TL;DR: In her groundbreaking article “Wikisexuality: Rethinking Sexuality in Cyberspace, ” Dr. L. Ayu Saraswati explores the connection between sexuality and the Internet like never before.
L. Ayu Saraswati has been interested in the topic of sexuality for her entire life — literally.
While growing up in the Indonesia, she saw firsthand how people think differently about sexuality and gender and always wanted to know why.
As an associate professor at the University of Hawaii’s Women’s Studies Department, Saraswati strives to answer that question to this day, particularly in her most recent article “Wikisexuality: Rethinking Sexuality in Cyberspace.”
With a focus on new media, “Wikisexuality” delves deeper into how people explore and express their sexuality online.
“I cover those two things we don’t know about: sexuality and cyberspace,” Saraswati said. “What does it mean to articulate our sexuality online?”
What is “wikisexuality”?
Heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, asexual — with so many concrete categories of sexual orientation out there, what do you do if you don’t fit into any of those boxes?
What do you call yourself if you only have sex with men offline but only have cybersex with women? What do you call yourself if you’re committed to a woman but enjoy watching gay male porn?
That’s where wikisexuality comes in. Just like Wikipedia means the website can be edited and changed by different users, so can one’s sexuality.
“Let’s come up with a new label, a new category of sexuality that is more fluid, that is not about us making this commitment to ‘the one’, the one sexuality or the one partner,” Saraswati said. “For those who need a category of sexuality, then it’s there for them.”
Saraswati evaluates this concept in different ways throughout her article, but her constant goal is to create a dialogue, spark curiosity and make people think.
Is sexuality predetermined like so many people think, or is it about getting to know the person you’re with and seeing where that takes you? Wikisexuality can help you answer that for yourself.
“Wikisexuality is about exploring and knowing that process can take place,” she said.
Going beyond wikisexuality
While “Wikisexuality” has done extremely well in the academic field, Saraswati has bigger fish to fry in the form of societal change, and with more books on the way, that shouldn’t be too hard.
Ultimately she hopes to help people better understand what sexuality means to them so they can feel comfortable accepting who they are.
“I think wikisexuality is something that allows us to move beyond this idea of having to decide what our sexuality is,” she said. “The kind of impact I hope it has is that people can relax about their identity at the personal level.”
You can read more of Dr. L. Ayu Saraswati’s work at www.womenstudies.hawaii.edu.