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Cybersex Addiction


Callers are the guests


Topic: Cybersex Addiction

On a psychological level, cybersex involves the uncensored exploration of sexual fantasies; on a physical level, it involves masturbation. Americans have a long tradition of linking sexual fantasy and self-love with danger, disease and the destruction of the family. After all, these are the purest forms of sexual self-expression, and they can't be controlled by "community standards" or confined by a white picket fence. We may have shed the superficial trappings of our Puritan and Victorian heritage, but we still cling to the old-fashioned belief that "normal" sex equals intercourse, and intercourse saps energy we could be channeling into more socially productive endeavors. We're afraid to enjoy "too much" sex, and worry that "excessive" sex will destroy the moral fiber of our nation.

Whenever these beliefs are challenged -- previous threats include the sexual revolution, queer activism, and the rise of grassroots pornography -- there's a backlash of heightened anxiety around sexual expression. Jack Morin, whose book The Erotic Mind explores the nature of sexual arousal, points out that "Individuals have certain scripts that are significant to them erotically, and cultures do too. One of our culture's shared narratives right now is that sex is dangerous and destructive. There's a culture-wide focus on the dark potential of sex ... which has been increasing in direct proportion to greater sexual freedom."

We tell ourselves the same ambivalent story about technology. We seesaw between an enthusiastic embrace of technology's liberating possibilities and an overwrought fear that machines will somehow seize control from humans. As a vast, amorphous, democratic medium, the Web is practically tailor-made to inspire an anxiety of excess. The unprecedented availability of sexual materials online -- where kids can access porn sites, unsolicited X-rated emails arrive in your mailbox, and adults of every sexual proclivity swap explicit advice and encouragement -- can be overwhelming even to those of us who cheerfully embrace this erotic playground. To those men and women who feel that sexual impulses must be strictly controlled, the Internet is literally frightening.

Members of conservative religious and social groups, who blame pornography for luring the righteous off the path of moderate, monogamous sexuality, have been first in line to scapegoat the Web. Organizations such as Sex Addicts Anonymous or Focus on the Family have rallied around the notion of cybersex addiction, blaming the Internet for pumping "raw moral sewage directly into our homes" and thereby detonating the nuclear family.

Guest: Callers are the guests


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