TAIWAN: Virtual sex opens new, safe doors, says Shu-te Univeristy academics

Dean of Graduate School of Human Sexuality says virtual sex expected to prevail and become socially acceptable

Taipei Times
Sunday, March 9, 2008

By Meggie Lu

In the age of the information technology boom, taboo expressions of sexuality will gradually become accepted by society and virtual sex will provide people with a safe way to seek sexual satisfaction, Shu-te University academics said yesterday.

In a questionnaire given to college students aged 18 to 24, 90 percent said they had heard of virtual sex. Among 800 Internet users surveyed separately, 50 percent said they had either had virtual sex or would consider trying it in the future, Fu Yi-wen, a student in the Graduate School of Human Sexuality, told a press conference in Taipei.

The surveys were part of Fu's doctoral thesis on sexuality and the Internet.

"The question is not whether we accept the idea of virtual sex -- it already exists in society and in the future we expect to see it prevail and become a socially accepted way of having sex," said Lin Yan-ching , the dean of the school.

Men are more accepting of virtual sex and view it as a novel, exciting and fun sexual outlet, Fu said, while women see it in a more negative light.

However, "regardless of gender, virtual sex provides a platform for sexual interaction that may not be possible or feasible in the real world," she said. "A lesbian could disguise herself as a man and have virtual sex with a woman online, who in turn may not actually be a woman at all," Fu said.

"One female graduate student we interviewed said that virtual sex allowed her to act in ways that contradicted her 'good girl' image in the real world," Fu said.

In her thesis, Fu identifies three categories of virtual sex: online messenger sex, phone sex and Webcam sex.

Each has pros and cons, she said.

"All are forms of 'safe sex' without pregnancy or the risk of sexually transmitted diseases; there are no time or location constraints; and anonymity is almost guaranteed if you take steps to protect yourself," she said.

"For example, among the virtual sex users interviewed, most provided video feed of themselves from the neck down. Some people used several different log-on IDs and some had subscribed to cellphone numbers specifically for their phone sex partners," the doctoral candidate said.

Because of the anonymity and sense of safety, "virtual sex can be seen as a kind of 'sex toy' that allows sexual stimulation or satisfaction in a controlled setting. It could rejuvenate a person's actual sex life, even for married people," Lin said.

But not everything is rosy in the world of virtual sex, the academics said.

"The lack of physical contact may leave virtual sex users feeling a sense of emptiness afterwards. Phone bills and internet equipment investments may also pile up," Fu said.