Thursday, March 08, 2007


Given that Baudrillard died the other day, I thought I would write a brief post about cybersex. What is cybersex exactly? It is a form of mutual masturbation (or even just titillation) between two people who are, at that moment, not in bodily contact with each other, and who way well be thousands of miles apart. The form of communication is instant messaging, and there is almost always a small delay involved. The form varies, but usually the participants will know what the other looks like, for they will have exchanged photos. There is always the chance that the photo you receive will be a fake, but since both are eager to enter into, to believe, the fantasy, this should not present a problem.

Sometimes the photos will be of the person clothed, sometimes scantily clothed, sometimes not clothed at all. In this aspect, cybersex is an inherently generous affair - it absolutely respects the objet petit a, in that the other person´s looks really do not matter. If you have a cybersex partner who you find sexy, great. But if not, since the whole thing is about fantasy anyway, you would not be disrespectful to think of, or look at, someone else entirely.

Webcams may also feature, so that one or both participants can see each other´s sexual acts in real time ; here, often the participants will be two couples, voyeurs, poseurs, neurotics, exhibitionists, toy-addicts, toe-fetishists, scatters (well, sorry, but it´s true) etc etc.

Cybersex has not and will not replace sex qua sex, for it is itself another form of sex. (By the way, does anybody else get thoroughly pissed off when people say - ah, only penetration is sex, a blow-job isn´t sex, a hand-job isn´t sex, licking someone out isn´t sex - well, why the hell not??) People have regular cyber-partners, or cyber-fuck-buddies. This defines the phenomenon of hyper-reality, or the simulacrum, as well as anything. A profound (for we are forbidden from describing it in any other terms) human experience has been replicated by two people sitting at two computer-screens talking dirty to each other. Cybersex is truly, to quote Baudrillard, "the desert of the real." The unnavigable, non-symbolisable, non-articulable Real has been opened.

The advantages of contact-sex - let´s call it that, though it seems akin to comparing wrestling with snooker - over cybersex are obvious. Kinda. So what are they?

Before we answer that, let´s recall Barthes´ analysis of Parisian strip-joints : that the girl has an erotic impact upon the male viewer up until she is naked, whereupon the viewer experiences a terrible let-down (no, that´s not a pun - behave). Real, fleshy nudity can take the promise of sexuality and deflate it cruelly.

And, speaking of which, let´s recall the debate Andrew and I had recently about the promise of sex being always-already in the future. And being a space for pure narcissism (for what else is there?).

And let´s recall "Contract" by the Gang of Four :

The same again
Another disagreement
You dreamed of scenes
Like you read of in magazines
A new romance
Invented in the bedroom

Is this really the way it is
Or a contract in our mutual interest?
Is this really the way it is
Or a contract in our mutual interest?

Another disappointment
We couldn't perform
In the way the others wanted
These social dreams
Put in practice in the bedroom
Is this so private
Our struggle in the bedroom

So the fact that cybersex doesn´t allow for bodily contact, often doesn´t allow you to see your partner naked (or indeed see them at all), and the fact that it is, when it comes down to it, mutual masturbation, shouldn´t be necessarily negative factors.

So all those obvious advantages of actual sex - like I said, what are they?


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