Intro to Women's Studies 2010

etsu: 2011-2014

Virtual Gender/Judy Wajcman

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The idea that people can take on new gender roles via the Internet, is expressed in “Virtual Gender.” Wajcman states that, “Cyberspace provides a risk-free enironment where people can engage in the intimacy they both desire and fear.” The fact that you can not be seen means you could potentially create a new person, that you can be a new, different you. This can be true of online dating or even online chatting. She suggests that many more men adopt a female persona than vice versa.

Wajcman sites the example of a middle-aged male psychaitrist, who came up with a female alternate identity online. This new identity took the form of a hadicapped woman who gave advice through chatrooms to many women. When the “followers” found out that their heroine was merely just a cross-dressing man they felt betrayed. I find it a little unnerving that people could take their fantasies this far. In essence, though, this could be happening all the time without anyone knowing. Nevertheless, the Internet is a way for a person to be just about anyone they want to be, regardless of “what’s down under”.

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