Teen girls feel ‘bombarded’ by requests for nude photos
47 0 0 teen girls feel ‘bombarded’ by requests for nude photos 13 6. Tanenbaum is editorial director at Barnard College and the author most recently of I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet. In a December study of sexting among 12- to 18-year-old girls, Sara E.
Thomas of Northwestern University analyzed 462 stories posted to an online, anonymous platform. She reports that most of the girls felt pressured to comply with requests to send naked photos of themselves to boys who demanded them. In middle schools and high schools around the country, this exchange tends to uplift boys’ popularity at the expense of girls’ reputations. Some boys collect photos of girls like playing cards, assigning value to each image.
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Even girls whose images are considered valuable are cheapened. Today, teens still inhabit a culture that says that boys will be boys, and girls will be sluts. Their experiences show that women are routinely treated as sex objects and punished for doing what is expected of them. Many in high school and college confirmed what the study shows—that they send naked photos of themselves because they feel they have to, not because they want to.
So she sent him a picture of herself in her bra. A 15-year-old girl in New York City shared that a boy she knew from church sent unsolicited photos of his penis to two of her friends. It means he’s looking for something in return. Many girls become resigned to the pressure.
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When girls try to outsmart the system and protect their privacy by sending headless shots, they’re told that headless isn’t good enough: only photos with faces have value. In 2015, students at Colorado’s Cañon City High School, assigned different point values to different students, so some photo collections were more valuable than others. This environment of commodification conditions heterosexual girls to believe that the only way to get boys’ attention is to take off their clothes. Certainly not all girls are coerced into sending nude photos. Many choose to send photos of themselves in an effort to present themselves as sexually sophisticated and in control of their bodies.
This strategy is logical and reasonable given that in today’s theater of wall-to-wall social media surveillance, girls’ bodies are tracked, judged and policed like never before. But none of us can control our image, and the circulation of nude or semi-nude photos poses consequences primarily for girls. When a boy sends a picture of a nude body part, girls tend to laugh. His photo is regarded as humorous or obnoxious but not shameful: the act of photographing oneself when you’re a boy is seen as within the bounds of acceptable male behavior.
How come when girls as young as 12 are bombarded with photos of guys’ penises and then they reciprocate, it’s only the girls who are shamed? Many people are confused about why women are coming forward, many for the first time after years of silence, with stories about sexual activity they never sought out, wanted or consented to. TIME Ideas hosts the world’s leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors. TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice. The 13-year-old boy sat in his California home, eyes fixed on a computer screen.
He had never run with the popular crowd and long ago had turned to the Internet for the friends he craved. But on this day, Justin Berry’s fascination with cyberspace would change his life. Weeks before, Justin had hooked up a Web camera to his computer, hoping to use it to meet other teenagers online. Instead, he heard only from men who chatted with him by instant message as they watched his image on the Internet.
To Justin, they seemed just like friends, ready with compliments and always offering gifts. 50 to sit bare-chested in front of his Webcam for three minutes. I figured, I took off my shirt at the pool for nothing,” he said recently. So, I was kind of like, what’s the difference?
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The men watching him oozed compliments. So began the secret life of a teenager who was lured into selling images of his body on the Internet over the course of five years. Justin’s dark coming-of-age story is a collateral effect of recent technological advances. Minors, often under the online tutelage of adults, are opening for-pay pornography sites featuring their own images sent onto the Internet by inexpensive Webcams. The business has created youthful Internet pornography stars — with nicknames like Riotboyy, Miss Honey and Gigglez — whose images are traded online long after their sites have vanished.
In this world, adolescents announce schedules of their next masturbation for customers who pay fees for the performance or monthly subscription charges. A six-month investigation by The New York Times into this corner of the Internet found that such sites had emerged largely without attracting the attention of law enforcement or youth protection organizations. We’ve been aware of the use of the Webcam and its potential use by exploiters,” said Ernest E. Allen, chief executive of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a private group. But this is a variation on a theme that we haven’t seen.
Minors who run these sites find their anonymity amusing, joking that their customers may be the only adults who know of their activities. It is, in the words of one teenage site operator, the “Webcam Matrix,” a reference to the movie in which a computerized world exists without the knowledge of most of humanity. In this virtual universe, adults hunt for minors on legitimate sites used by Webcam owners who post contact information in hopes of attracting friends. If children respond to messages, adults spend time “grooming” them — with praise, attention and gifts — before seeking to persuade them to film themselves pornographically. The lure is the prospect of easy money. Many teenagers solicit “donations,” request gifts through sites like Amazon. But there are other beneficiaries, including businesses, some witting and some unwitting, that provide services to the sites like Web hosting and payment processing.
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Not all victims profit, with some children ending up as pornographic commodities inadvertently, even unknowingly. Adolescents have appeared naked on their Webcams as a joke, or as presents for boyfriends or girlfriends, only to have their images posted on for-pay pornography sites. Entry into this side of cyberspace is simplicity itself. 20, and the number of them being used has mushroomed to 15 million, according to IDC, an industry consulting group. At the same time, instant messaging programs have become ubiquitous, and high-speed connections, allowing for rapid image transmission, are common.
The scale of Webcam child pornography is unknown, because it is new and extremely secretive. One online portal that advertises for-pay Webcam sites, many of them pornographic, lists at least 585 sites created by teenagers, internal site records show. The Times inquiry has already resulted in a large-scale criminal investigation. In June, The Times located Justin Berry, then 18.
In interviews, Justin revealed the existence of a group of more than 1,500 men who paid for his online images, as well as evidence that other identifiable children as young as 13 were being actively exploited. In a series of meetings, The Times persuaded Justin to abandon his business and, to protect other children at risk, assisted him in contacting the Justice Department. Arrests and indictments of adults he identified as pornography producers and traffickers began in September. Investigators are also focusing on businesses, including credit card processors that have aided illegal sites. The fact that we are getting so many potential targets, people who knowingly bought into a child pornographic Web site, could lead to hundreds of other subjects and potentially save hundreds of other kids that we are not aware of yet,” said Monique Winkis, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who is working the case. Law enforcement officials also said that, with the cooperation of Justin, they had obtained a rare guide into this secluded online world whose story illuminates the exploitation that takes place there.
I didn’t want these people to hurt any more kids,” Justin said recently of his decision to become a federal witness. I didn’t want anyone else to live the life I lived. Not long ago, the distribution of child pornography in America was a smallish trade, relegated to back rooms and corners where even the proprietors of X-rated bookstores refused to loiter. By the mid-1980’s, however, technology had transformed the business, with pedophiles going online to communicate anonymously and post images through rudimentary bulletin board systems.
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As the decade drew to a close, according to experts and records of online conversations, these adults began openly fantasizing of the day they would be able to reach out to children directly, through instant messaging and live video, to obtain the pornography they desired. Their dream was realized with the Web camera, which transformed online pornography the way the automobile changed transportation. 100, offered little more than grainy snapshots, “refreshed” a few times per minute. 20 Webcams could transmit high-quality continuous color video across the globe instantly. By 2000, things had worked out exactly the way the pedophiles hoped. Webcams were the rage among computer-savvy minors, creating a bountiful selection of potential targets.
That year, he was a gangly 13-year-old with saucer eyes and brown hair that he often dyed blond. He lived with his mother, stepfather and younger sister in Bakersfield, Calif. 90 miles north of Los Angeles. So Justin was fascinated when a friend showed off the free Webcam he had received for joining Earthlink, an Internet service provider. The device was simple and elegant. As Justin remembers it, he quickly signed up, too, eager for his own Webcam.
I didn’t really have a lot of friends,” he recalled, “and I thought having a Webcam might help me make some new ones online, maybe even meet some girls my age. As soon as Justin hooked the camera to his bedroom computer and loaded the software, his picture was automatically posted on spotlife. Internet directory of Webcam users, along with his contact information. Then he waited to hear from other teenagers. No one Justin’s age ever contacted him from that listing.
But within minutes he heard from his first online predator. That man was soon followed by another, then another. Justin remembers his earliest communications with these men as nonthreatening, pleasant encounters. There were some oddities — men who pretended to be teenage girls, only to slip up and reveal the truth later — but Justin enjoyed his online community. One explained how to put together a “wish list” on Amazon.
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Justin could ask for anything, including computer equipment, toys, music CD’s or movies. Anyone who knew his wish-list name — Justin Camboy — could buy him a gift. Amazon delivered the presents without revealing his address to the buyers. The men also filled an emotional void in Justin’s life. His relationship with his father, Knute Berry, was troubled. Berry was arrested and charged with slamming Justin’s head into a wall, causing an injury that required seven staples in his scalp.
The emotional turmoil left Justin longing for paternal affection, family members said. And the adult males he met online offered just that. They complimented me all the time,” Justin said. They told me I was smart, they told me I was handsome.
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In that, experts said, the eighth-grade boy’s experience reflected the standard methods used by predatory adults to insinuate themselves into the lives of minors they meet online. In these cases, there are problems in their own lives that make them predisposed to” manipulation by adults, Lawrence Likar, a former F. The predators know that and are able to tap into these problems and offer what appear to be solutions. Justin’s mother, Karen Page, said she sensed nothing out of the ordinary.
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Her son seemed to be just a boy talented with computers who enjoyed speaking to friends online. The Webcam, as she saw it, was just another device that would improve her son’s computer skills, and maybe even help him on his Web site development business. Everything I ever heard was that children should be exposed to computers and given every opportunity to learn from them,” Ms. She never guessed that one of her son’s first lessons after turning on his Webcam was that adults would eagerly pay him just to disrobe a little. It was as if the news shot around the Web. By appearing on camera bare-chested, Justin sent an important message: here was a boy who would do things for money. 100 for Justin to pose in his underwear.
Even more if the boxers came down. The latest request was always just slightly beyond the last, so that each new step never struck him as considerably different. How could adults be so organized at manipulating young people with Webcams? Unknown to Justin, they honed their persuasive skills by discussing strategy online, sharing advice on how to induce their young targets to go further at each stage.
Moreover, these adults are often people adept at manipulating teenagers. In its investigation, The Times obtained the names and credit card information for the 1,500 people who paid Justin to perform on camera, and analyzed the backgrounds of 300 of them nationwide. A majority of the sample consisted of doctors and lawyers, businessmen and teachers, many of whom work with children on a daily basis. Not long ago, adults sexually attracted to children were largely isolated from one another. But the Internet has created a virtual community where they can readily communicate and reinforce their feelings, experts said. Indeed, the messages they send among themselves provide not only self-justification, but also often blame minors with Webcam sites for offering temptation. These kids are the ones being manipulative,” wrote an adult who called himself Upandc in a posting this year to a bulletin board for adults attracted to children.
Or, as an adult who called himself DLW wrote: “Did a sexual predator MAKE them make a site? Did they decide to do it for themselves? Tempting as it may be for some in society to hold the adolescent Webcam operators responsible, experts in the field say that is misguided, because it fails to recognize the control that adults exercise over highly impressionable minors. The world will want to blame the kids, but the reality is, they are victims here,” said Mr.