Sexting and Hegemonic Masculinity: Interrogating Male Sexual Agency, Empowerment and Dominant Gendered Norms

  • Antonio García-GómezEmail author


García-Gómez explores the construction of multiple masculine identities and the different sexual gendered discourses a group of heterosexual British young men live out when they narrate why they and their girlfriends sext. By using personal interviews and guided discussions, this chapter sheds light on the ways these young men negotiate their sexual gendered identities, navigate their sexual relationships and make choices about their sexual embodiment. In doing so, the chapter draws attention to the characteristics of sexualised adolescent cyberculture, its effects on their lives and its implications. Furthermore, the chapter not only gives evidence of multiple masculinities associated with men’s insecurities and competition, but also reveals the benefits and the risks of conforming to and obeying these current sexual practices of teenagers.



The present study was financially supported by a grant (ID No: FFI2013-47792-C2-2-P) from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. This article is part of the long-term research project “EMOtion and language ‘at work’: The discursive emotive/evaluative FUNction in different texts and context within corporate and institutional work: PROjectPERsuasion” (EMO-FUNDETT: PROPER).


  1. Albury, K., & Crawford, K. (2012). Sexting, consent and young peoples ethics: Beyond Megan’s story. Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 26(3), 463–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baron, R. A., & Byrne, D. (1997). Social psychology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  3. Baumgartner, S. E., Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2010). Unwanted online sexual solicitation and risky sexual online behavior across the lifespan. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 31, 439–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. boyd, D. (2008). None of this is real. In J. Karaganis (Ed.), Structures of participation in digital culture (pp. 132–157). New York: Social Science Research Council.Google Scholar
  5. Butler, J. (1990). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. Thinking gender. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Butler, J. (1993). Bodies that matter: On the discursive limits of ‘sex’. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Coles, T. (2009). Negotiating the field of masculinity: The production and reproduction of multiple dominant masculinities. Men and Masculinities, 12(1), 30–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Connell, R. W. (2005). Masculinities. Australia: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  9. Courtenay, W. H. (2000). Constructions of masculinity and their influence on men’s well-being: A theory of gender and health. Social Science and Medicine, 50, 1385–1401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  11. Crofts, T., & Lee, M. (2013). ‘Sexting,’children and child pornography. Sydney Law Review, 35(1), 85–106.Google Scholar
  12. Dake, J. A., Price, J. H., Maziarz, L., & Ward, B. (2012). Prevalence and correlates of sexting behavior in adolescents. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 7(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Davidson, J. (2014). Sexting: Gender and teens. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Davies, B., & Harré, R. (1990). Positioning: The discursive production of selves. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 20(1), 43–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dobson, A. (2014). Laddishness online: The possible significations and significance of ‘performative shamelessness’ for young women in the post-feminist context. Cultural Studies, 28(1), 142–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dobson, A. (2015). Postfeminist digital cultures: Femininity, social media, and self-representation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dobson, A., & Ringrose, J. (2016). Sext education: Pedagogies of sex, gender and shame in the schoolyard of tagged and exposed. Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning, 16(1), 8–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Duszak, A. (2002). Us and others: An introduction. In A. Duszak (Ed.), Us and others: Social identities across languages, discourses and cultures (pp. 1–28). Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Edwards, T. (2006). Cultures of masculinity. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Eleftheriou-Smith, L. (2015). ‘Revenge porn’ criminalised: What is it and what are the consequences? Retrieved April 5, 2017, from
  21. Franks, M. A. (2015). Drafting an effective ‘Revenge porn’ law: A guide for legislators. Social Science Research Network. Retrieved April 5, 2017, from
  22. García-Gómez, A. (2014). Deconstructing mean girls: Impolite verbal behaviours, on/offline self-representations and evaluative beliefs. In A. Sánchez Macarro & A. B. Cabrejas Peñuelas (Eds.), New insights into gendered discursive practices: Language, gender and identity construction, English in the World Series (pp. 73–100). Valencia: Universitat de Valencia.Google Scholar
  23. García-Gómez, A. (2017). Teen girls and sexual agency: Exploring the intrapersonal and intergroup dimensions of sexting. Media, Culture and Society, 39(3), 391–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the late modern age. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Gill, R. (2007). Post-feminist media culture: Elements of a sensibility. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 10(2), 147–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gonick, M., Renold, E., Ringrose, J., & Weems, L. (Guest Eds.).(2009). Rethinking agency and resistance: What comes after girl power? Girlhood Studies, Special Issue: What comes after Girl power?, 2(2), 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Harré, R., & Moghaddam, F. (2003). The self and others: Positioning individuals and groups in personal, political, and cultural contexts. Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
  28. Hasinoff, A. A. (2012). Sexting as media production: Rethinking social media and sexuality. New Media & Society, 15(4), 449–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hasinoff, A. A. (2014). Blaming sexualization for sexting. Girlhood Studies, 7(1), 102–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hasinoff, A. A. (2015). Sexting panic: Rethinking criminalization, privacy, and consent. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  31. Hearn, J., & Connell, R. W. (Eds.). (2005). Handbook of studies on men and masculinities. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.Google Scholar
  32. Hecht, M. L. (1993). A research odyssey: Toward the development of a communication theory of identity. Communication Monographs, 60(1), 76–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hecht, M. L., Warren, J. R., Jung, E., & Krieger, J. L. (2005). The communication theory of identity: Development, theoretical perspective, and future directions. In W. B. Gudykunst (Ed.), Theorizing about intercultural communication (pp. 257–278). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  34. Higgins, E. T. (1996). The “self digest”: Self-knowledge serving self-regulatory functions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71(6), 1062–1083.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hogg, M. A., & Vaughan, G. M. (2002). Social psychology. London: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  36. Kroskrity, P. V. (1999). Identity. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 9(1–2), 111–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lee, M., Crofts, T., Salter, M., Milivojevic, S., & McGovern, A. (2013). ‘Let’s get sexting’: Risk, power, sex and criminalisation in the moral domain. International Journal for Crime and Justice, 2, 35–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Livingstone, S. (2008). Taking risky opportunities in youthful content creation: Teenagers’ use of social networking sites for intimacy, privacy and self-expression. New Media & Society, 10(3), 393–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Livingstone, S., Bober, M., & Helsper, E. (2005). Internet literacy among children and young people: Findings from the UK children go online project [online]. London: LSE Research Online. Retrieved April 5, 2017, from
  40. Lounsbury, K., Mitchell, K. J., & Finkelhor, D. (2011). The true prevalence of sexting: Crimes against children. Research Center, University of New Hampshire. Retrieved April 5, 2017, from
  41. Lunceford, B. (2011). The new pornographers: Legal and ethical considerations of sexting. In B. E. Drushel & K. German (Eds.), The ethics of emerging media: Information, social norms, and new media technology (pp. 99–118). New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  42. Markus, H., & Wurf, E. (1987). The dynamic self-concept. Annual Review of Psychology, 38, 299–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion and motivation. Psychological Review, 98, 224–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Martinez-Prather, K., & Vandiver, D. (2014). Sexting among teenagers in the United States: A retrospective analysis of identifying motivating factors, potential targets, and the role of a capable guardian. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 8(1), 21–35.Google Scholar
  45. Noone, J. H., & Stephens, C. (2008). Men, masculine identities, and health care utilisation. Sociology of Health & Illness, 30, 711–725.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2009). Adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit Internet material and notions of women as sex objects: Assessing causality and underlying processes. Journal of Communication, 59, 407–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ringrose, J., & Eriksson Barajas, K. (2011). Gendered risks and opportunities? Exploting teen girls’ digitized sexual identities in postfeminist media contexts. International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 7(2), 121–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ringrose, J., Gill, R., Livingstone, S., & Harvey, L. (2013). Teen girls, sexual double standards and ‘sexting’: Gendered value in digital image exchange. Feminist Theory, 14(3), 305–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schloms-Madlener, K. C. (2013). The prevalence and characteristics of sexting behaviours among adolescents and adults in Cape Town, South Africa. Unpublished Master’s Dissertation. Retrieved April 5, 2017, from
  50. Shariff, S. (2015). Sexting and cyberbullying: Defining the line for digitally empowered kids. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Shotter, J., & Gergen, K. (1989). Texts of identity. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  52. Skeggs, B., & Wood, H. (2012). Reacting to reality television: Performance, audience and value. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Solomon, D., & Theiss, J. (2012). Interpersonal communication: Putting theory into practice. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Steinar, K. (1996). Interviews an introduction to qualitative research interviewing. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  55. Thurlow, C. (2014). Disciplining youth: Language ideologies and new technologies. In A. Jaworski & A. Coupland (Eds.), The discourse reader (pp. 481–496). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  56. Tsui, A. B. M. (1994). English conversation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2011). Online communication among adolescents: An integrated model of its attraction, opportunities, and risks. Journal of Adolescent Health, 48, 121–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Van Dijk, T. (1977). Text and context: Explorations in the semantics and pragmatics of discourse. London/New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  59. Versluys, E. (2007). The notion of identity in discourse analysis: Some ‘discourse analytical’ remarks. RASK. International Journal of Language and Communication, 26, 89–100. Retrieved April 5, 2017, from,%2089-99.pdf
  60. Walker, S., Lena, S., & TempleSmith, M. (2013). Sexting: Young women’s and men’s views on its nature and origins. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52(6), 697–701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Filología ModernaUniversity of AlcaláAlcalá de HenaresSpain

Personalised recommendations