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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Identity » The Internet and Sexual life

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Author Topic: The Internet and Sexual life
Jacob at Scarleteen
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 66249

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Hi all,

I read quite a lot of different articles and heard lots of people speak over the past few years about what effect access to the internet has on our sexualities, our sexual decisions and our self worth and identities.

From hardcore porn to sexual health advice, to facebook I have really felt a massive influence on me as sexual being has come from access to the internet, and without it I feel like I might have become a very different person...

I'm really interested to hear how other people have experienced the influence of the internet on their sex lives, their sexual identities etc?

I think finding Scarleteen in combination with erotic literature and on-line communities really gave me access to a lot more diverse and positive and complex understandings of sexuality that I think I could have been a lot more miserable without.

But at the same time being able to grow 'into' the internet somehow allowed me to develop a kind of private sexual world comprised of people from online erotic comunities and experience of porn and erotic writing I'd come across, and also doing positive volunteering online that wouldn't be appreciated elsewhere. I think I learnt the skill of automatically keeping a part of myself secret... I don't think I like that habit much at all.

So that's a brief bit of me, I wonder if other people have had similar experiences, but I'd be really interested in hearing what other people think the internet does/has-done for their sexual selves?

Posts: 694 | From: Leeds UK | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I thought this was fascinating when Jacob posted it.

I have no idea where my sexual self would be without the inernet. A lot poorer, certainly.

My sex education was basically adequate, but not great. No hint of non-straightness (thanks, Section 28 law ("no promotion of homosexuality in schools" - now thankfully gone)), so massive gaps there on health and safety. No discussion of real consent, no challenging of stereotypical gender roles, no discussion of actual women's desire. Incomplete information about contraception and STIs. Information on menstrual equipment limited to tampons and towels. Hellno information on kink, or even a suggestion that anything "unusual" might be ok, and hey, it would probably be better for you and everyone else that you hook yourself up with some information that is actually out there, even though we don't want to mention it here.

I grew up in a fairly conservative place, although not rigidly so. I don't think I even knew the word for my orientation, or that my orientation was even a "thing", until my late teens. And I'm talking "bisexual" here, not even anything more elaborate than that.

I'm a child sexual abuse survivor, and I did a fair amount of book-reading around that, so I had some clue. Then, a relationship ended that I realised had been pretty bad, and I felt like I didn't know a lot about what sex or sexual relationships could be like, so I went on a mission to inform myself. I read so much on the internet. Fortunately, I already knew how to judge the reliability of any kind of thing I read (thanks, History classes), so I was able to think about who it was who was writing, what they might know or not know, why they were writing it, where their knowledge came from, and why/if they could be lying. I learned a lot from reading the rubbish, too - I learned what rubbish some people could write and how messed-up a lot of mainstream attitudes seemed to me.

I was fortunate enough to follow a link maze to some good places, including Scarleteen. I learned a whole multi-coloured lot about queer orientations and gender identities, and realised I felt like I belonged there. I also feel blessed to have read about many experiences that I wouldn't have a clue about otherwise, and that knowledge makes me a lot less hurtful, ignorant and prejudiced towards lots of people than I otherwise would be.

I like some feminist angles on sex, where it could be about healthy, informed, considerate, free choice and not stereotypes or shame. The internet is where I discovered feminism, queerness, how multiple partners and/or casual sex wasn't a "wrong" or "shameful" thing, relationship models other than 2-person monogamy, kink, anti rape-culture communities, body-positive ideas and communities. I would be terribly poor and unhappy without the internet. From the internet, I learned how to embrace my sexual self and how to be healthy, happy and fulfilled.

Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that I found kink information on the internet. I realise that it was trying to show up in my sex, had tried to show up in a past relationship, only I didn't know what it was. I came closer than I would like to hurting someone. I think I might have hurt someone some day if I'd gone on not knowing. As soon as I knew, everything was fine. As an abuse survivor, it had also been a bit confusing for me, but knowing what it was, and a bit of thought, it was obvious that the two had nothing to do with one another (except that anything similar to the abuse was totally unappealing to me) and I was very comforted. I was very fortunate (and perhaps wise) that I found kink through the feminist end of things, so I've never been much exposed to some of the not-so-good harmful kink-but-mainstream thoughts that are out there.

I was fortunate, I think, that I never watched porn on the internet, so I wasn't exposed to any of the behavioural or body "norms" in porn. I think my approach to sex was much freer because of that. I don't have a problem with porn as a concept, but I think that most porn that's actually out there is a major, major problem for people's expectations of what bodies should be like and what people should enjoy as sex. When I was trying to inform myself, I deliberately kept clear of porn; I thought it would probably subconsciously badly affect my thoughts.

I'm so thankful that the internet had all this stuff for me, but I do wish I could've learned it in a more learner-orientated way. Clicking around links and random searches landed me on some things that I was absolutely not ready for when I first read them. Some things really disturbed me, took me weeks to get my head around (things I'm fine with now, it was just too much too soon). I wish there had been someone or something to give me the information as I was ready for it. And I was early-mid 20s when I was doing all that reading, and with background knowledge at least around abuse, and a long-term sexual relationship behind me. I can't imagine trying to navigate the information I came across as a person with less of those experiences.

I've also met a number of sexual partners via a sex advert or two. (NB. For personal safety, do not do this without checking every which way that you're fully informed about Everything about meeting people this way, then go away, breathe and think for a while, then go back and check again. And yes, I followed my own advice.) There are some lovely people, and some great experiences, that I would never have met without the internet. And for the icing on the cake, I met my partner, who on all current evidence seems to be a huge love of my life, unintentionally through a sex ad. Life is hilarious.

So, in short, (apologies for the massive essay), I identify as queer and look for queer people, know how to have healthy relationships, am happy and confident in my own sexual self, am happier and more confident in my body, know how to have healthy and safe sex, am much better with giving and receiving consent, know not to have wrong expectations of sexual partners, am less judgey, am happy in a committed non-monogamous relationship when I couldn't bear the thought of a monogamous one, and met an incredible friend and love, all because of the internet. I just wish that the path had been more supported and less bewildering, and at times, plain scary.

The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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You know it's funny, I read a lot of the posts on Scarleteen and emphathise with them, and then I see, "oh, that was from Heather" or "that was from Redskies" and am surprised but proud, that people can live their lives with such strength and courage, and basic humanity, which I think almost all of us have, just that sometimes it can take a little big of digging. So congrats to all of you who have had the courage to get through bad times and come out the other end a much more informed and happy person! [Smile]
Posts: 540 | From: Australia | Registered: Feb 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Originally posted by Redskies:

My sex education was basically adequate, but not great. No hint of non-straightness (thanks, Section 28 law ("no promotion of homosexuality in schools" - now thankfully gone)), so massive gaps there on health and safety. No discussion of real consent, no challenging of stereotypical gender roles, no discussion of actual women's desire.

I'm a child sexual abuse survivor, and I did a fair amount of book-reading around that, so I had some clue.

I can definitely relate. [Smile] I don't consider my sex ed schooling to have been great or even adequate. It was completely hetero-centric with no mentions of consent, communication, or respect among partners. In that sense, Internet sex ed, particularly Scarleteen, has broadened my understanding immeasurably. Reading about the experiences of others has also helped me to understand more about sexuality in general, as well as the differences between what is okay and not okay in a relationship.

I, too, am a child sexual abuse survivor, to which I partly attribute my lack of understanding of healthy relationship dynamics due to having had a terrible role model. In fact, it wasn't until I came across an article on the Internet defining and detailing the different kinds of abuse that I realized I was abused at all. That led, subsequently, to my telling of the abuse to my mother and the police. Without the Internet, I would've been too ashamed to look elsewhere for information and, thus, would've probably waited for many more years before "coming out" with my story. The Internet, for me, has been lifesaving. It has been the stepping stone for me in getting the professional help that I need, both in separating myself from the abuser, and in counselling. [Smile]

"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

Posts: 537 | From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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