Online Performances Gender Blogs Gender Bending and Cyber Sex as Relational Exemplors

Computer-mediated-communication (CMC) scholarship examines how partners employ online communication to create and maintain relationships. In addition to other concerns, CMC research examines the Internet as a gendered space. Such an interpretation of the Internet suggests that the medium itself might play a role in the construction of online gender identities as well as provide a social context for gender construction in the enactment of online relationships.

 

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Current theorizing distinguishes gender as a social construct (Wood, 2009). Given that the Internet has been identified as a tool that shapes social reality, a viable relationship between the two constructs appears reasonable. Researchers argue that the relationship between the Internet and gender is fairly complex as the technology of the medium itself is gendered (Bailey & Telford, 2007), but it provides a new space for gender to be performed.

 

A Gendered Medium. From a historical and cultural perspective, the use of technology has been predominantly male-governed; socialization of women for domestic work limited their need for technical expertise. As recently as 2000, in a sample of 185 users from 84 U.S. families, men reported spending almost twice as many hours per week online at home as women. Because of these inequities, technological advancements can be viewed as masculine tools of power. Despite steps to increase equity, men continue to dominate in specialized fields of technology such as software design—making the Internet a male-occupied space. Liberal feminists argued that because of female exclusion, technology reflects a patri ← 302 | 303 → archal hierarchy that produces tools of oppression detrimental to women.

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