No matter how much we are told, “just don’t do it,” sending nude pics is just something people do. Our dating world is migrating to be more and more online every day. We meet online, talk online, flirt online, and so sexting is a pretty organic step that a lot of people choose to take.
Obviously there are risks involved with sharing nude pics or racy images of yourself. We won’t pretend that there aren’t, or recommend ignoring them. But a lot of people are sending nudes anyway. Triple j’s recent What’s Up in Your World Survey, which surveyed 11,000 Australians between the ages of 18 and 29, found that 61 per cent of young Aussies have sent at least one naked selfie.
So, our energy seems better spent on the question that’s actually helpful: Can you send nude pics safely?
Let’s look at how we can at least minimise those risks, and what you can do if something does go wrong.
Is Sharing Nude Pics Slutty?
The short answer is no. Absolutely not. Our culture sexually shames people – especially women – for appreciating and enjoying their sexuality. Sharing nude pics of yourself, or even just taking them for yourself, can make you feel good and sexy, so naturally it’s been labelled ‘slutty’.
But there’s nothing inherently wrong with feelin’ yourself and wanting other people to feel you too.
To understand more about sexting culture, we spoke to an expert on episode three of GOAT’s sex education podcast, Thinking Between The Thighs. Gemma Cribb is a clinical psychologist and author who specialises in sex and dating, and she spoke out against sexual shame culture.
“If it excites you, if it turns you on – the idea of someone getting off on seeing a photo of you – then it’s totally OK to share your nudes. Your body is your business, and you can do what you want with it.” She said. “We all wanna be admired and loved and appreciated, we all want to feel desirable, so, it’s not dirty motivation, there’s nothing wrong with it.”
Award-winning sex therapist and relationship specialist, Chantelle Otten, also pointed out some of the potential benefits to be gained from sharing nudes.
“Nudes can be a wonderful way of boosting confidence and body positivity.” She told GOAT. “And an erotic selfie can be incredible for sexual self esteem and affirmation. Seeing your body naked can be confronting, but can also be a wonderful way of increasing confidence and appreciating its wonder.”
“In relationships, nudes can be a wonderful way of keeping passion and eroticism alive. It creates fantasy which is wonderful in long-term relationships.” She added.
There are a lot of reasons not to share your nude pics with anyone, but they have everything to do with the risks involved and nothing to do with the false notion that it speaks badly of your character. In reality, sexting is just normal, and common.
What Should You Consider Before Sending Nudes?
If you do feel the desire to share sexually explicit images of yourself, you should first make sure you fully understand the risks, and potentially make an effort to minimise them.
First, ask yourself if you have consent. Unsolicited nudes are a form of harassment. Do not do it.
Don’t forget that for someone to consent they need to be unpressured and of age.
“One of the biggest things that people don’t realise, is that a person under the age of 16 can not consent.” Tayla Regan, a lawyer from Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia, told GOAT on Thinking Between The Thighs. “So if they verbally say to a person, ‘That’s fine, you can distribute my photos,’ it does not matter. If you’re under the age of 16, it’s against the law to distribute or take a [intimate] photo of that person so you can be found guilty under the law.”
Some states do have added defences or exceptions to these laws for consensual sexting between young people of similar ages.
If you are the person sending the nude pic, also consider whether your own consent was voluntary, and whether you feel good about it.
“If you’re sharing an internet nude because you feel pressured to or because you feel like if you don’t share the nude, the person you’re sharing it with isn’t going to like you, or is going to reject you, then of course that’s not such a good reason to share your nudes.” Gemma Cribb told GOAT on Thinking Between The Thighs.
Can You Trust This Person With Your Nude Pics?
A recent survey of Australians aged 16 to 49 found that one in 10 have taken, shared or threatened to share nude or sexual images of another person without their consent. It’s important to remember that not everyone deserves your trust, and evaluate the risk before
“We have this bias where we assume everybody thinks like we do, and acts like we do.” Gemma Cribb told GOAT on Thinking Between The Thighs. “But, other people are different to you and you can’t just assume that because, for example, you would never send people’s nudes to other people, or post them online, that someone else wouldn’t do that.”
Trust should be earned, and awarded carefully.
Have You Mapped Out Some Ground Rules?
Best practice would be to have a conversation mapping out some ground rules before you dive into sharing nude pics. Making your boundaries and expectations explicit gives you an extra level of protection.
Some things to chat about before persevering might include: who gets to see it? Where is the image going to be stored? When should it be deleted? And whether or not you would like reciprocation, i.e. a nude in return. What you want to happen to those images if you break up or are no longer involved is something you can flag upfront, so everyone is on the same page.
How Is Your Cyber Security?
Not all apps are created equally. You can choose your method of sharing nude pics based on what your biggest concerns are.
If you’re sending pictures to someone you don’t particularly know or trust, or are concerned about the eventual prospect of revenge porn, there are apps you can use that prevent that person from saving or screenshotting your image (and no, we are not talking about Snapchat). A bunch of apps like Privates! And Confide are built specifically to protect you from screenshots and you could choose to only send sexts via those servers if it makes you feel more comfortable.
If you’re biggest concern is someone hacking in and violating your privacy somehow, you can focus on the overall security of your messages. Opt for a messenger service with end-to-end encryption, which means your messages are only accessible by senders and receivers and not by the third party that hosts them.
If message security is your concern, swap Instagram messenger and Snapchat for something built for more privacy. WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, though you need to turn off the function that automatically saves received images to your photo roll, and so potentially the Cloud. Signal is highly recommended by cybersecurity experts, and there are plenty more like Wire and Wickr Me that you might want to consider using.
When you’re taking nude pics you should also be aware of where it’s being stored automatically. If you want to keep those images off back ups like the iCloud Photo Library or Google Photos, switch the function off auto-syncing before taking your picture, then send or store it and delete it before re-enabling backup.
There are other basic things you can do to add extra protection. Don’t put identifying features into your nude pics if you are worried about them getting out. Keep a passcode on your phone in case it falls into the wrong hands. Be wary of the data stored in your images (EXIF data) that can tell someone the time and place it was taken, and wipe it if necessary.
Just look into your cyber security if you want maximum protection.
What Can You Do If Something Goes Wrong?
Unfortunately, sometimes things do go wrong, and your privacy may not be respected. If someone takes, distributes or threatens to distribute your intimate image without your consent, the legal term for this is image-based abuse. In those situations, it’s important to know your rights.
First off, the law provides a definition for what is considered an ‘intimate image’, which Tayla Regan, a lawyer from Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia, explained on GOAT’s Thinking Between The Thighs,
“So in the law it actually says that an intimate image is actually an image of a person’s private parts, or a person engaging in a private act…in essence, the law kind of looks at it as if, you know, would someone reasonably expect to be afforded privacy in that moment? And if it is, that’s something that would be intimate.”
Tayla also made clear that you have ownership and rights over your own intimate images, even if they were given to someone else consensually. You can go straight to the police if your images are shared beyond your consent.
In Australia, the specific laws around taking, distributing and threatening to distribute someone’s intimate images without their consent differ from state to state. You can check out what laws apply to your state here, by clicking on the map.
However, there is some level of protection provided on a Federal level.
“Under Australian Federal law, it is a criminal offence to use a carriage service (such as the internet or a mobile phone) to menace, harass or cause offence.” The 1800respect site reads. “This means that even if the abuse occurred outside the states and territories that have specific image-based abuse laws (ACT, NSW, SA or Victoria), abusers may still be prosecuted under this federal law”.
Anyone in Australia can also report image-based abuse to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. They can provide support and assistance in getting the image removed from the platform where it has been non-consensually published.
If you or someone you know has experienced image-based abuse, you may want to get support. For confidential information, referral and counselling you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
It’s Up To You
At the end of the day, we can’t pretend that there aren’t risks involved with sending nude pics, but we also can’t pretend that that stops us all from doing it. If you are keen to share your own images, just put all the protections in place that you can, and know your rights, so you can sext as safely as possible.