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Teen girls, sexual double standards and 'sexting': Gendered value in digital image exchange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Jessica Ringrose, Laura Harvey, Rosalind Gill, Sonia Livingstone

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-323
Number of pages19
JournalFeminist Theory
Issue number3
PublishedDec 2013

King's Authors


This article explores gender inequities and sexual double standards in teens' digital image exchange, drawing on a UK qualitative research project on youth 'sexting'. We develop a critique of 'postfeminist' media cultures, suggesting teen 'sexting' presents specific age and gender related contradictions: teen girls are called upon to produce particular forms of 'sexy' self display, yet face legal repercussions, moral condemnation and 'slut shaming' when they do so. We examine the production/circulation of gendered value and sexual morality via teens' discussions of activities on Facebook and Blackberry. For instance, some boys accumulated 'ratings' by possessing and exchanging images of girls' breasts, which operated as a form of currency and value. Girls, in contrast, largely discussed the taking, sharing or posting of such images as risky, potentially inciting blame and shame around sexual reputation (e.g. being called 'slut', 'slag' or 'sket'). The daily negotiations of these new digitally mediated, heterosexualised, classed and raced norms of performing teen feminine and masculine desirability are considered.

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