Creating nudes and sharing them seems to be part of human nature. A collection of poems, stories and memoir on the subject, it takes a long hard look at the contemporary — and seemingly timeless — habit of sharing images of the naked human form. The idea came to editor Julianne Ingles after a short story entitled Send Nudes was submitted for a previous anthology she was working on. In Bronzino's portrait of the admiral Andrea Doria, his subject chose to be depicted in the mostly-naked, muscular form of the sea god Neptune Credit: Alamy. But since the advent of smartphones, sending nudes has also become normalised incredibly quickly: any woman who's been on a dating app in the last decade will likely have been asked to share nude pictures with eyebrow-lifting speed. But Ingles reminds me that sending nudes isn't really new: "When I was in my early twenties, I sent nudes to someone — this was before the internet, so it was Polaroids".
What is sexting?
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What teenagers wish their parents knew about sexting
Sexting is making sexually suggestive images and sharing these images using mobile phones or by posting them on the internet and social media. The images might be photographs of yourself or someone else naked or partially naked. You might think that sexting is something risky, dangerous and illegal. For teenagers, sexting is often fun and consensual. They might also see sexting as part of building relationships and self-confidence, and exploring sexuality, bodies and identities. Young people do worry about their images being shared with other people, including friends and family members. Many try to reduce this risk by making images only for people they trust, and with whom they have or hope to have a romantic or intimate relationship.
Young Australians are peppered with advice and threats over the dangers of sending explicit images of themselves. But experts say both the law and the curriculum is lagging behind experience, and too often girls take the blame and face the shame. When Erin was 17, she went along to a seminar with her year 11 class where she was told not to photograph herself naked — and definitely not to send such a picture to someone else. An older woman who had experienced first-hand how badly it could go wrong warned that repercussions could come at once, if the image was shared without her consent, or in the future, if it came to the attention of potential employers. This was coming from a fairly liberal and progressive school. Then in person, that makes sex better. But she sometimes worries that those she has sent in the past may one day be circulated without her consent. For the best part of a decade, young women like Erin have been told by police, parents and schools not to take any photographs that they would not want shared with the world. They believe the issue should be approached from the perspective of harm reduction, and that only those who share the images should face repercussions, not those who take them. And they say society learns to see nude selfies — of both teenage girls and boys, not to mention adults — as neither demeaning nor empowering, but simply a part of life.