The cyber world can be full of dirty tricks and sexual politics
The politics of sex and emotion are never simple. Over the course of generations — from Laclos’ Les Liaisions dangereuses to House of Cards — sex has been used as a power tool to manipulate and disgrace, because sex has been, and in Sri Lanka still is, a tool used to make people feel violated at worst and uncomfortable at best. Knowing this, why do we put ourselves into situations that we are sure can harm us?
One, because being sexy feels good; it’s how humans are conditioned. Two, because it’s often seen as a gesture of trust: I’m sharing my body with you to show you how much I love you. But there’s just one problem. When done over the internet or on social media platforms, this most intimate of interactions becomes the most public of issues. Let’s put it this way: anything shared on digital media platforms is not yours. You stop owning it the minute you hit that ‘send’ button. Suddenly, your chest or your vagina is on display to the world, should people care to look closely enough. If hackers can get into Jennifer Lawrence’s iCloud account, trust me, it’s not that hard to get into yours.
It’s too easy to say that women should be blamed because they shared the pictures of their own volition. Was it stupid? Yes. And true enough, they have been warned about such expositions. But they never signed a commercial release; it’s important to understand that what they did was risky, but not wrong. It’s never wrong to take agency of your body — it’s wrong when that agency is exploited and when your body is not yours anymore. And the party threatening to release the images is wholly and solely to blame.
Choosing to not send nude pictures or suggestive texts to your partner does not mean choosing not to trust him; it means choosing not to trust social media and the digital ether, which is one of the wisest decisions you can make. Far from stopping you being intimate, it encourages you to be intimate in person and not through a digital device. The next time you’re in the mood for some hanky-panky, instead of telling your significant other exactly what you want to do to him (because revealing without a chase is so blasé. You’re better than that, girls.), try telling him in a subtle manner what’s on your mind, like “Honey, I’m thinking about that time we watched Safe Haven. I can’t wait to watch it with you again, in exactly that way,” or “That day at the beach was beautiful. I’m thinking we should do it again soon.” Be specific enough with time and place, and he’ll get it.
Or forget texting already. Need some excitement? You’re well equipped to satisfy yourself without the beeping of a phone. Thinking of all the amazing things you have experienced with him can be enough to get you going and take you to your destination faster than painfully delayed messages. The other alternative is to meet him one on one (oh yea!). Rather than digitally courting or romancing, try to find some time for just the two of you where you can get to know each other’s likes and dislikes in person.
We know it’s hard, but it’s worth the effort. You both get to experience beautiful things without putting one person at risk of being a potential victim.
Okay, you get it! So let’s look at the flip side. Sex can sometimes be just that: sex. Basic connection, no obligation, no follow up, and no relationship. Quick, clinical, and digital…and just as amazing. Sex can mean different things to different people. That’s the beauty and the danger of it. So if you’re not the commitment type and just like the thrill, nobody can stop you from sending kinky texts and pics (you have ownership after your own body, after all), but puh-lease remember that all thrills mean that you’re taking risks and whether or not these risks are justifiable, they can have severe consequences in a Sri Lankan environment. Still comfortable with it? Sure thing. Here are some ways you can protect yourself:
Never put your face in any picture.
Avoid taking pictures of your body that showcase distinctive birthmarks or jewellery.
There are other ways to be sexy without baring all. Try an arty picture that leaves something to the imagination.
Make sure you take your photos against a nondescript background—no shampoo bottles in bathrooms or photo frames above your bed should appear in the image.
Have a serious conversation with the recipient of these images and sexts, and tell him what a big deal this is to you and how much trust this indicates. Talk about how the both of you will handle these images in the eventuality of a break up. It’s not mushy speak, but it’s important. Just remember that he may not always follow what you’ve decided. A broken heart is a hard thing to rationalize.
It’s not cool if you’re pushed to do something in which you have no interest. Use your imagination on this one. It is ALWAYS okay to say no, even in the middle of the conversation.And there’s always a way to retreat.
This article was originally published as ‘Bare Naked’ in the April 2016 issue of Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka. To read the whole article, subscribe now and get a free April issue.
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