What comes to mind when you think about sex? The most common image of sex would probably be vaginal intercourse but some may consider oral sex, anal sex, BDSM or certain fetishes to be categories of sex. What about internet sex or cybersex? Is sexual stimulation through text cybersex and webcam cybersex a healthy and valid way to achieve sexual pleasure? In this post I will discuss the world of internet sex as detailed in Dennis Waskul’s, “Internet Sex: The Seductive ‘Freedom To’”, and my argument regarding its health and validity as a sexual practice.
Dennis Waskul does not provide his personal opinion in this article nor does he argue for anything. He simply incorporates other people’s experiences, interpretations, and facts, leaving the reader with a wide array of opinions based on his analysis. Waskul defines cybersex as any “erotic forms of real-time computer-mediated communication” (Waskul 364). Communication is important because it excludes porn and focuses on the interaction with another (usually anonymous) person behind another screen. In fact, this anonymity is essential to most people who participate in internet sex because it gives them the freedom to imagine much about their partner, leaving open the possibility of sexual fantasies in the mind of the cybersexer. Waskul addresses other reasons for the attachment to cybersex through accounts of real people. Many experience performance anxiety in real life sexual encounters, and cybersex frees them from the embarrassment of not performing well enough. Others enjoy it due to disenchantment and insecurity with their own bodies, the boredom of the same sexual partner, or simply the rush of mystery and imagination. Various forms of internet sex such as text and webcam cybersex give participants many methods to achieve sexual pleasure, but the consequences of reality still exist.
The article makes it apparent that internet sex is not all good, especially for the people participating. Apparently “200,000 Americans are likely to be addicted to sex on the internet” (Waskul 369), and relationships and marriages have been destroyed due to cybersex. Internet sex can be seen as the ultimate sexual freedom because it has no boundaries, and unfortunately, freedom can be and is abused. Waskul’s incorporation of real cybersexer’s accounts of their emotions and experiences benefits his analysis because it adds authenticity. It gives the reader an insight into the benefits of cybersex and the consequences. In my opinion the article is limited by the lack of insight into legal ramifications involving unwanted nudity on webcam sites and other sexual actions online.
In my opinion there is no benefit from cybersex (not including a couple on Skype) because it has the potential to ruin existing relationships and prevent insecure, sexually frustrated individuals from seeking out and finding real loving, sexual relationships. In fact social media in general seems to be detracting teens and adults from meaningful relationships. In Sasha Belenky’s article, “What I’m Reading: Sex, Teens, and Social Media”, she addresses how social media apps and sites like Facebook and Tinder are “robbing America’s youth of meaningful relationships” (Belenky 1). Social media is allowing people to skip the date and instantaneously have sex, the central idea around hookup culture. Social media makes this instantaneous sexual gratification possible, and internet sex carries the same idea. With internet sex, instant sexual pleasure can be achieved except for one difference: cybersex does not involve the real-life sexual interaction that a hookup provides. This is the disconnect, but the issue remains the same for both social media and internet sex: they are eliminating the need to create lasting relationships because the sexual gratification is so much easier to come by.
In the article “Purity and Pollution”, Nancy Fisher addresses the various interpretations of morality and immorality regarding certain sexual actions. Fisher argues that an immoral sexual action in one society may be completely acceptable in another place or during another time. Internet sex itself cannot fit into a moral or immoral category because people have the freedom to choose which sexual actions and fantasies they perform and think about. Vaginal sex in the missionary position is widely accepted as a moral sexual act in this society while the implementation of violence and blood in sexual activity is deemed as immoral. Both actions can be emulated through cyber text or webcam so it is impossible to call internet sex moral or immoral. Rather, internet sex is a medium through which moral and immoral sexual actions can be performed. Here lies my reasoning for cybersex not being a valid and healthy form of sexual pleasure: it is not even a form of sex, but rather an artificial replacement for real sexual attraction with an intimate lover.
The first thing that came to my mind when reading about internet sex was the webcam site Omegle. The site allows users to connect with random people across the globe through webcam, and no sexual activity is allowed (clearly stated on the home page). Yet, despite this clear warning, you are likely to see a multitude of exposed penises in your time on the website. Based on Waskul’s definition of cybersex, this disguting, illegal, and unwanted exposure of the genitals is technically cybersex because it is erotic (to the naked person), in real time, online, and a form of communication. This goes back to Waskul’s emphasis on freedom and how this freedom can be abused, often in illegal and immoral ways. Perhaps I would have a more positive analysis of cybersex if it were only limited to consensual, sane practices. Is cybersex sex? Do you believe that cybersex is a healthy way to achieve sexual pleasure? Is it fair to group all cybersexers into one category? Do you think this phenomenon of cybersex addiction will increase over the years?