Are #Aftersexselfies Ever A Good Idea?
The Debrief: A celebration of sex or TMI on a grand scale?
The sun is finally out, the birds are singing and the lambs are leaping. It’s officially mating season. Which is the only possible explanation we can come up with for the sudden influx of #aftersexselfies or #ass invading our Instagram accounts. Selfie’s have become an innocuous part of everyday life on social media and that’s fine, if you enjoy a bit of narcissism (which surely most of us are guilty of), but is sharing post-sex pics a bridge too far?
I can live with PDA. Apart from the odd overkill where I fear the boundaries of underwear may have been breached - like the time I unwittingly caught sight of a couple in full coital embrace whilst enjoying my lunch beneath the fir trees in Versailles. I mean, kudos to them - how were they to know that a prudish Brit was cowering feet from them, afraid to draw attention to myself or to disturb proceedings?
If it's too sexually implicit and they do it all the time and take up my news feed it really grates on me
In a way, sex selfies are nothing new – think of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s legendary Bed In in 1969 when they spent their honeymoon in bed discussing peace in front of the world’s press. Sure they weren’t having sex when the cameras were on, but the icons of free luuuurve were on THEIR HONEYMOON. No one needed to say what they had spent the 12 hours between 9pm and 9am doing, it was implicit. And the art world probably wouldn’t be what it is without lovers. Klimt’s The Kiss has become an iconic image of an intimate embrace. It’s on postcards, cushions, t-shirts, mugs and Iphone cases and people flock to see the real thing. But let’s be honest the post-sex selfies of the 21st century aren't in quite the same league.
But can they ever be romantic? Rebecca Leigh, 22 from Shropshire feels like there’s a spectrum. ‘It depends on what I think about the couple and what they have on show! If it's cute and not sexual, but just catches in bed (and it's a couple I actually like) then I think it's sweet. However, if it's too sexually implicit and they do it all the time and take up my news feed it really grates on me.’ Sure you may be friends. You may have known each other for years, and have that cool friendship where if you only ever see each other once or twice a year you can just pick back up where you left off. But posting a picture of yourself post sex in their newsfeed is the social media equivilant of reaching over the dinner table (or worse – the desk) with a glossy Polaroid of you and your partner naked, sprawled over each other and wrapped in bed linen grinning because you just got laid. No one wants to see that whilst they’re eating. And they are definitely NSFW.
And surely laying bare (ho ho) your love life with post coital self-portraits takes away from the very thing that makes that photo special: the intimacy between the people involved. The very instance you share that moment with the online community, that intimacy disappears and all us viewers are left feeling like voyeuristic peeping Toms who have witnessed something we really shouldn’t have.
And it’s mortifying enough if your parents or siblings or random person unwittingly witnesses your sex life in some way or another – why would you want to artificially create this scenario yourself on Facebook?
The very instance you share that moment with the online community, that intimacy disappears
And what about your boss or colleagues? Personal brand consultant Jennifer Holloway works with a lot of graduates looking for work and knows the damage Facebook and Twitter profiles can do. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t about limiting your fun but Jennifer warns that ‘Just before you post what photo you want to share ask yourself what your future boss would think of it.’ Yes it might portray you as happy, confident and attractive, but she is particularly wary of sharing too much relating to your sexuality, which is ‘unfortunately a problem for females’. And I hate to say it, but it’s true – although it shouldn’t be. In a messed up world where slut-shaming and victim-blaming are still rife, this tragically does apply more to women.
So why do we do it? According to Jenny Kidd, lecturer at Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, the connotations of #aftersexselfies are almost entirely negative. ‘They make us uneasy because of the intense centrality of self, with accusations of competitiveness, narcissism and triviality being frequent ways into their criticism. The hyper visibility of self offends many people, and the after sex selfie perfectly exemplifies that, and even takes it to the extreme. Taking and circulating such images is seen as a gratuitous form of over-sharing, and looking at them is understood as empty voyeurism. Are we becoming obsessed with our online self-ness? If so, does that leave room for anything else?’
But Jenny admits that she may be being overly negative about them. ‘Maybe the activity should be celebrated for normalising everyday sex in sites where pornographic representations circulate prolifically, or for celebrating the consensual in a landscape where the threat of sexual violence is so common, or for creating a space for discussion of what happens outside the heteronormative sexual relationship (not least in the many quirky parodic representations that are now being circulated).’
So maybe #aftersexselfies do ultimately serve a purpose. Will I be posting one of myself any time soon? You've got to be joking.
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