Editorial: Unsolicited nude photos over digital platforms should be against the law

As the world continuously adapts to a growing digital age, we must prioritize the criminalization of unsolicited, graphic, nude photos sent electronically. Not only are these offensive and premeditated, they are a form of harassment.

On March 25, state legislators discussed House Bill 2789. The bill would make the act of sending an unwanted nude photo a class C misdemeanor. This includes when a person’s genital area is exposed and sent without consent of a recipient.

It’s a move by the state to officially criminalize this problematic digital activity. The bill is necessary. Unfortunately, it also seems long overdue.

Texas Penal Code 21 section 8 states on indecent exposure that exposure of a person’s private genital or buttock area without consent is considered a class B misdemeanor by the state. Yet in the code, there are no mentions of unwanted advances that are made digitally through text or social media.

According to a Frontiers in Psychology study, an unsolicited nude photo is oftentimes the first form of communication a woman receives from a man. This is also common amongst homosexual men due to LGBT social networking apps such as Grindr and Scruff.

No matter the gender of the recipient or the sender, the act of these unwanted advances should be criminal. Whether it is in person or behind a screen.

With the growing trend of online dating apps, the act of receiving or sending an unwanted nude photo doesn’t seem to be going away. Though we may laugh, mock or snicker at receiving an unwanted graphic image, it doesn’t take away from the simple fact that they’re unwanted.

This doesn’t mean we should frown upon consensual sex, in person or digitally. Instead, we must adapt to the innovation of unsolicited flashing.

At its House Criminal Jurisprudence committee hearing, Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd wondered why indecent exposure is a crime physically but not digitally.

She’s right to question it. Consent occurs both digitally and in person. Hiding behind a phone screen does not change the fact that the act can be traumatizing. We as a society must come to terms with that.

Legally, our state must act on it.

The misuse of sexting, online sex and unsolicited behavior will not end if it goes unpunished by a court of law.

The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of opinion editor Jacob Reyes; Editor-in-Chief Reese Oxner; associate news editor Amanda Padilla; Carmina Tiscareño, life and entertainment editor; social media editor Narda Pérez; Shay Cohen, copy editor and multimedia journalist; Zaria Turner, life and entertainment reporter; and sports reporter R.J. Coyle.

opinion-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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