Blog Post 7: Futures

Hi all,

Hope you’ve been having a good weekend so far – here’s a thread for posting about our reading for Monday, Emily Witt’s chapters on “Internet Dating” and “Live Webcams” from her book Future Sex. As with many of our texts in this section of the course, Witt’s writing asks us to think about how bodily and sexual behaviors might change as a result of digital technology, and thus about what issues and questions those changes might raise.

But Witt’s writing is different in form from most of what we’ve studied so far. Rather than a strictly scholarly text, hers combines personal narrative, social history, and other modes in order to engage the issues she’s engaging—this means we have to read and engage her work with a different eye.

So for this blog post, you should work on getting a handle on what Witt is actually saying through this mix of approaches: what is her argument, and what specific issues around the question of digital bodies and sexuality is she addressing in that argument? What seems important about that? As in our previous posts, you should try to address these questions through quotation and close analysis of a specific passage in her writing: introduce that passage, quote and analyze it, and do some writing to explain how you see it fitting into the larger thinking she’s doing—what makes your chosen passage not just interesting to you, but a key part of her larger argument?

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 11:59pm on Sunday, October 21st. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

12 thoughts on “Blog Post 7: Futures

  1. Emily Witt explores many topics that many would not dare talk about in chapters on “Internet Dating” and “Live Webcams” from her book called “Future Sex”. In her chapter on “Internet Dating” she talks about her personal experience with the internet dating service OkCupid and then explore more in depth the history of online dating. The argument she makes in this chapter is that when internet dating was created people were not told what to do with this power. Therefore, there is generally a thin line at first for if a person just wants to have sexual relations or if they want to be in a committed relationship. In the chapter on “Live Webcams” she explains topics of traditional sex, the male desire, and internet sex. One topic she covers that I thought was particularly interesting was how people seem more comfortable online. This raises the question of if people online are seen as much of a real person in comparison to a person in physical form. Emily greatly explores the issue of traditional sex and uses max and harper’s webcam relationship as an example of how sex as an idea can be different for different people. “As Max and Harper went deeper into their online sexual exploration, they learned that sex was no longer a thing either of them could define.” (132). This shows the evolution of sex as an idea which is mostly a result of the internet which allows the sharing of experiences with others. This quotation is explaining that sex should not be put in a box as much as it is right now. In my opinion, this could become a problematic idea at this point in time and I just can’t see a way to easily change this traditional view from many people’s minds.


  2. Although dating sites and video streaming allowed people to gain control of their love life and foster new relationships, these sites only presented these opportunities but did not teach people to develop these new types of relationships.
    There is a double standard for men and women. The theory is that more partners men have is a positive accomplishment while the more partners a woman has is seen as unappealing. When Witt described the logic behind OkCupid, she highlighted the idea that women were embarrassed and uncomfortable to openly talk about their intention of looking for casual sex or intention of a relationship through an online dating site. Not having to sign up meant that they could say, “Oh, I just met a boyfriend on OkCupid. I didn’t even sign up for dating!” (25). This ability to look for dates or casual sex online without signing up and possibly embarrassing oneself gave women the opportunity to take control of their lives, find a hook up or a date, and avoid the stigma surrounding it. Another way to avoid this stigma and embarrassment is online video: “You can be whoever you want to be. You can show them any part of yourself that you want. You can be totally open and bare and share everything without having to worry about people rejecting you” (126). This statement made by a friend of the author, illustrates the impact online video has on women and people in general. This idea that you can meet people and show different parts of yourself without fear of failing and then seeing that person again. Women are not usually the one to ask out a guy or make the first move. The online video gives them the opportunity to practice and try this without much backlash. For men it also gives them the opportunity to practice.
    When Witt states, “I found the algorithms put me in the same area—social class and level of education—as the people I went on a date with, but otherwise did very little to predict whom I would like” (18), she demonstrates that although she was able to find more people and have the opportunity to develop new relationships with them, the algorithm in these dating sites stopped there. The computer program was unable to understand the type of people she would connect with, nor did it give her the tools to learn to connect with different people. Emphasizing, “the technology itself promised nothing. It brought us people, but it did not tell us what to do with them” (37), Witt truly affirms the idea that these online modes of meeting people cannot teach people to foster and develop relationships.
    Using online resources gives people the opportunity to meet people, but after that these online resources do little to teach people or aid people in developing relationships.


  3. Emily Witt’s writing touching base with the hard truths of sexual human interaction and the internet. Before the digital age, dating/ courtship would exist through word of mouth or one to one action. You could be set up on a date by a friend or even have direct contact with said attractive individual. After the internet could be used for creating interactions between people, the way we understand dating as we know it has changed. Emily Witt explains the different cultural groups that exist and how apps/websites are made in order to appeal to the groups behaviors and what they would look for from a partner. From casual sex to tennis partners, there is an adaptation online as well. While most people believe finding a long-term relationship, Emily Witt proves that just because it is the internet, it does not mean that the interaction is not just as valid as in person. Emily Witt says “Still I avoided any mention of sex in my profile. I also avoided all men who led with the explicitly sexual overtures. My avoidance of any overt reference to sex meant that Internet dating was like standing in a room full of people recommending restaurants to one another without describing the food. No, it was worse than that…The right to avoid the subject of sex was structurally embedded in the most popular dating sites. They had been designed that way, because otherwise women would not have used them.”. Sharing her own personal experience makes it clear that sex is not the only thing being sought out and more importantly these dating sites make sure sex isn’t as the forefront. Women usually want more than sex when it comes to human interaction, so dating sites make sure they are the most favorable by taking into accounts the needs of multiple groups; one group being taken into account here is women. This makes human interaction much more special and powerful because of the choices available to said person. People sell themselves in hopes of getting picked due to similar interests and whatnot and that eliminates the hopeless feeling of just not being able to find anyone. While there are many issues with online dating such as people being fluid with their digital identities and the confidence from not being face to face with someone can definitely alter the first interactions and therefore bring forth people who may not be the right fit. As Witt states, the internet “brings us people, but it did not tell us what to do with them.”, so while we may have a plethora to choose from, finding the right one is still full of difficulty.


  4. In Emily Witt’s chapter titled “Internet Dating”, she uses personal experience to display the different perspectives of sexual interaction in human interaction and internet interaction. Witt mentions different scenarios she has experienced, a sexual interaction over the internet with another person is very different than meeting someone in person. Witt claims that “I avoided any mention of sex in my profile.” Witt also explains how “each dating technology looking to attract an equal number of women and men, no matter the business strategy, had to ensure that a woman could join the site without having any sexual declaration”. I think that this is very important and is a very controversial part when people use dating apps and websites because this becomes a gender issue in which that women do not have the option of just being on the app or website just to either meet new people and/or build a non-sexual relationship. With internet hookups and dating, it is always difficult more for the female in the relationship compared to the male because they are more targeted to be negatively labeled where for men, it is not as common. Even when people do start a dating by meeting over on a dating app, many are very either uncomfortable or weirded out because apps such as Tinder or Bumble are typically used for people to meet others just for sexual interaction. Witt later mentions the idea of “the committed monogamous relationship” and how basically society has created this limited atmosphere where in sexual interactions, women are defined to objectify and degrade themselves because of the number of people they either get with, which brings up the never ending issue that men won’t need to be commented from society.


  5. In Emily Witt’s chapter of Future Sex, titled “Internet Dating”, she analyzes her own experiences with female sexuality and its existence in the digital realm. One part that I found a profound connection to was in her mention of passiveness, and the gender politics behind it. She writes, “Still I avoided any mention of sex in my profile. I also avoided all men who led with explicitly sexual overtures. My avoidance of any overt reference to sex meant that Internet dating was like standing in a room full of people recommending restaurants to one another without describing the food…..The right to avoid the subject of sex was structurally embedded in the most popular dating sites. They had been designed that way, because otherwise women would not have used them” (21). These lines were slightly uncomfortable to digest because Witt is revealing a greater truth about sexuality, a truth that goes beyond the internet. Witt is claiming that internet dating sites and apps were created to avoid overt sexuality so that women would be comfortable. This promotes the notion that women are not, and should not be forward in their sexual behaviors. But why would anyone think that? I guess It is just so ingrained into our culture and the way that we understand sexual interactions, and it is only “right” that the internet mimics those things.


  6. Emily Witt offers a first hand experience of the reality of internet dating. She describes her real experiences in terms of dates she has been on, and the intentions of both parties. An interesting topic she discusses is the issue of sex. With sex being a driving factor for most people looking to go on online dates, Witt describes what it is like not having that be the focus. She makes it seem as though sex was an afterthought for both parties, like it would be too much work, stating that “I felt that it was usually clear, to both parties , that while we could have had sex it would have been more out of resignation and duty than real desire.” This covers the idea that without any emotional connection, sex just isn’t that appealing. And with very little emotional connection ever felt on an online date, the internet is not an appealing source for sex. Witt goes on to say that she would rather go home alone than to fake the energy needed. This need to use dating sites for sex is a predominantly male action. Witt talks about how the creator of hired women to help appeal their site to more women. The first steps taken were to lessen the emphasis on sex, and focused more on real relationships and connections. The lopsided view on the new wave of dating will be interesting for future developments. If males are more focused on sex, the advancements of technology in relationships will have to adapt to cater to this. Sex bot manufacturers, for instance will need to consider this, and online dating services, as Witt argues will continue to adapt their philosophies.


  7. Online dating has, and continues to become increasingly popular and common among digitally mediated communities. With this, questions around sex philosophy, disposal of bodies and gender imbalances surge as more people become involved and engage with these digital networks. In Future Sex, author Emely Witt engages with some of these underlying themes, thus exploring the characteristics and outcomes of online dating through a series of memoirs. In her writing, she compares the views and expectations around sex in different online dating networks using gender as a source of differentiation. In other words, according to Witt, online dating networks have been made in such a way that it can captivate both male and female users. Such has been based on how each party approaches sex and within the context of online dating. Men tend to be looked at as more carnal-sex directed, as for women sex seems to drive them away when it comes to online dating. Taking such into account, many online dating networks as Match and Tinder have barred sexual/pornographic content from their interface so that women feel more comfortable to use these apps for dating. Men are held under the assumption that demand is readily available. The absence of sexual interaction does not seem to make their participation dissipate because of an embedded attractive factor (women). At a deeper level, Witt alludes to the importance of understanding the behavior and sequence of thought of each party within these contexts. Witt writes: “I saw that it was taken for granted, or asserted by books of biological determinism such as Louann Brizendine’s The Female Brain, that the monogamous relationship made women the most happy, was where they most enjoyed sex, and that this sort of commitment brought women both freedom and security. This line of thinking forced me into a gendered that I resented. If every expression of free sexuality by a woman would be second-guessed, it left men as the sole rational agents of sexual narrative.” In agreement with Witt, for many females, the preliminary distaste for sex in online dating and in general often comes from a deliberate process of social condition suppressing sexual revindication, sexual freedom and claiming pleasure. Women have been made to have an almost secretive relationship with sex, reverting from claiming it publicly. With these, as Witt refers, most women turn away when sexual intention is apparent or clear on a guy’s online profile. They are thought to want sex within a specific framework and context. An avenue for procreation and an activity that is to be held within a secured relationship or marriage. Women that act oppositely to this philosophy, are looked at as ‘easy’, ‘desperate’, ‘self-objectified’ or worse. Online dating apps tend to refer to these social conceptions and create user-interface that follows these societal perceptions. Such practices can often help endure dangerous perceptions of woman sexuality and favor the limiting idea of female celibacy. Women may fail to claim their sexual right and enjoy the outcomes that come with online dating in this digitally facilitated world. Apart from questions around the morality and effects of casual sex resulting from online dating, in a fair and ideal society, women and men should be able to exercise their sexual potential without any judgment of gender-segregating attempts aimed at restricting their scope of individual freedom.


  8. Both chapters, “Internet Dating” and “Live Webcams” discuss the issues and the mechanics of dating applications and hook up platforms in the digital world and how they transformed and developed over time. The author, Emily Witt, illustrates how people started using these platforms with vague intentions, specially between women and men. As the author talks about the application called “Grindr”, she mentions that the founder “Joel Simkhai, said that the app was more about accessing a social community than it was about finding sex” (27). This shows how people started joining these applications in search for a date or a long-term relationship or just a hook up. Nevertheless, the author focuses on how there are stigmas associated with it and how it was harder for woman to express their sexuality than men. Joel Simkhai contradicts the author since she describes how it was hard for her and other women to describe their sexual behaviors in society. As she mentions, “My timidity not only concerned ideas of sexual safety (especially since most such ideas were ruses that gave women a false sense of control in an unpredictably violent world). My avoidance of sex also had a lot to do with an equation, a relationship of exchange around which I organized my ideas. I saw sex as a lever that moderated climatic conditions within the chamber of life, with a negative correlation between the number of people I slept with and the likelihood of encountering love” (30). Here, she shows how vague and unmeaningful sex is without an emotional connection. The more sex she had with random people, the less likely she could or was able to fall in love with someone. This brings us back to the discussion of sexbots and the issues raised with it.

    At the end of the day if people knew their intentions and knew how to communicate them, then these applications need to make better spaces for people to deliver their thoughts and feelings more deliberately.


  9. After reading Emily Witt’s essay regarding various aspects of new age dating, the quote that stuck out to me was when she said “The body, … was not a secondary entity. The mind contained very few truths that the body withheld. There was little of import in an encounter between the bodies that would fail to be revealed rather quickly… Until bodies were introduced, seduction was only provisional. I began responding to people with very short profiles, then began forgoing the profiles altogether, using them only to see that people on OkCupid Locals knew how to spell and didn’t have rabidly right-wing politics.” In this quote Witt is describing how on dating sites people create identities to attract others, that isn’t necessarily who they actually are. She also discusses how any false identities, or notions, that are created with the purpose of attracting another can do a great job initially, but after an individual has actually come into contact with the potential spouse physically, these false notions can be erased quickly. This ultimately leads to programs, like OkCupid, to become obsolete because, just as Witt did, users begin to realize that the profiles mean nothing, and gradually stop looking at profiles on the online service. Eventually, users begin to look at profiles only with the purpose of finding a date for the night rather than finding a potential they could actually connect with changing these online dating sites, to online hook-up sites. Overall Witt is saying that digital bodies are basically meaningless because they are only created with the purpose of attracting someone else rather than depicting who the user actually is. As for sexuality, Witt says that “ Until bodies were introduced, seduction was only provisional.”, this quote means that without actual physical interaction, there is no true sexual attraction nor connection, but instead an often falsified feeling of attraction created by the false representation of users by their digital bodies.


  10. Internet dating sites have revolutionized the way in which individuals can meet people around them. Whether in search for a committed relationship or simply casual sex, people can browse through romantic prospects in their area. The implications of this new medium for romantic pursuit are discussed in Emily Witt’s book, Future Sex. Through an in-depth personal narrative of her own experiences, along with a close examination of the history of online dating, Witt highlights the fact that while these sites provide vast opportunities, it is in the hands of the user to decide how they interact with such opportunities. Witt declares this idea while concluding her chapter, stating that, “internet dating had evolved to present the world around us, the people in our immediate vicinity, and to fulfill the desires of a particular moment. At no point did it offer guidance in what to do with such a vast array of possibility… It brought us people, but it did not tell us what to do with them” (37). Here, Witt begins by analyzing the role of internet dating in people’s lives. According to Witt, internet dating can help feed our romantic cravings by revealing the people in our area. She muses that while the possibilities provided by internet dating are clearly evident, we are at our own will to choose the way in which we approach these possibilities. Although this point may appear obvious to some, it is an important distinction to be made. This distinction is essential in understanding the countless potential approaches to internet dating. She discusses some of these approaches earlier in the text and even mentions how these approaches differ across gender. This diversity in usage is what makes online dating such a complex, unique medium of interaction. This complexity is seen in a user’s ability to utilize internet dating for something as innocent as finding a golf partner, to something as risqué as pursuing an eccentric sexual fantasy. Without the freedom to navigate the way in which we interact with people presented by online dating sites, this complexity fails to exist.


  11. In “Future Sex” Emily Witt explores the repercussions of reinforced gender roles in dating sites. The introduction of dating/hookup platforms such as grindr, tinder, and OKcupid has yielded a new attitude towards dating in which one can either feel enhanced freedom or increased pressure to perform. The manner in which one acts and is expected to act is highly contingent upon gender and sexuality.

    By recounting the methodology of one of the most prevalent dating sites of the present-day,, Witt highlights how men and straight women have significantly different approaches to what they consider to be morally-correct dating. Witt tells us that, when creating the dating site, marketer found that “women were more likely to use the site if it emphasized traditional dating rituals and presented sex as a secondary question” (23). In other words, women feel either uncomfortable or ashamed in admitting their desire for sex in a romantic partner. Although sex is an assumed conclusion for both man and woman, the female is conditioned to associate sex with a deep, romantic connection, while the male is not (or significantly less so). In this vein, women are conditioned to feel as if we must become attached to and therefore dependent on a man in order to receive sexual gratification. Men, on the other hand, are encouraged to believe that sex is sex, plain and simple. This discrepancy between male and female manifestations of sexuality is only reinforced on dating sites.

    Witt includes a statistic which reveals that gay women made up the largest percentage of people on OKcupid that were looking for casual sex (25). While she does not’ directly comment on this data, she follows-up with a discussion about gay men and grindr. The dating paradigm for gay men (as understood through grindr) contradicts that of straight couples. The former leads with sex, which may lead to a connection, then a relationship, and the ladder leads with a connection, then sex, then a relationship. In both cases the outcome is the same (a relationship), but the way in which the emotional connection and ultimately the relationship are achieved are opposite. This difference in dating paradigms parallels the discrepancy between the expected sexual dynamic of a straight couple and that of a gay couple.


  12. While reading the essay by Emily Witt, I automatically knew that the following quote was something. wanted to introduce. She states: “The body, I started to learn, was not a secondary entity. The mind contained very few truths that the body withheld. There was little of import in an encounter between the bodies that would fail to be revealed rather quickly.” “Until bodies were introduced, seduction was only provisional. I began responding to people with very short profiles, then began forgoing the profiles altogether, using them only to see that people on OkCupid Locals knew how to spell and didn’t have rabidly right-wing politics.” Here she is trying to convey the very temporary nature of internet dating. internet dating provided a past time for the night rather than something for the future which is what the narrator wanted. she explains that sex was merely an activity for a moment that with the introduction of the body and mind it can be something more. Then she goes on to say that she begins to stop looking at profiles because they are misleading which is another fault to internet dating. Her larger argument seems to say that internet dating is a tool that conveys the human body and the digital one in two different ways. This quote shows that because it goes into detail about how people tend to look for one another through that digital body but the physical attraction doesn’t seem to be configured through the idea of internet dating as she states” It brought us people, but it didn’t tell us what to do with them” implying that the human body and digital one must connect for internet dating to be successful.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s