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Sexting is an act of sending explicit of pictures of oneself to who one desires.

While the practice is often associated with teenagers, the reality is that more and more of the 50-plus set, both single and married, routinely use text messaging to send tantalising pictures and provocative words to their partner, according to relationship experts.

A new survey has revealed that South Africans are the front-runners in the sexting scene, with 77% claiming they have done it.

And this makes South Africa, according to the survey which was conducted by Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute and the Berlin-based women’s health start-up, Clue, the top sexting nation in the world.

Local sexologist, Marlene Wasserman, who practices under the name Dr Eve, told The Sunday Independent this is not an unusual phenomenon.

“There’s a regulation around public violence, not around porn. Porn sites can’t be regulated,” says Wasserman.

“Technology has become a cultural revolution of communication. It is not unusual now.

We’ve always put a negative spin on it but it isn’t.

“We have to adapt to the new normal. The way we now communicate has changed,” she adds.

Wasserman reckons people need to be educated more on how to “sext” effectively.

“We need to educate people on how we do it in a more effective way.

Why is it bad, why are we bad-mouthing sexting?

“I think it’s quite wonderful that we have a mechanism to be able to explore our sexuality and share it with someone else.

“It’s always been the dangers we’re talking about - where young people are sexting and sending their pictures. We should be teaching people rather how to be a conscious sexter, to think about it before you press that send button.

“It doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. We really need to get over this idea that sexting is a bad thing. It’s open to abuse.

“Should we or should we not be talking about how to do it with a more conscious mind, in a more responsible way with the idea of what are the consequences if we are going to do it.

“We want to be teaching people about responsible behaviour rather than saying sexting is bad. It’s about how we abuse it as people.

“If you speak to people who are sexting, you will find they get a huge amount of pleasure out of it. It enhances your intimacy because you are able to trust each other online,” says Wasserman.

She believes when done in an intelligent way, it can be enjoyable.

“You have to be comfortable with what you are sending.

“Do it in a smart way - don’t put your face on it, send your breasts, send your butt; send your genitals if you want, but don’t send sex images that are going to reveal who you are.

“You still get the thrill and positivity of exploring it because it is extremely empowering for women especially when they can look and admire themselves.

“Do it but just be aware to do it smartly so that you are not going to regret it afterwards because it will be out there. If it is on social media, it has the potential of reaching anyone else,” Wasserman warns.

While women have always been confined to play inferior roles in society, they have been frowned upon when they generally take to exploring their sexuality.

“Women are tired of tying knots around their reputations, and not having the freedom to enjoy their bodies.

“It gives women freedom to express themselves. Do it responsibly. In a way you can’t be identified,” Wasserman urges.

Sunday Independent