Sex sits of the world of the internet
(CGI—computer-generated imagery—was a huge gaming and cinematic breakthrough in the 1990s.) Cybersex was sim stim.For a time it went by the cringe-worthy name “teledildonics.” And at the time, it was pure hokum. And much of it was emerging from Usenet and newsgroups.In the early days of the Web, Mayes notes, “the digital sexual image is very private—you take it, put it up on your computer, share it just with the people you want to see it. For all the benefits that these websites brought us—gay and straight and otherwise—little did we know the extent to which our personal images would become public commodities that had the potential to spin out of control.”The Internet, for many, was a virtual singles bar.On the largest dating sites, chemistry (both sexual and interpersonal) would be replaced by algebra.
At the same time, Mayes recalls, the digital photography revolution of the 1990s served to enhance the sex lives of those who were drawn to the visual, to exchanging private pictures, and to creating homespun erotica that might invite and satisfy the fellow male gaze.
There were hatchling websites that stole printed porn pictures and posted them as their own; sites that featured virtual strip blackjack; sites where online models popped up in tiny matchbook-size peep-holes, responding to keyboard commands (“How about removing those fish-nets? The Internet began to micropander to every type of sexual connoisseur.
One of the earliest Net-sex horror stories involved an online skeeve who turned out to be a con artist. One of the West Coast leaders of sex-positive feminism, Bright in the early 1990s had left her job editing .
So when he started extorting money from her, she didn’t even see it [coming].”Bright remembers that one of the other WELL participants chimed in. Yes, he had been a big fanboy and told me how much he just loved-loved-loved the idea of seeing me and he would do anything for me when I came to New York.
“The woman stopped her and said, ‘This same thing is happening to me and I haven’t told anyone because I’m so embarrassed and ashamed and I’m starting to feel like a chump. Then I said, ‘Well, we can meet.’ He was based in New Jersey.
There were quite a lot of women on The WELL—for an Internet group, it was a shocking number. It didn’t even occur to me that computers were supposed to be a guy-only space.