve clinical outcomes,” said DHS Director, Dr. Christina Ghaly. “Clinical staff identified a role for virtual visiting through technology in order to facilitate this family involvement. The generous donations by the Annenberg Foundation and MobileDemand will help support this critical element of our patients’ care.” 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, patient visitation by family and loved ones is limited at facilities in order to prevent exposure and the spread of disease. While there are some exceptions, such as the birth of a child or death of a patient, visitation is not permitted for the vast majority of patients and not allowed at all for COVID-19 patients. 

The donation provides 300 iPads to ensure patients and their families are able to connect, despite restrictions in access to the hospital. A second donation, by MobileDemand, provides rugged, protective healthcare iPad cases to protect against damage and loss. The rugged case also has an adjustable easel attached, providing effortless viewing for patients who are too weak to hold a tablet. Additionally, it frees health care staff from having to hold the device for patients.

“This is a wonderful example of how philanthropic organizations, nonprofits, government, and businesses can collaborate and meet an immediate need in our community,” said Wallis Annenberg, Chairman, President and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation. “Being able to offer an opportunity for comfort and connection to those suffering and to alleviate some of the stress from our frontline caregivers is of utmost importance.”

While social distancing has been successful in flattening the curve of the COVID-19 surge in Los Angeles County, it is anticipated that it will continue for several months. With this gift, physicians and nurses will be able to place an iPad in the room of COVID and other critically-ill patients for the duration of the admission and reduce potential exposure and use of personal protective equipment going in and out of the room. Having a stationary iPad helps relieve medical staff who would otherwise have to hold the phone for a patient or search for the person’s personal phone. It also will allow patients who do not have a personal mobile device to communicate and “visit” with their family.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) is the second largest municipal health system in the nation. Through its integrated system of 26 health centers and four hospitals – LAC+USC Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center – and expanded network of community partner clinics, DHS annually provides direct care for 600,000 unique patients, employs over 22,000 staff, and has an annual budget of over $6 billion.

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Processions to Cedars Will Salute Healthcare Workers on National Nurses Day

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The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is putting a strain on essential workers such as first responders and healthcare workers who are on the frontlines in the effort to care for coronavirus patients so the City of West Hollywood is setting out to recognize them in a special way on May 6.

National Nurses Day is a day of recognition to celebrate and honor the contributions that nurses have made and continue to make in our communities and throughout the nation. National Nurses Day is celebrated annually on May 6, which marks the beginning of National Nurses Week, a week-long celebration to raise awareness of the value of nursing and educate the public on the role nurses play in meeting the healthcare needs of Americans. National Nurses Week concludes on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, or as she was more commonly known, “The Lady of the Lamp” and founder of modern nursing.

The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is coordinating two motorcades to honor healthcare workers on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, which is nationally recognized as National Nurses Day. The processions will begin at 9:45 a.m. and at 7:15 p.m. on Santa Monica Boulevard at La Cienega Boulevard and the motorcades will head west and then travel southbound on N. San Vicente Boulevard passing multiple medical center locations in West Hollywood en route to a destination outside the emergency room entrance of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Gracie Allen Drive. First responders will briefly stop, exit their vehicles and applaud healthcare workers while wearing face coverings and practicing appropriate social distancing.

“Our nurses and healthcare workers are nothing short of heroes,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore Lindsey P. Horvath. “The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us just how critical their work is to our everyday health and safety. This National Nurses Day means so much more to all of us — the City of West Hollywood and our LA County Sheriff’s West Hollywood Station and LA County Fire Stations; the City of Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills Police and Fire; the City of Los Angeles and LAPD and LAFD; the California Highway Patrol, and more — and we will honor these heroes in a special way for the care that they provide, which often goes unseen and unrecognized, in carrying us through this crisis.”

“As the worldwide response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, the critical importance of nurses in our society has been brought sharply into focus,” said City of West Hollywood Councilmember John Heilman. “More often than not, when a coronavirus patient ends up in a hospital, it is the nurses at the frontlines who are responsible for their care and treatment, putting themselves at risk in the process. We can’t say ‘thank you’ strongly enough.”

The City of West Hollywood encourages residents and community members to participate during this day of celebration while still adhering to LA County Safer At Home Orders and social distancing requirements. Suggested forms of participation include amplifying posts on social media channels, making yard or window signs and banners, participating in a coordinated daily applause or shout out for nurses and healthcare workers, and donating to organizations that are addressing the emerging needs of nurses and healthcare workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) health pandemic.

According to the American Nursing Association, nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession, with more than four million registered nurses in the United States. Registered nurses comprise one of the largest segments of the U.S. workforce and are the primary providers of hospital patient care, delivering most of the nation’s long-term care. In nursing, where workers are on the front lines of patient interactions, women make up more than 85 percent of the workforce. This year, with the onset of coronavirus, nurses have stepped up and shown the incredible impact they have on our healthcare system. It is more important than ever that we recognize National Nurses Day and celebrate the significance of nurses every day.

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Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions

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Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions

(TMZ) — It’s becoming more clear by the day that wet markets are NOT just a China problem — it’s an American problem too … just take a look at these latest clips from Texas and California.

TMZ has gotten a hold of even more graphic videos of two different live animal shops in TX and CA — where people pick out the animal, have it slaughtered on the spot and then sold to them right then and there — and you see the mixed-in livestock runs the gamut.

There are pigs in pens, goats and sheep hoarded together … and, of course, as we’ve seen in New York and elsewhere — chicken and rabbits cooped up in cages — all in the same area within earshot of each other, and all getting butchered.

Ya got pigs hanging from hooks out in the open, chicken beaks, feathers and guts all over the floor and in an exposed trash can — this while customers (including kids) come in and browse the freezer for whatever cuts of meat they want. It’s downright dirty and gross.

As we’ve been told by the experts, these one-stop-shop slaughterhouses/storefronts can be breeding grounds for disease — including new viruses, like COVID-19, which supposedly got started at a wet market in China.

We already know of lawmakers in Cali and New York working to get these things shut down, but it’s pretty apparent there needs to be federal legislation rolled out to address this. Can’t call the kettle black when we’re swimming in the freakin’ pot.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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