Results from the survey Harris Interactive poll have been flying around the Internet because apparently 46 percent of the women surveyed would give up sex rather than lose their Internet connection. A lot of reports I saw interpreted this as women preferring blogging to screwing. But I’m not sure that stands up. (Though, of course, I get that it’s amusing to joke about.)
In the last chapter of my book, How to Be a Geek Goddess: Practical Advice for Using Computers with Smarts and Style, I interview a lot of women who used the Internet as an extension of their intimate relationships and as a way to find intimate relationships either because they were solo and wanted to change that or because their spouse or lover was far away physically (just for a few hours or because of work or war) and the Internet was the very means they used to connect. So if you look at what people actually use the Internet for, asking them to choose between it and sex is hardly an either or question. Maybe when the men in the survey said they were unwilling to give up sex for their Internet connection because they hadn’t considered how much one leads to â€“or stand in forâ€”the other.
I explore the topic at some length in my book, covering everything from online dating to porn but here is an excerpt to whet your appetite.
Virtual and Vicarious Sex
One step up from a virtual date night is virtual sex. This idea often evokes images of perverts and scary dungeons in the minds of women, so you might be surprised to learn exactly how popular this private entertainment is. According to the Cybersex and Romance Survey of 15,000 people done by Elle and MSNBC in 2004, “81 percent of men and 53 percent of women are sampling some kind of sex-related activity online, whether participating in adult chat rooms, posting to a sex newsgroup or interacting with someone on a live webcam. Porn is also popularâ€”41 percent of women and 75 percent of men who responded have intentionally viewed or downloaded erotic films or photos.”
So if you’ve toyed with the idea of logging on for a bit of titillation, you are hardly a deviant. In fact, if you haven’t, you are something of a minority. â€¦ Okay, I know you are wondering, “What the heck is virtual sex? How the heck can sex be virtual?” Regina Lynn describes it in her book on sex and technology, Sex 2.0: “Cybersex, also known as ‘cyber’ or ‘cybering,’ is consensual sexual interaction among two or more adults using the Internet as the primary means of connection. I generally think of cybersex as a text-based activity because that’s my preference and that’s the way it’s been done for decades, but cyber can also include audio chat, avatar-based communities, and webcam conferencing.” So, you see, part of the beauty of virtual sex is that it is safe sex. There is no actual contactâ€”except the conversational variety.
This means it can also be anonymousâ€”something that’s hard to pull off in the real world. You can send an avatar out there to represent you, and no one has to know who is pulling its strings. In fact, it’s something of a debate as to whether virtual sex even qualifies as adultery if you are married. Though I doubt this argument would hold up after the fact, so if you want to play, you should probably clear it first with your partner. If you are ready to play, you actually don’t need much beyond what you already use for keeping track of your finances and sending email to your mother. If you have a partner and already use instant messaging (the most popular tool for virtual sex), all you need to do is take your IM flirting up a notch. You can use a webcam if you want to, but it’s hardly necessary. Everything that is true of language and romance is also true on instant messagingâ€”just turn the heat on your language up to high. (Talk dirty!) Put your inhibitions aside, dim the lights, find some privacy, and go for it. “Cybersexâ€”like actual sex, now that I think about itâ€”always looks ridiculous from the outside,” says Lynn. “Yet good cybersex is so much more than the words on the screen . . . It can be such a profound erotic connection between two people that they forget their surroundings and see only the interaction; their bodies respond as if they were really touching, and their emotions don’t always know the difference.”
Don’t forget! I’m giving away three copies of my book right here at GeekGirlfriends.com. Go here to play.Â Right now you have a three in 17 chance of winning. Them’s pretty good odds.