“Who Does Not Dare, Is a Pussy.” A Textual Analysis of Media Panics, Youth, and Sexting in Print Media

Burcu Korkmazer, Sofie Van Bauwel, Sander De Ridder


The social media use of young people has become a site of increasing public interest. Young people experiencing with sexuality and intimacy in digital media spaces, has evoked public debates on youth, sexuality and social media. Sexting in particular, has often been covered in print media articles as a ‘risky’ youth phenomenon, leading to media panics about the alleged risks of social media. Although the social media use of young people has been studied in previous research, there remains a need to understand the broader cultural discourses on youth, sexuality and social media in print media. With this article, we examine the discourses in news stories covering sexting. The qualitative research design of this paper exists of a textual analysis of print media articles. Our findings show that public discourses in newspapers and magazines mainly articulate youth sexting as a deviant behavior. This deviance discourse is strongly linked to a gendered representation of youth who engage in sexting, resulting in a victimization of girls and criminalization of boys. The article concludes that the binary discourse in print media may not only reinforce sexual double standards, but also leaves little space for a more diverse and active comprehension of sexting.


youth, sexuality, sexting, media panic, print media, social media

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS13120191218

License URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/