One of our recommended books is Send Pics by Lauren McLaughlin

SEND PICS


A group of intelligent misfits take matters into their own hands after years of watching Tarkin Shaw, Jonesville High’s popular wrestling star, get away with groping, gaslighting, and worse.

Send Pics sets itself apart from other YA novels about sexual assault by untangling the institutional systems of privilege and misogyny that protect predators and impact how girls are treated in the aftermath of trauma.

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A group of intelligent misfits take matters into their own hands after years of watching Tarkin Shaw, Jonesville High’s popular wrestling star, get away with groping, gaslighting, and worse.

Send Pics sets itself apart from other YA novels about sexual assault by untangling the institutional systems of privilege and misogyny that protect predators and impact how girls are treated in the aftermath of trauma.

less …
  • Dottir Press
  • Paperback
  • April 2020
  • 392 Pages
  • 9781948340267

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$16.95

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About Lauren McLaughlin

Lauren McLaughlin is the author of Send Pics, credit Andrew WoffindenLAUREN MCLAUGHLIN is the author of five previous novels, Cycler, (Re)Cycler, Scored, and The Free. She has also written the children’s pictures books Wonderful You and Mitzi Tulane Preschool Detective, both of which feature adoptive families. She is an adoptive mother herself. Prior to her career in fiction, she spent ten years in the film business. She produced commercials and music videos for such artists as Nas, The B52’s, the Spin Doctors, and Monie Love, then went on to write several screenplays, including Prisoner of Love starring Naomi Campbell, Specimen starring Mark Paul Gosselaar, and Hypercube (the sequel to the cult favorite Cube). She also produced American PsychoBuffalo 66, and several other feature films. She is a member of the improv comedy troupe Amorphous Horse, which performs in a variety of venues in and around London, UK.

Praise

“A gritty read for a woke generation.” —Kirkus

“McLaughlin has crafted a compelling novel that is somehow both timely and timeless: a perfect storm of topical issues affecting our society―and especially connected teens―today, but also an enduring lesson in empathy which reminds us that the truth behind the clickbait headlines often is hidden.” —E.C. Myers, author of the Andre Norton Award–winning Fair Coin, Quantum Coin, The Silence of Six, and more

“A relentless and fierce thriller crossed with an incisive story of gender, class and race. It grabs and grabs and never lets go.” —Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and Radicalized

Discussion Questions

1. In your opinion, what beliefs about girls and boys informed and enabled Tarkin’s
predatory behavior? Where do you think he began to pick up such beliefs?

2. Suze is sex positive and body positive. Given that, why do the nude photos affect her so much?

3. Do you agree with the course of action that Suze and her friends took to fight back
against Tarkin? Why or why not?

4. How do you think the story might have been different had technology not been so
heavily involved?

5. Is this a feminist story? If so, why? If not, why? Related: What is your definition of
feminism?

6. How are parents and other adults portrayed in Send Pics?

7. In a story centered around such highly gendered issues like sexual coercion and slutshaming, what do you think was the importance of DeShawn and Marcus’s characters? What do you think boys can take away from their characters?

Interviews

You’re Sex Positive, but the Law Isn’t.

By Lauren McLaughlin

When I began writing my Young Adult novel Send Pics, which is about a group of smart misfits who fight back against a douchebag varsity sex predator, I drew heavily from my own experiences. But I was a teenager in the eighties, and while douchebag varsity sex predators have always been with us, cell phones and social media have not. Back in the Reagan era, if you wanted to ruin someone’s reputation, you did it analog, person to person with a whisper campaign that built up steam over weeks, maybe even months. Today, everything happens faster, harder, and with a much bigger audience.

There are some amazing benefits to that. The slow crawl of sexual liberation that slinked through the eighties (thank you, Madonna) and picked up speed in the nineties (hello, riot grrrl), has finally hit the accelerator and it’s a beautiful thing to see (take a bow, thirst trappers). Not only can a person feel sexually awake and positive, they can post the receipts on Insta for all the world to see.

But if I learned anything while researching Send Pics, it was this: you may be sex positive yourself, but the law is not. In fact, it’s probably best to think of the law as an ancient, conservative, busybody who still hasn’t figured out how to use The Google.

Because I’m not a lawyer, I turned to my friend Ernie Stone, a criminal defense attorney from Massachusetts, to help lay the legal groundwork for my characters. They fight back and they get in trouble—I wanted that trouble to be believable. Ernie’s insights were so startling and counter-intuitive, I had to share them, especially now that, thanks to Covid 19, virtually all social interaction is happening online. If you think common sense and a pure heart are all you need to stay out of trouble in this Valhalla of sexual freedom we’re all creating one selfie at a time, take a seat, you’re about to be schooled. The legal landscape is cluttered with landmines. I asked Ernie to spell out in plain, easy-to-understand language what the law says, what the risks are, and how to stay out of legal trouble:

Lauren: Is it ever legal for a sixteen-year-old to produce a nude pic of herself?

Ernie: The answer is generally no. Any photographs of people under the age of eighteen in any sexual position or situation are illegal. They’re Child Pornography. And if you send that to someone, whether they ask for it or not, that’s Dissemination of Child Pornography.  If they receive it and hold onto it, that’s Possession of Child Pornography. All of these things are felonies. So, the short answer is no, it’s not legal to take naked pictures of yourself when you’re under age eighteen.

Lauren: What exactly is a felony?

Ernie: The definition of a felony is different in different states.  In some states it’s a charge that is punishable by more than one year in jail, in some it’s a charge that carries the potential of state prison time, as opposed to only county or local jail, or no incarceration.

Lauren: What if I’ve already sent someone a nude pic? Can I legally demand that it be destroyed?

Ernie: The sad truth is that you can demand all you want, but once it’s sent, it’s out there, and while you can demand that it be destroyed, there really isn’t any good way to be certain that it has been destroyed. Once you hit send, it’s got a life of its own.

Lauren: What if I use Photoshop to create a fake nude of someone? Is that illegal?

Ernie: It is. In many states it can fall under revenge porn statutes. Some states prosecute this as harassment, disorderly conduct, cyberstalking, and criminal threats. It’s a really bad idea.

Lauren: What does the law say about partial nudes of minors? Are there any parts of the body that it’s legal to show—boobs, butt, nipples, etc.?

Ernie: Rule of thumb: if it’s covered when you’re wearing a bathing suit, it can’t be shown.

Lauren: What if I ask a minor to send me a nude or partial nude?

Ernie: If you ask a minor to send a nude, it is the crime of Soliciting Child Pornography, which is a federal felony.

Lauren: What if the person requesting the nude is also a minor?

Ernie: It doesn’t matter. If the picture is of a minor, the age of the person requesting the picture doesn’t matter.

Lauren: What about sexting as a minor? No pictures, just sexy talk?

Ernie: Sexy talk is not illegal as long as you aren’t asking someone to send you nude pics. However, you can’t use sexy talk to try to convince a minor to have sex. That would be Enticing a Minor, which means luring, coercing, or convincing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.

Lauren: What is the age of consent?

Ernie: In the United States, the age of consent is either sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen, depending on the state. In most states it’s sixteen. In Canada and the UK it’s sixteen. The age of consent that controls legally is the law in the place where the sexual contact takes place, not the law in the place you live. So, if you have sex in another state or country, the age of consent may be different from what it is in your home jurisdiction.

Lauren: If two people under the age of consent have sex voluntarily, is that considered rape?

Ernie: The quick answer is yes, they’re both committing statutory rape.

Lauren: Who gets punished?

Ernie: Who gets punished is going to be up to the local prosecutors and police. The answer usually is the person who’s older, even if they’re only older by a year.

Lauren: What exactly is consent?

Ernie:  That’s a great question and a confusing area because, to start with, consent is an agreement freely made between people. It’s when someone freely agrees to engage in certain conduct or behavior. The problem is if you’re a minor you’re not legally able to give that consent so even if you say yes I would like to have sex with you, if you’re underage, it’s not legally effective and the person you’re with is committing a felony—a sexual assault or a rape. And that’s hard for young people to understand.

Lauren: The legal landscape of sex and tech is vastly more confusing than I thought. Have your clients found it as bewildering as I have?

Ernie: When I think about the young people I represent, the word that comes to mind most is “baffled.” They’re baffled at why what they did is a crime, why they’re being charged with a crime—and their parents are baffled at how their child wound up in this situation. It’s a confusing area.

Lauren: Can you give me some examples?

Ernie: I represented a seventeen-year-old boy who had a fifteen-year-old girlfriend. He was prosecuted for statutory rape. The girl’s parents didn’t approve of him and really pushed for the prosecution, and he wound up with a felony on his criminal record. He didn’t go to jail, but he was on a lengthy probation and it really affected his life. He had to register as a sex offender. He never thought he was committing a crime, having sex with his girlfriend.

In another case, a seventeen-year-old was charged with Enticing a Minor for texting to a fifteen-year-old girl asking her to meet him to drink beer and “fool around”. She had initiated the texts. Her parents found the texts and reported him to the police. It absolutely ruined his senior year of high school and really damaged all of the kids involved.

Lauren: In both of those cases the boys were prosecuted and the girls were treated as victims. Is that typical?

Ernie: Most often the girls are seen as the “victims” by the system and the law, even when the girl herself doesn’t feel like a victim. In fact, she may have wanted very much to engage in sexual activity, or send nudes, and then is very surprised—baffled—that her intent and her feelings about the encounter may not matter at all to the adults who are judging the situation. What I also see though is young girls and women doing things that they probably know are crimes in retaliation for sexual extortion, (i.e., unauthorized sharing of their photos) or just generally reprehensible treatment by boys and young men.

Lauren: Retaliating how?

Ernie: I represented one teen girl who made a bomb threat to her ex-boyfriend’s school, using his email address. She had his login info, and when he started posting things about her in social media that were really upsetting, and treating her like she was disposable, she just felt very powerless and desperate to make it stop. Unfortunately, she chose a really self-destructive way to do it. Your character Tarkin Shaw (popular, thin-skinned, predatory athlete) in Send Pics reminds me of her ex-boyfriend actually, and I think this young woman was feeling powerless and desperate in the ways you write about in the book.

Lauren: Is there anything that girl could have done to stop her ex-boyfriend from posting harmful things?

Ernie: Her legal recourse was to bring the problem to a parent or lawyer or someone she trusts who can address it. Honestly, when you are the person being abused, extorted, or used like this, you really aren’t in a good position emotionally or cognitively to take action to stop it. The answers to questions about what laws are being broken, if any, are always very fact-specific, and the way out of these kinds of situations is often not obvious or intuitive.

The last thing you want to do is what the kids in Send Pics did—they were desperate and didn’t get any help or support from adults, which led to even more dire consequences. Don’t fight the monster yourself. Get yourself a knight to fight him for you. I recognize that it’s hard to ask for help, because you’re embarrassed and maybe ashamed, and maybe you think you’re to blame for what was done to you, or that you got yourself into the situation and have to get yourself out. That’s not true, and taking actions on your own, based on thinking that is clouded by the extreme emotions that these situations cause, will almost always lead you into trouble.  And once you’re in trouble, you lose credibility for what you say about the abuser. It’s sad, but true.

As an attorney, I want teenagers (and their parents) to understand the law. I hope to contribute to a world in which people don’t hurt themselves or others when it comes to sex. If it means fewer clients, that’d be fine by me.

LAUREN MCLAUGHLIN is the author of Send Pics, and four other Young Adult novels. Follow her at www.laurenmclaughlin.net, Twitter: @LaurenMcWoof, Instagram: @laurenmclaughlin3, Facebook: www.facebook.com/lauren.mclaughlin.books

ERNIE STONE has been a criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts since 1996. Follow him at  herneststone.com, Instagram: @ernest_stone_atty, Facebook: @herneststone