Yesterday, on Law and Order: SVU Tuesdays on USA (yes it’s a thing) I saw a rerun of an episode about sexting. To briefly summarize, the teenage victim had texted nude photos of herself to her bf, and someone was beating her up. She refused to give the name of her abuser so the ADA had her arrested for producing, owning and distributing child pornography to get her to talk. In standard SVU fashion things blew up and the corrupt judge refused to drop the charges. Olivia was not pleased, this was a mistake made by a teenager, she argued, but the Captain pointed out that the victim was damaging herself, the photos could be seen by college recruiters employers or her own future children. The pixels would never fully disappear and her reputation would be irreparably damaged. Everyone learns a valuable lesson, roll credits.
Unfortunately, Donald Cragen was correct, but he shouldn’t be. Nude photos and previous sex acts should not ruin someone’s reputation, ever. Sex isn’t bad, two consenting adults (or teenagers with an appropriate age ratio) having it is not bad. Naked photos are not bad. We should be free to love our bodies and embrace our sexual desires without fear of a scar on our permanent social record.