Non-Consensual Sharing of Sexual Media

Seriously, what the fuck is “non-consensual sex?” There is no such thing. Sex is something that happens when the parties involved are all consenting. Rape isn’t sex, it’s an act of violence, and if there’s no consent it’s rape.
— Jos Truitt, Feministing

Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post sexual images on the Internet/mobile phones without immediate payment or gain. In all cases, those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. — National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Should We Blame Girls Under 13 for Self-Produce Twerking Videos?

This is the question I have been trying to answer and explore after collecting hundreds of videos of young black girls twerking. Non-consensual sharing of content does not necessarily apply…if the content was self-produced, right? But what about if it’s produced by a child?

The definition of Child Sex Exploitation (CSE) includes: “When sexual exploitation happens online, young people may be persuaded, or forced, to:

  • send or post sexually explicit images of themselves
  • take part in sexual activities via a webcam or smartphone
  • have sexual conversations by text or online.”

The third bullet generally applies to what happens below YouTube videos of black girls under 13 who twerk, but the abusers are members of an invisible audience. They often and easily hide their true identities and the practice of exploiting minors goes without much interruption. If these girls were adults, they’d be blamed for posting images of themselves, but can we accuse children the same way?

This video is about revenge porn. It was uploaded to YouTube by Broadly. Broadly is VICE’s new women’s interest channel, with a focus on original reporting and documentary video. Hmm. I wonder if they can help me get my findings out to the world.

I am exploring the arenas of online sexual exploitation of adults and children to see how I can position the work I am doing as non-consensual for children and sex exploitation (i.e., a digital seduction of minors) even if they self-produce the content. It is particularly the sexual conversations that happen below twerking videos by black children, or black girls, that seems like it should qualify as sexual exploitation. Men and boys in invisible audiences sexually groom girls to take off more clothes, leave their phone numbers for girls to call, and talk about girls in these videos as if they are sex toys/objects for their online sexual pleasure and shaming amusement, no matter how young. This is process is much more apparent below the videos of marginalized girls of color. The stigmas and stereotypes the general public accepts about, for instance, black girls is being reproduced without interruption to YouTube audiences in an unfettered fashion while everyone but the girl profits.

Most viewers feel justified in further marginalizing and stigmatizing even an 8-year old. The invisibility of their audience members’ identity seems to allow them to do the opposite of what they’d hopefully avoid if it were face-to-face and kids’ guardians were present. Gives a whole different take on The Invisible Man for black girls who are exploited by networked individuals in networked publics.

How do we protect marginalized girls from digital seduction?

And what are the implications for marginalized youth whose online content (images and videos), whether deemed sexual-exploited images or self-objectifying content,  will continue to be shared long after the sexual abuse of invisible audiences has stopped but remains as digital shadows along with the portable and persistence of their self-produced content. Will employers distinguish so easily between effects of the persistent and portable media vs. the unintended consequences of lil’ black girls’ online behaviors?

Watching this content to study and research harm to minors and children is no walk in the park either. I am starting to read the work of Judith Reisman in the article “Picture Poison: Viewing Pornography for a Living Can Be Deadly” (Salvo Magazine, Autumn 2009). Last year, my colleague Aimee Meredith Cox, whose book Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship (which you should run out and buy) asked me how I am dealing with the emotional impact of studying the sexually exploited aspects of this content. I’d never really asked myself that question before. It’s like living with PTSD being a black woman in America. You live with abuses like it’s a norm for most people. And it is for many black women. So it hit home when it really started to realize that I might be dealing with child pornographic images in this research.

Why continue doing this?

I am pursuing this work because many people on the front lines of the #BlackLivesMatter or the #BlackGirlsMatter movements are not always dealing with online abuse, especially of girls. Conversely, we also need the #BlackGirlMagic hashtag movement to counter the perpetual negativity of fighting for freedom from gross forms of discrimination, incarceration, and out and out crimes against black people that no one is considered at fault or any injuries are rarely repaired. Think #Flint.

10 Years Ago Today HBTY!!: YouTube Rewind 2015

“Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other. They do not exchange ideas, they exchange images. They do not argue with propositions; they argue with good looks, celebrities and comercials.”
Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

TO WATCH REWIND 2015! #smh

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the official launch of YouTube in December 2005 here is the annual REWIND video. Johanna made it into the Rewind video with over 20 million views dancing the lead in a tap dance routine to Aretha Franklin’s Respect !! #cheah

Rewind 2


MaryJ gif

Watch YouTube Rewind 2015. Celebrating the videos, people, music and moves that made 2015. #YouTubeRewind


Rewind 1

It’s a Crime: “Latanya” and “Shamika” & the Negative Worth from Online Racism

“In a world where few would deny the existence of racism but even fewer would ever admit to propagating it, there will always be the problem of agency. We have racism but no racists – a noun without a subject, a consequence that nobody caused, a system that nobody operates creating victims without perpetrators. ”

“Who thinks about the consequences of online racism?” by 

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 11.21.07 AM

Can Your Computer’s Search Algorithm Be Racist?

The Ford Foundation has focused its mission on eradicating and education in various fields on inequality. This January I will teach my first course on social inequality during the Winter Intercession. This is exciting and challenging; to find a way to link my current research interests in the unintended consequences of the “new digital divide” in social networking sites and on the web relative to marginalized youth, particularly in my study of black girls’ expressive culture on YouTube.

One of the earliest questions I had was how twerking videos might affect the social capital and digital net worth of the reputations of black girls into their adulthood. My research collecting data from YouTube videos reveals many unintended consequences and some are set in motion by the very act of a YouTube search and its complex and personalized algorithms. Search “girls” vs. “black girls” or “girl’s hair” vs. “black girl’s hair” or “twerking” vs. “black girls twerking” or “ratchet girls twerking” and the results reveal a great deal of bias–intersectional biases of race, class, sex, gender, sexuality and age.

Here in this short video by Professor Latanya Sweeney, head of the Data Privacy Lab at Harvard, shares how she began to study the cyber racism of technology and its unintended consequences even for a Harvard professor. More research and critical digital media literacy education is needed in this domain for marginalized people and groups. Trying to figure out what my work might provide here. I believe music consumption and participatory culture on YouTube by marginalized girls, especially online black girls, may have affordances for legacy media and YouTube but costs girls their future adulthood not unlike the example of what happened to Sweeney when  she discovered a problem with her given name “Latanya.”

“If an employer searched the name of a prospective hire, only to be confronted with ads suggesting that the person had a prior arrest, you can imagine how that could affect the applicant’s career prospects.”

Read more about this on the Ford Foundation website from the Equals Change blog. The post was written by Technology Program Officer for Internet Freedom (15 Nov 2015).

Can computers be racist?
Big data, inequality, and discrimination

Can computers be racist? from Ford Foundation on Vimeo.


Internet Porn is Killing Men’s Sexual Performance & Girls’ Adolescence

The goal of modern propaganda is no longer to transform
opinion but to arouse an active and mythical belief.
– Jacques Ellul

The great porn experiment | Gary Wilson | TEDxGlasgow, 2012


Some day soon I really need to create a schedule to update my blog. I am learning so much these days and at the same time trying to focus on one or two things. Life gets too busy, too quickly. I happened to see this excellent TEDx Talk today by Gary Wilson on porn addiction and thought it perfect as a new post. The video is at the bottom of the post and provides rich information for parents, boys, men, girls and women alike! Don’t let digital seduces you without thinking!

My work on the convergence of everyday culture like girls’ games or twerking and commercial digital culture like VEVO and YouTube has reminded me that the study of both femininity and masculinity, girls and men, is essential to my research. Gender and sexuality as well as race and class play significant roles in how one must learn to think to do the kind of analysis needed in the rapidly changing mediascapes and ecologies of new media — available anywhere, anytime.  This was one of the most informative TED Talks related to my own work that I have seen thus far.

Now, to get this information to communities of color, to the parents of girls and boys in Black, Latino, and other marginalized groups. The images used throughout the presentation are not just of white males and females but images of darker skinned black or Latinos are missing.

Real connection depicted with images of black couple

From the YouTube description box: In response to Philip Zimbardo’s “The Demise of Guys?” TED talk, Gary Wilson asks whether our brains evolved to handle the hyperstimulation of today’s Internet enticements. He also discusses the disturbing symptoms showing up in some heavy Internet users, the surprising reversal of those symptoms, and the science behind these 21st century phenomena.

Gary Wilson is host of The site arose in response to a growing demand for solid scientific information by heavy Internet erotica users experiencing perplexing, unexpected effects: escalation to more extreme material, concentration difficulties, sexual performance problems, radical changes in sexual tastes, social anxiety, irritability, inability to stop, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms.

April 7-9, 2016: The Black Girl Movement

Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.
― Zora Neale Hurston    Read more:

Beauty was not simply something to behold; it was something one could do.
― Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

The Little Girl Dancing on the News Is the Only Thing Keeping Me Alive/Gawker
The Little Girl Dancing on the News Is the Only Thing Keeping Me Alive/Gawker



This is the brainchild of many, many fierce academics, artists, and activists, and organizations: Aimee Meredith Cox (Fordham U), choreographer Camille A. Brown (CABD’s Black Girl: Linguistic Play), Carla Shedd (Columbia U), Cidra Maria (Brother Sister Sol), Farah Jasmine Griffin (Columbia U), Kyra Gaunt (that’s me at Baruch College-CUNY), Joanne N. Smith (Girls for Gender Equity), Scheherazade Tillet (Long Walk Home, Chicago), and her sister Salamishah Tillet (Long Walk Home, Chicago + Penn). Come join us next April and watch our girls change the world.

Mark your calendars now!! #SheWillBe
Mark your calendars now!! #SheWillBe

Protecting Mobile Kids from Digital Seduction

Electronic images and sounds, however, thrust themselves into people’s environments, and the messages are received with little effort. In a sense, people must go after print messages, but electronic messages reach out and touch people. People will expose themselves to information in electronic media that they would never bother to read about in a book.

–– Joshua Meyrowitz, media scholar


My awareness of the work I discovered from coding 1000 videos of lil’ black girls twerking on YouTube has completely shifted into studying the digital seduction of child abuse images. Many of the videos in my dataset of girls under 13 surely qualify as “child abuse images” or “sex abuse images” where girls self-produce the content being trafficked by 2nd and 3rd parties that include invisible audiences of everyday users of YouTube to arguably the companies that distribute the media on platforms and the social media platforms themselves.

These two videos might help parents, esp, parents of marginalized youth, to start to wake up to the serious issues of security and protection for your children online.


Dr. Sharon Cooper Shares Insights
on Child Development

In this era of change we don’t understand everything that happens developmentally to a child with the introduction of each new technology. But Sharon Cooper will say this with certainty: never give your child a new technology, and then walk away.


Into the Woods:
Protecting Our Youth from the Wolves of Cyberspace

Today’s headlines are crowded with stories of kids who fall victim to cybercrimes, including online bullying and predatory behavior. We can’t supervise every dark corner of the Internet, so what is the answer? Stricter laws? Aggressive pursuit of offenders? Education of our kids? This keynote panel will discuss challenges and offer solutions designed to ensure the safety of our children.

Getting Past the Binaries: The Genderbread Person 1.0 – 3.3

The failure of academic feminists to recognize difference as a crucial strength is a failure to reach beyond the first patriarchal lesson. In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower.― Audre Lorde

“The best way to avoid being confused about [Caitlin] Jenner is get your head out of [her] bedroom and closet, and then think about all of the things you’ve been hiding and been miserable about. … Just focus on the feeling of finally disclosing something that enables you to be free and to live as authentically as possible. …[then] you will no longer be confused.”  ― Robin Caldwell


To study marginalized girls and digital seduction online means I also have to constantly revisit and stay current with ways people are thinking and moving from what they think they know about gender (vs. sex), gender roles, gender stratification or the unequal distribution of multiple forms of capital on YouTube. I do this so I can try to accurately interpret how gender performance is at work within the digital ecologies and spaces of YouTube and not just in rap music videos. I need to understand how vloggers/creators as well as viewers and invisible audiences are grappling with those ideas.

This week as we study the socio-cultural construction of gender in my intro to anthro courses, an ambitious and curious student reminded me of the Genderbread Person.  The designer of this brilliant graphic and meme is Sam Killermann (ya can’t make these names up). He writes: “Gender is one of those things everyone thinks they understand, but don’t. This tasty little guide is meant to be an appetizer for understanding. It’s okay if you’re hungry for more.” – See more at:

He has three versions in the evolution of the Genderbread Person by Sam Killermann. One of my favorite pages on his website is Breaking Through the Binary. Check out the evolution of his ideas:

Genderbread Person 1.0 by Sam Killermann
Genderbread Person 1.0 by Sam Killermann


Genderbread Graphic and Continuum conceived by Sam Killermann
Genderbread Graphic and Continuum conceived by Sam Killermann


Genderbread-Person-3.3 by Sam Killermann
Genderbread-Person-3.3 by Sam Killermann

Teaching students to revise their ideas is what shows up when I see these three versions. Crafting a practice of revision of thought is so essential as new media seduces us to click-whirr and simply save cognitive energy by merely reading and accepting what comes across our feed. There’s little time to revise and reflect or as Audre Lorde suggests in the quote above to redefine and re-empower the process of thinking not thoughting. That’s it for now!

Happy queering your thinking not your thought, people!!