As with nearly every other medical or psychological concern, women are vastly understudied compared to men.
The subject of sex addiction and cybersex addiction in women, in particular, has a long way to go, but there are reports that: The brain’s reward center produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and motivation.
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Five years in, after a lot of messy mistakes, she put the bottle down. In the moment, these dalliances make her feel alive and desired, young again and sexy. By now, we’ve all become aware that Internet pornography is accessible anytime, anywhere—provided you have a machine to capture it, however tiny, and Internet access, however reliable.
Porn is no longer that hidden stack of magazines in the back of your dad’s closet, or those couple of VHS tapes your brother and his friends pass around.
Yukari is a 48-year-old mother and wife with everything to lose. In the past, she worked really hard; she was a perfect wife and mom.
She needs to be present for her daughter’s graduation and her son’s autism therapy appointments. Then her father passed—they had a difficult relationship—and Yukari started drinking. Each night she goes to bed promising herself she won’t do it anymore, but each morning arrives and Yukari can’t resist the urge to check her throwaway email account. She’s already met five men and done things a younger Yukari never would have.
Cybersex addiction often comes with shame, regardless of age or gender.
Women who have a problem with compulsive cybersex or pornography addiction may feel even greater shame due to cultural messages about women and how they “should” behave.
The book, The Joy of Cybersex, argued that the World Wide Web was a godsend for this reason. Say: ‘Sure, honey, but I’d actually rather be a rocket scientist, okay? Think about it for a few minutes, fix yourself a drink, and succumb to the unknown.
The author of The Joy of Cybersex, Deborah Levine, had spent several years counseling college undergraduates at the Columbia University Health Education program. Like earlier safe-sex activists, Levine used bullet-point lists to introduce the sites her readers should know and to teach them the language that they would need to thrive on them.
Levine encouraged them to use their computers to flirt, start online relationships, and explore their farthest-fetched fantasies without taking real-world risk. The pages she cited ran the gamut from tutorials for geeks, like to resources for free lovers like the Open Hearts Project and
“The driving source behind sex in the 1990s, whether you’re partnered or single, is the human imagination,” Levine declared. The place where imaginations go wild, anonymity is the rule, and desire runs amok.” Like earlier safe-sex educators, Levine used multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questionnaires to help readers take stock of what they wanted. The chapter “Overcoming Sexual Inhibitions,” for instance, started with a quiz intended to help you assess how uptight you are. If your best friend started unexpectedly talking about his or her sex life over coffee one day, you would:a. A service called Tri Ess connected heterosexual couples who were into cross-dressing.
She placed more emphasis on expanding your horizons than on safety. The chat abbreviations that Levine lists — like ASAP and LOL — now seem so obvious that it is hard to remember that they once needed defining. Decent webcam technology and the bandwidth needed to transmit high-quality images were still a few years off.