Cybersexualities and Virtual Sexuality Essay

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Just as when photography and film were first introduced they generated the pornographic photograph and film, so as soon as the newer information technologies appeared, an erotic world of cybersex and intimacy appeared alongside and embedded within it. New information technologies are used in ways that can facilitate new patterns of sexualities and intimacies. Surfing the Internet gives access to a medium full of intimate words and images: from guidance pages on infertility (over a million sites on sperm banks), to sites engaged in bride-mail ordering; from images of the most ”extreme” sexual fetishes (”Extreme” is indeed the name given to one such site), to access to potentially endless partners on email.

These new technologies have generated multiple new forms of intimacy: sex messaging, sex chat rooms, sex news groups and bulletin boards, email discussion groups, camcorder sex, new forms of porn, access to relationships of all kinds, new social movement campaigns around sexuality, even so-called cyborg sex, teledildonics, virtual sex, and new approaches to the body and emergent ”techno-identities” and ”techno-cultures.” Along with this a new language has emerged that mirrors new forms of sexualities: cyberporn, cyberqueer, cyberstalk-ing, cyberrape, cybervictim, cybersex. Although such new forms can result in people meeting in real space for ”real sex,” there is also a great deal of masturbatory sex being generated through these media, as well as virtual sex taking place in these virtual spaces.

Cybersexualities, then, are becoming increasingly an important means of sexual communication in the twenty-first century. And they have both positive and negative impacts. They reveal changing spaces and boundaries for new forms of sexualities and suggest key shifts in public/private dimensions. Through both webcams and the global nature of communications the old boundaries in sexual relations break down. The body starts to change its contours – no longer simply fixed and corporeal, but fluid, boundary-less and ”virtual.”

Bibliography:

  • Waskful, D. D. (ed.) (2004) Net.SeXXX: readings on sex, pornography and the Internet. Digital Formations 23.

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