CU Personality: Amy Hasinoff
SEXTING FROM ACADEMIC POINT OF VIEW
When Amy Hasinoff was writing her doctoral dissertation in 2008, sending explicit messages was on the rise and newly labeled as “sexting.” That movement alone prompted Hasinoff to change her dissertation. She became fascinated with the panic surrounding sexting, especially since people had been doing it even before it was brought to media attention.
Now Dr. Hasinoff, a CU Denver Associate Professor who has been in the Communications Department for several years, teaches her students about sexting.
Calling Dr. Hasinoff an expert on sexting is an understatement: she has done extensive research on the so-called epidemic, including TEDx talks, publishing her award-winning book Sexting Panic , and writing an op-ed for The New York Times.
“There’s always panic about women and girls in particular and sexuality, because people want to regulate and control them,” Dr. Hasinoff said.
Her research focuses on new media, gender, and sexuality. Dr. Hasinoff was surprised how the government and state handled sexting when she started her research. “They tended to just ban sexting completely, rather than trying to make a distinction between consensual sexting and sexual harassment,” Dr. Hasinoff said.
In many states, including Colorado, sexting is illegal for those under the age of 18. Those in possession of explicit messages are charged for child pornography, even if both partners are underage. Dr. Hasinoff was shocked by this, especially as 70 percent of teens sext, according to dosomething.org.
“We should be training people to have healthy, consensual relationships,” Dr. Hasinoff said. “Teens who are victims of privacy violations also technically committed a crime as dictated by the law, so they are slut-shamed.”
Over the summer, Dr. Hasinoff travelled to Vienna, Austria, to participate in a TEDx talk about the future of intimacy. Dr. Hasinoff ’s speech was based on an article she wrote in which she analyzed and compared sexting to sex tips from magazines like Cosmopolitan and GQ.
“For the talk, I wanted people to destigmatize sexting,” Dr. Hasinoff said. “There are always going to be risks, but there’s nothing fun that isn’t risky. The cool thing about sexting is you have to have that conversation and you can’t rely on nonverbal cues. Technology encourages you to have explicit consent.”
In between teaching, Dr. Hasinoff is writing a paper about the crime alerts that are issued to students, staff, and faculty members of the university. Although the analysis is still underway, Dr. Hasinoff believes crime alerts may increase fear of crime and cause more chaos than if the crime alerts were not spread so extensively.
Dr. Hasinoff ’s contributions at CU Denver are centered on education, empowerment, and safety.