Want easy sex in time of need? So do
a billion other people, and they’re all on
hook-up and dating apps.
It isn’t just Tinder anymore. There’s an app
for your personality type, your job status,
and your level of dedication to the dating game.
Perhaps you want to have a one night stand tonight
but meet your future spouse for dinner this weekend.
There is an app for that. Maybe you’re scared shitless
by the dating app game and need your friends to take the wheel.
There is an app for that, too. Maybe you just need someone to
drag along during wedding season. Get on the apps bandwagon.
As we become more businesslike about shopping
for love [sex?], the list of what we look for
in a partner gets longer.
We’re not just looking for a romantic attachment,
we’d like a friend, confidant, sexual partner,
co-parent, sometimes even a business partner.
As our expectations grow, dating sites offer
increasingly sophisticated packages to help
us meet our perfect match.
Zoosk offers behavioural matchmaking:
rather than using detailed personality
questionnaires, it analyses how you
interact with the site to predict
your best matches.
Although you might say you’re
interested in intellectual types,
if you tend to linger over the
profiles of honed gym bunnies,
Zoosk might steer you in that direction.
Web-Based Fantasy Sex
Have you explored online dating and hook-ups? For increasing numbers of people, this is their primary arena for sexual flirting, dirty-talk, “selfies”, fantasy, and – much more rarely – actual sex. This trend is not a gradual one:
College has also dipped since 2000 as a place to meet, but only modestly; bars and restaurants have ticked upward, and the internet, predictably, has exploded.
With countless interactive hook-up sites, and ever more apps that combine sexting with GPS, a huge proportion of the current and future generations will have sent pics of their boobs or butts or junk as a form of sexual play, fantasy, virtual interactive pornography, and, to a lesser extent, getting laid. That’s simply the reality.
Humans are sexual beings, and given a new obsessive-compulsive toy to play with, the Internet, their first instinct was to see how they could use it to get off. Porn and virtual sex sites not only power the web, they helped create it.
I see nothing here that any sane society would try to stop or regulate. Men are more prone to this instant, impulsive, fantasy-driven sexual gratification (testosterone is a powerful drug), but women are also involved.
And if you display every detail of every sext-chat in public, both parties will be as embarrassed as if someone had taped the sex talk in their bedroom and broadcast it on the radio.
But embarrassment is not shame. And as long as both parties are adults acting consensually – and in virtual space, no coercion is really possible – I fail to see any scandal.
It’s a way to blow off steam, without the risk of STDs or pregnancy. It can indeed distort one’s view of sexuality; it can objectify people with ruthless efficiency.
It can make actual sex more difficult. But it’s nothing different from another arena for us to court, display and preen our sexual selves. It was ever thus.
For any married man, the core ethical question is whether the behavior is with his spouse’s awareness and consent – or not.
Couples should be allowed some flexibility in managing their marriages, as they see fit. No one outside a marriage can fully know what’s in it, or what makes it work. For my part, I favor maximal privacy for all married couples in navigating the shoals of sex and life online and off.
Monogamous, monogamish, and open relationships are all up to the couples themselves and all have risks and advantages. But ultimately it is up to the spouse to decide if there has been a transgression or not, and whether to forgive and move forward or not.
Sex on the Rocks
In the early days of the internet we had almost
unlimited access to discussion on all aspects of sex.
There was an incredible blossoming
of communities related to sex and sexuality.
Now, in a perverse echo of the anti-obscenity fight
that following the last sexual revolution, safe
spaces for discussing sex are in real danger of disappearing.
In the past few years search engines
and social networking sites have worked
aggressively to limit sexual speech.
Websites flagged by Google as “adult” are routinely
banished from top search results (unless, of course,
you’re a paid advertiser).
Facebook suspends accounts for merely talking
about BDSM, and Tumblr announced that
it would no longer allow sexual content to be
returned in search results or tags.
Sexuality is back ‘under the counter’.
For many people this doesn’t seem like that big a deal.
Some doubt that it will have much effect on people’s
ability to find pornography.
Others, particularly those with small children
or from socially conservative backgrounds, may cheer
it as a good thing. It’s not. We’ve seen this hackneyed plot before.
When I was a child growing up in the 1980s I could find almost nothing that talked frankly about sexuality. The library held a few staid titles that discussed sexuality, but so clinically that I regarded myself as a case study.
What I saw on television presented sexuality as a morality tale. I had no way of knowing it at the time, but my ’80s dark ages were the result of a backlash against a previous flowering: the sexual revolution of the ’60s and ’70s.
Both revolutions were fueled by the availability of sexual speech — including porn. For all their other flaws, films like Deep Throat and Behind the Green Door were evangelists preaching that women, too, could enjoy sex.
In fact, the first films to survive obscenity prosecutions were documentaries about sex: Man and Wife and Sexual Freedom in Denmark.
Women showed up in force at those early films, in part because it was one of the few places where they could learn about the mechanics of sex. No one else would tell them about it.
Sexually explicit imagery provokes a visceral reaction, which makes it one of the best ways to consider and debate sex. It turns us on, or disgusts us, or shocks us. It’s also a validation of sexual behavior that’s marginalized and maligned by the larger culture.
Corporations like Google want to make the online experience as safe for advertisers as they’ve made the cities for real estate agents. The rest of us are forced to dig deeper and deeper to find reflections of ourselves. With each successive dig, we’re reminded that we’re not fit for polite conversation.