Posted By Jeff on February 5, 2009
“Sexual Network,” as a term, comes with some baggage, given that it is mostly used by doctors and academics when studying the transmission of STDs. In other words, you are more likely to hear it accusingly when looking backwards: Who might you have infected? Who might have afflicted you?
For Into Temptation,” I’m reclaiming sexual networks, and sexual networking, as being the most interesting component of social networking. Which of the next 100 people whose profile you look at on MySpace or Facebook … or OKCupid or PlentyofFish … or AdultSpace.com, or Fetlife.com, or sex.com. (Note that I’ve picked just a small sample of free sites) … well, which of them do you think you might like to fuck, and what are you going to do about it? That is the forward-looking model of a sexual network, defined by connections that can be made, potential sexual partners, barely restrained lust and anticipation and possibility … you get the idea.
But still, there is the baggage. When I have told women my own sexual history, traced my network backwards — the entries mount up. (How high? Do you really care?) And yet I have never had a sexually transmitted disease.
“You’re lucky,” I’ve been told.
Perhaps. There is some assumption out there that if you date a lot, if you sleep with and have sex with and fuck quite a few partners, over time, eventually, your number will come up. And people think this is more true if you have sex with people you meet over the Internet because there is a lingering presumption that “those people” are a little more sluttish, desperate … maybe even less honest than the rest of the dating population.
Remembering back to the 1970s and ’80s, I tend to think that I was more sluttish and desperate, and maybe less honest, when I was trying to pick up women in bars than I ever have been in pursuing someone online. It’s much easier to screen and filter; the number of available partners is much larger and so, by definition, is the number of suitable ones. For example, you can’t screen for basic literacy in a bar nearly as effectively as you can in e-mail.
Yet the stereotype persists.
So I was both gratified and amused to read about a new scientific study that suggests that people like me, meaning heterosexual men, who have sex with partners they meet online may actually have lower rates of sexually transmitted disease than the rest of the population that meets in every other way. (No specific data for those who meet in church, unfortunately. That, I’d like to see.)
Gus Cairns did the story:
Finding sex through the internet does not increase the risk of catching the two most common sexually transmitted infections, a U.S. survey published in Sexually Transmitted Infections has found. Indeed in the case of heterosexual men, meeting partners through the internet was associated with a lower risk of sexually transmitted infections compared with other ways of meeting.
I’ll be needing to read the full article, which is not free online though can be purchased here. It’s not in the Into Temptation budget but I can get it at the Smith College library.
In other Into Temptation news, we had more than 1,200 page views yesterday, breaking a thousand for the first time, which I think is pretty good for a six-week-old independent blog. I probably should thank the woman currently known as Natalie Dylan and whoever it was that sneaked porn into the Comcast Superbowl telecast in Tucson, because that’s what everyone was reading.