A few weeks ago, I got a message from an old friend.
An adult member of her extended family had texted a picture of his privates to her teenage daughter.
She wanted to know if I could use my research skills to find out if what he did was actually illegal instead of just high-grade creepy.
Five minutes later, we had the answer:
In her state, sending any kind of sexually explicit material by phone is a crime.
But perhaps more important, sending that kind of picture to a minor is covered in a separate statute. And I was sure it would be more likely to get the police’s attention.
Earlier this week, the relative was booked into a county jail. Restraining orders are in the works.
He didn’t look very happy in the mug shot. And I couldn’t be more proud of my friend.
What’s the big deal?
I think a lot of people would have been tempted to chalk it up to a momentary lapse in judgment and let it slide.
Guys do that, right? No big. Why mess up his life by reporting him to the cops? It didn’t actually HURT the kid, right?
Except leveraging his status as a trusted family member to suggest a sexual relationship to a teenage girl (and that’s exactly what he was trying to do) is the definition of hurtful.
And my friend is a mom who knows her job: and that’s to put the physical, emotional and mental health of her kid first. No excuses. No exceptions. No apologies. And if her daughter didn’t know that before, she knows it now.
Full disclosure: I’m not a dude
I’ve never had the urge to photograph my junk and text it to anyone on my contact list. But I suspect there are two main motivations to taking the tools out of the shed and sending pictures of them to women who never asked.
- The recipient is supposed to put the back of her hand to her forehead, exclaim something along the lines of, “My stars!” and swoon from the shock. You are now a caveman god.
- She will be overcome by immediate and violent lust for you, the owner of a functioning cellphone. You are also now a caveman god.
Seriously, guys: Neither scenario sounds likely.
Uh-oh, it’s Mom
Look, even if you’re 100 percent certain the person you’re about to send an unsolicited southward selfie to is older than 18, it’s not a great idea for other reasons.
Republic/azcentral.com reporter Kaila White recently wrote about an ASU student who could not have been more clear on her Tindr profile: “Send me an unsolicited explicit photo and I will forward it to your mom.”
When one young man tested her resolve, 20-year-old Madison Kohn mustered the awesome Facebook fu her generation is famed for and tracked down his mother.
Kohn said the woman told her she would speak to her son about it.
Not exactly a day in county jail, but knowing your mom saw a picture of your gigglestick has to be its own kind of hell.
Trouble on the job
Meanwhile, over at Fox News, which seems to be more of an HR-don’t film than a media organization these days, host Eric Bolling was suspended in early August after he was accused of texting pictures of male genitalia to female coworkers.
Bolling denies the charge and is suing the journalist who broke the story. But you have to think that if even Fox News — where having heard the phrase “Mr. Ailes will see you now” can legitimately qualify you for workers comp — is getting antsy about this sort of thing, maybe your own employer wouldn’t be thrilled to get an email with a very special attachment.
So, how about this?
How about the next time you’re thinking about taking Mr. Johnson’s yearbook picture and sending it to that special someone, you don’t?
Except maybe unless she sends you an engraved invitation first. Something along the lines of:
“Kindly do me the honor of sending me via text a photograph or possibly an etching of your male member.
“Best regards, Annabelle.”
And even then, you probably shouldn’t.