“Kind of like making porn of yourself”: understanding sexting through pornography
This article contributes to the existing literature on sexting and the “sexualisation of culture” by examining how women make sense of their sexting practices by thinking through pornography frames. In doing so, it draws on interview material collected for a study on adult women’s experiences of using digital technology in their romantic and/or sexual relationships. To the women in this study, their private sexual images—as created for the purpose of sexting—were acts of communication that could be both not-pornography and pornography depending on the private and/or public contexts in which they were shared and consumed. They did not distinguish between sexting and pornography based on the content of the images, but based on where they occur and who consumes them. Indeed, they argued that the same private sexual image could take on different meanings, as the predominant conventions within the given context of display and consumption guide the audience’s interpretation. A key argument put forward in this article is thus that, in aiming to understand complex social phenomena like sexting and pornography, we should look to how different types of sexual representations gain meaning within particular contexts as marked by certain conventions.