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9 March 2006
Straight Men Use Internet To Indulge Homosexual Fantasies
by George Atkinson

A new report from Malmö University College in Sweden has found that a surprising number of ostensibly heterosexual men are having cyber-sex with other men. Michael W. Ross, author of the dissertation Typing, Doing and Being - A Study of Men Who Have Sex with Men and Sexuality on the Internet, believes it is because the Internet has created an anonymous environment where people can experiment with their sexuality.

The report, according to Ross, shows that the Internet is changing human sexuality and it could provide new - and anonymous - methods for health workers to reach people. "The findings show that we reach people via the Internet that we would never, or only with difficulty, have reached in traditional ways," said Ross. He cited as an example the fact that among men who have sex with other men, those reached via Internet questionnaires - compared with contacts made by more traditional ways - were younger, less well-educated, more often residents of smaller towns and rural areas, and more bisexually oriented.

Ross also examines social scientific theories and sexuality in relation to the Internet, including the possibility of going halfway between fantasy and action, the Internet as an arena for sexual experimentation, and the impact of the Internet regarding the creation of sexual cultures and sexuality. "When I examined the data regarding the Internet and sexuality in Sweden, I understood that it was in fact a new space for sexual interaction, an 'erotic oasis,' that does not resemble other spaces for sexual encounters. I was fascinated by what was going on via the Internet," explained Ross.

He also examines the phenomenon of "misrepresentation," where people provide a different image of themselves on the Internet. "Data from the Swedish study show that 10 percent of those interviewed were heterosexual men who had had cyber-sex with another man," said Ross. "This is something new. Previously these fantasies only played out in the mind of the individual, but now she or he can practice them interactively via the Internet with the protection of anonymity. The borders between the concepts of who you are, [what's] true and false can shift."

Based on material from the Swedish Research Council




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