[The Pro Circuit] Reckless Teen Sluts Drunk on Vodka and Root Beer (March 2009)

[The Pro Circuit] Reckless Teen Sluts Drunk On Vodka and Root Beer

Officials in Ohio are trying to revise the state laws on porn to put the brakes on an “epidemic” that is destroying the moral fiber of the country. I’m referring, of course, to “Sexting.”

You’ve surely encountered the term if you read the newspapers, but in case you don’t, I’ll enlighten you: “sexting”? This clever term combines — wait for it — “sex” and “texting.” “Sexting,” and I can’t stop putting it in quotes because it’s such a fantastically boneheaded word — is sending nude pictures of one’s self via text message, which doesn’t sound like text to me, but whatever. “Sexting” is in the news in Ohio because, according to an AVN story on the issue, last week two Ohio teens were charged with misdemeanors after the cops found naked pictures of classmates on their phones. Under state law, they could have been charged with felonies, and, if convicted, required to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel said “These are illegal and dangerous actions and must be stopped.”

Illegal, sure — but dangerous? Last year an Ohio girl committed suicide after her ex-boyfriend shared a naked picture she’d sent him while the two were dating. This is one of the main reasons Ohio officials are claiming “sexting” needs to be stopped — it can be fatal. I don’t mean to make light out of teen suicide, but does the supposed specific source of teen despair in a suicide case really need to drive legal decisions?

Trading nude pictures of one another is an increasingly common, therefore potentially problematic, part of adolescence — just like drinking or smoking pot or speeding or driving drunk. Like any of those things, it’s also a terrible idea for teens in legal terms.

Anyone under 18 who trades a nude picture or him or herself is clearly guilty of distributing child pornography — just ask the six 14-to-17-year-olds arrested in Greenburg, Pennsylvania month before last on child porn charges after three girls — defendants — took nude pictures of themselves and emailed them to three boys — also defendants — six, see? Both creators and recipients are liable here, the girls for producing and distributing child porn, and the boys for possessing it. And — back to Ohio — in October another Ohio girl, this one 15, was charged with felonies after distributing a nude photo of herself to a 13 year old classmate.

Publications as diverse as the Times Online, Ars Technica seem determined to whip up public opinion about this epidemic, with other writers holding down the “Huh?” end of the argument.

Allow me to add my voice to the “Huh” chorus: this is another moral panic, pure and simple, and what’s shocking to me is that parents still believe they can hand kids the technological tools of independence — with clearly filthy applications — and then abandon them, and the kids would never do a filthy thing with them, because parents seem incapable of understanding that teenagers are horny, rebellious, and quite often reckless.

What the hell do these people think teenagers do all day? When I was a kid, my parents trusted me because I’d made it to high school without appreciably fucking up my life. They gave me plenty of leeway to fuck it up from there on out, and from 15-18 I did, if the moral panics are to be believed; I did every horrible thing a kid can do, or at least everything I cared to, and could convince somebody to do with me and I could afford and I could not get caught doing. I looked at porn, I smoked mari-J-uana, I had sex. I eventually even watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I drank beer, I drank wine, I drank copious amounts of champagne and vomited it back up again. I drank vodka-and-root beer because my whiskey-and-coke order got altered in transit when the morally-bankrupt procurers of liquor-for-teens drank all the whiskey and then drank all the coke and then said “Well what the fuck? It all tastes like ass, so here’s vodka and root beer.” Have you ever actually mixed vodka and root beer? If you had, you’d be screaming for a moral panic, I guarantee, and demanding legislation.

Oh, and while we’re at it, did I mention I wrote about half a million words of explicit heroic-fantasy pornography, with ghost rape and goo-drenched monsterfucking, before I reached my majority? Nobody emailed it to me; I didn’t even have a computer. I scrawled it in longhand, on binder paper, and then burned it because I thought Jesus would hate me if I didn’t get rid of it — and I’d face the wrath of God. Or, even worse, it would get discovered by some snooping family member and then oh, fuck, I’d be mortified. Adolescence was far from G-rated for me, and this was all before digital cameras.

I am far from a poster child for the “I turned out alright” wing of the “don’t freak out” movement, so I’m not claiming everything’s cool because I turned out OK — I’m not quite convinced that I did. But in those days I was reckless — I risked getting caught — because I was forced to be that way. I was not allowed to buy porn, so I wrote it. I could not get drunk at home, so I got drunk at parties and had to scam a ride home and sneak in the back. But as reckless as I was, I behaved responsibly enough not to drive drunk or do plenty of other things. I learned my own boundaries and risk-management skills, pertinent to my situation.

If I’d gotten caught, I would have been in big trouble, as I would have been in big trouble for writing half a million words of filthy goo-drenched monsterfucking pr0n0. If the fathers of the girls I eventually shared my porn with had found the stuff? They might even have taken a swing at me, in a time-honored tradition of tightass-fathers-opposing-corruption. I would have been in deep shit. Oh, Lordy, would I have been lectured! I might even have been grounded.

But a felon? A sex offender? Somebody whose bunkmate set fire to the gymnasium or shot another kid in the ass in a drive-by? Spare me.

Lighten up, America: This isn’t the apocalypse.

Teach kids risk management, don’t throw them in juvie.

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