Interesting article--perhaps moreso to me than anyone else? Anyway, I'm posting it because I'd really like some opinions from you.
(Sex Drive Commentary by Regina Lynn)
Naughty, But Only on the Internet
It's a cliché that on the internet that no one knows you're a dog but everyone suspects you're a man. And as the joke goes, the hotter the female avatar, the uglier the man at the keyboard.
But during my first same-sex experience in a chat room online, everyone in the room knew we were two women having sex.
It was closest I have ever come to having sex with a woman, and until that point, I would have told anyone who asked that I was 100 percent straight -- certainly no more than a .5 on the ancient Kinsey Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale. I had no interest in women at all, not even in my fantasies or in porn.
We began a little performance for the men in the chat, each of us wondering whether the other would chicken out.
As our game played out, something shifted. My mind sharpened. My sense of "being there" increased. And my body began to respond, just as it did when cybering with a male. But just as I accepted what was happening -- she cut it short with a private message: Stop, I'm too uncomfortable.
I've lost count of how many times I've seen similar themes played out online, as people discover inner sexual resources they didn't know they had, often by accident. We go online to try one thing, like group sex or shoe fetishes, and end up finding fulfillment in something else, like strip Scrabble. Or we seek a compromise between real-world relationship commitments and sexual needs we can't ignore.
One Sex Drive reader said in an e-mail that he'd been married for several years before realizing he was bisexual. The internet offered a place to figure himself out without forcing confrontation or premature change in his marriage.
"I used Second Life as a means of therapy (for lack of a better word) to explore the homosexual side of me without breaking the 'rules' of my marriage," he writes.
It took about a year for him to recognize that he wasn't in need of relationships with men after all. "It wasn't about another male per se but instead a male body I enjoyed," he says. "Now, gay pornography suffices. I don't have to negotiate emotions and feelings -- I can just passively watch."
It's surprising (considering how many men feel physically ill at the thought of unknowingly flirting or cybering with another man) how many otherwise heterosexual men I hear from see no conflict in same-sex activities online.
Another tells me that his only physical same-sex encounter happened in high school more than 40 years ago, but he has cybered with both men and women in the past five years.
Will going online to get around societal prohibitions about sex, and then learning it's no big deal, transform America into a more sexually tolerant culture overall? Ask me again in 20 years.
But I won't discount the importance our individual experiences have in our lives right now, not just for ourselves but for our immediate circle. How wonderful for a teenager struggling with sexual identity if his father understands. How much more comfortable for co-workers when they realize you care more about the quality of their work than the sex of their partners.
That first bisexual encounter had a profound and lasting effect on me. It was disconcerting to have my sense of who I was sexually turned upside down, especially since I had entered adult chat to figure out what I liked to do with men. It never occurred to me I would end up having sex with a woman -- and liking it enough to respond physically, and to feel its premature end so sharply.
It would be an exaggeration to say that I'm now bisexual, although I am equal opportunity for flirting and online play. And while I have felt genuine physical attraction to a few women since that chat opened my eyes, I certainly have no interest in developing a same-sex romantic relationship. (I know exactly how much trouble women are!)
But I did reach a deeper understanding of sex as a connection between humans -- one in which chromosomes do not figure as prominently as I had thought.
It seems to me that the part of cybersex that attracts the most criticism -- the absence of touch -- is the part that gives it such potential to deepen our understanding of sex. It's no bad thing to set aside our bodies once in awhile and just be people, no matter what our plumbing looks like.
"I think these measures (like the Kinsey scale) are inherently flawed," says erotica author Nobilis, a man in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship who believes an erotic scene only works if you get turned on while you write it -- even if you're "straight" and it is "gay."
"There are sexual experiences I seek out, others I avoid, and others that I'm only somewhat interested in," he says. "Gender is only one of many considerations for any given experience."