I loved cybersex. It was one of my favourite teenage hobbies. I went into chat rooms and found people to have fun with. It was my choice, and I enjoyed pleasuring myself.
I developed a relationship with this one boy and we would send each other long emails about what we would do to each other if we were there. The fantasies were elaborate. I used to print some of the emails and read them in bed. I forgot a letter under my pillow and my mother found it when she washed my sheets.
She didn’t ask me about it. She threw it out, called our internet provider and cancelled our subscription. A day later, the dial-up stopped working. I asked my Mom about it and she told me, “it’s gone”. She cancelled it because of the disgusting things the men online were “making me do”.
I was outraged. I was so mad because I had also found many friends online; they understood me. I could share things with strangers that were hard to share with the people I knew in person. Online, my depression could exist without shame or fear. All of a sudden, I was alone. Unable to reach my friends and shamed for doing something that I initiated and enjoyed.
I was furious at the assumption that women can’t have sexual desires, that my mother thought the men had to be forcing me to do this. And her not asking me about it made it worse. It made me feel like she didn’t trust me or believe that my thoughts and opinion were valid. I knew I could take care of myself. She assumed she was right simply because she was an adult. No debate, no questions.
I cried for days. I cried until I gave myself migraines.
It didn’t take long for me to find a way to get back online. I borrowed someone’s dial-up info and went online when my parents weren’t home or used the library computers for $1/hour. Parents don’t always know best. Kids have a reason for doing what they are doing. Never assume. It can be scary to realize your child is all grown up and loves to fantasize about sex, but it’s also normal. Don’t make it shameful. Encourage them to do it safely and give them the right information.
An evening a few years later—when I had the internet at home again—I was drunk and looking to have fun. A guy I knew asked me to take off my shirt for him. I did and he recorded our video chat without my knowledge. Later, he tried to blackmail me with it. He sent it to my friends to show them I was a “whore”. They were alarmed and told me that this guy was trying to send a video of me topless. They told me they hadn’t watched it—I can’t be sure—and they said they thought I would never do such a thing. The video part makes me the saddest. On the one side, for being blackmailed, but mostly because this single video could have had awful ramifications if it fell into the wrong hands. I was lucky to have friends on my side (whether they watched the video or not).
Our society doesn’t accept women who are seeking pleasure and they are quick to point fingers at “sluts” and “whores”. They shun them so fast, it’s scary. Women should never be shamed or discredited for expressing their sexuality. Their own body shouldn’t be a weapon with the power to be used against them. Today, I’m not ashamed of my cybersex days, but the sixteen-year-old me was haunted by that video; afraid it was lurking out there.
I made great friends online. They have taught me so much about being a great human and helped me get through some tough times. I’m still in touch with one of them today. He and I met in person when I went to University and he’s an awesome person.
The internet is like the real world. Yes, there are jerks online, and their bad character traits are magnified by their anonymity, but there are also wonderful people in Virtual Land. I’m happy with everything I have experienced online. It has shaped how comfortable I am with my body today.