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On the internet, gender is a strange thing. You can be whoever you wantwhich pretty much just means you never know who the heck anybody is. Add cybersex to the mix, and things turn even more confusing. Ever get the sneaking feeling that the self-proclaimed twenty-five-year-old blond whos spent the last five minutes describing her enormous tits might not be a girl at all? Or that the sexy, slim brunette who seems profoundly confused by female anatomyand the spelling of her own body partsmight actually be busy jerking off on the other end of the screen?
If these are the sorts of worries that keep you from logging into IRC, youre not alone. At least once a week I hear an anxious cyberer lament something along these lines (taken from a recent reader e-mail):
Ive been cybering for a long time, but I don't really cyber as much as I used to. These days, I like to get to know someone better and have some time to talk to them through webcam and voice chat before we cyber. Thats because Ive been lied to by too many guys. I want to cyber/cam with women. That can be very tough. Guys are fine, and there's nothing wrong with that. But Im not bi: I only want women. And there are a lot of guys out there who pretend to be women. So I have gotten selective.
Theres an unspoken question here. Without a webcam or voice chat, how can I tell for sure whether Im cybering with a man or a woman?
The short answer: you cant. In chat rooms and virtual worlds, people switch their genders all the time. Statistics show that half of the female characters you meet in online games are actually men. In Second Life the male-to-female ratio is slightly more even, but still. The odds are against you.
Why do people switch genders online? Sometimes its for fun. Sometimes its to get free stuff (lots of online gamers claim that women characters receive more presents from other players). Sometimes its to get off. But the reason doesnt really matter. The fact is, getting it on with someone who turns out to be different than what you expected is a fact of internet life. Ive explained before how I once had a long standing thing with a hot, young surfer who turned out to be a pot-bellied father of three. It happens to the best of us.
With that said, if its really important to you that the person on the other end of the screen is 100% certified, grade-A choice female, there are a couple of clues (i.e. generalizations) in a chat environment you can look for.
So youre talking with this girl. First, keep an eye on her language. Pay attention to how she speaks, not what shes saying. (Great relationship advice, right?) Does she use full sentences? Does she pay attention to spelling and grammar? No ones perfect when they type online, but women are usually a lot more careful. You can also look for feminine hiccups, like smiley faces and lols. Then again, if I were trying to imitate a girl on the internet, Id probably use a lot of those things, too. Of course, some guys don't even try.
If you cant tell by her language, sometimes the sex itself gives something away. Does she jump right in? Does she want foreplay and long, sexy descriptions, or are twenty lines of Oh yeah, Im fucking you so hard enough to do her good? Men want instant gratification, women want build-up: its a stereotype, but sometimes its true. If all else fails, there are always more obvious clues, like her personal profile. Of course, it would take a pretty sloppy cyberer to leave up male, 34 when shes presenting female, 25. Worst comes to worst, you could always ask her: Are you also a woman in real life? Sure, she might be offended. Sure, she might lie. But if she says no, at least you havent wasted your time.
More important though is to ask yourself: does it really matter? So what if youre talking to a man, not a woman? For straight men, theres the fact that youre, well, straight. But you're not having sex with the person behind the screen, you're having sex with an online persona. When you boil it down, all cybersex is one big mutual fantasy. Some of the best online sex Ive ever had was with an American GI--a real mans man--pretending to be a female submissive. Its about imagination. So if youre having a good time, you might as well just kick back and enjoy iteven if it means blocking out thoughts of the-penis-that-could-be, thousands of miles away.
Click Me runs weekly. Contact cybersex columnist Bonnie Ruberg at bonnie[at]heroine-sheik[dot]com.