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'It’s like a sexy story just for me': how lockdown has triggered a wave of sexting | Life and style


The Easter photo challenge had to involve chocolate. Apart from that, all bets were off. One member of the Cheeky Chicks Facebook group chat won herself piles of virtual applause by filming her naked torso slowly getting covered in Ice Magic.

Business manager Rosy,* 47, is part of the chat. She describes the group as “like-minded women friends who are generally more open to exploring their sexual and sensual natures”.

Before the pandemic, Rosy explains, the group “used to catch up regularly face to face socially to chat and flirt and just be us”. Now, in lockdown, they’re using the group to explore their “naughty sides” but “in a safe environment”. They “set cheeky challenges to each other, like taking pictures in some sort of theme – such as with water, kissing or chocolate”.

“Having said that, we also discuss parenting and current life struggles as well as successes and maybe the yummy food we have been making. It’s a space to be real,” she says.

Rosy isn’t alone in exploring her sexual side through naked photographs and erotic texts during the Covid-19 lockdown. On 22 April, actor Ansel Elgort teased his followers on Instagram by posting a nude photograph and suggesting he had set up an Only Fans account. Although the post was for charity, he deleted it a few hours later. Meanwhile, social media influencer Caroline Calloway really did launch a profile on the subscription-based pornography service, and claims she will make US$80,000 from the account by the end of the year.

Clinical and somatic sexologist Tanya Koens reflects that the current crisis is impacting people’s intimate online behaviour. Yet it’s not just that people are bored and horny – there’s more to it.

“People are feeling very vulnerable and they are feeling scared. They don’t know what’s going to happen. When we’re facing death, we tend to become much more vibrant in wanting to be alive,” she says.

Koens believes people are turning to sexting and nudes because it’s “hooking into our desires. It’s hooking into our desirability. It’s hooking into our body. It’s special because this isn’t something that we do with everybody [and] it’s a way of being intimate in a time where we actually can’t touch each other”.

Sexting – in case you aren’t familiar – is using text, images, photos, video and audio to get saucy with someone online. Right now the practice is having a heyday. What’s more, people are using their creativity to sext in varied and unexpected ways. Koens notes that some groups of friends – such as the Cheeky Chicks – are sending nude images to each other too “for shits and giggles”.

However, others, such as 41-year-old public servant Mia*, are sexting their crushes one to one. And not just a bit. But a lot. Mia says: “I’ve been enjoying sharing a long fantasy of: ‘What I’d do if we were locked in the steamy spa room at my gym together’ texts with my bloke.

“It feels like the end of the world, so all the basic urges like cooking, sleeping and fucking are really important again,” Mia says. “The isolation is ramping up the desire to connect. Vibrators and self-love don’t cut it right now. It needs to be more.”

Our feelings of isolation and fear are causing us to reach out and connect in a far more vulnerable way. Take 51-year-old legal professional, Jennifer*, as another example. She thinks back a few weeks: “At the start of the crisis, anxiety was peaking, and I was standing in the supermarket crying.”

This prompted Jennifer to send her best friend of 25 years, who lives interstate, a message along the lines of: “I would give anything to see him just so he could hug me.”

A phone call followed, and the relationship quickly evolved into regular sexting between the pair. “It’s like a sexy story just for me where I am beautiful and desirable. That’s an intoxicating feeling,” she says.

While exploring new forms of intimacy can be a thrill, Rosy wants to underscore something crucial: “No one is forced to put something up and you engage at the level you feel comfortable at.”

Koens says people sext for all kinds of reasons. “When we flirt with somebody we get a little bit of an extra spring in our step … It can be very validating to have somebody responding positively to messages that you’re writing or imagery or voicemails that you are sending.”

Just like with face-to-face sexual interactions, consent is king when it comes to sexting. “If you’re having sexy banter and you want to up the ante and send a recording or an image, you need to check first,” says Koens. “‘Would you be open to receiving some images of me? Would you be open to receiving naked images of me? Would you be open to seeing pictures of my genitals?’

“People say that’s not sexy [to ask] and I’m telling you that’s incorrect … Once you’ve got permission, you have zero risk of offending somebody.”

When wanting to turn the chat to sexy talk, Koens has noticed that men can often “pressure” women into sending images. Anecdotally, more of this fishing seems to be happening at the moment.

Koens explains: “They don’t ask in a way that ‘no’ is an option. They start insisting that they ‘need’ to see nudes or sexy images. They say they are turned on and they want more.”

Speaking directly to men who make these requests, she continues: “If you don’t receive a picture or the person says ‘no’, don’t continue asking. You can go find your own images – there is a plethora of porn out there. Women don’t owe you anything.”

*Names have been changed



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