By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
This problem is compounded when a sex surfer has strong religious beliefs or intense guilt about extramarital desires. ”There probably are some weaknesses in the relationship,“ says Steve Watters of Pure Intimacy, a Christian counseling service, ”and they‘re looking for something that delivers sexual fulfillment without the same level of investment.“ The Internet makes this search much easier on the superego than renting an XXX video. Watters says about one-fifth of Internet-porn addicts weren’t hooked on smut before they went online. ”They didn‘t do more than sneak a peek at a cable show at night, and now they realize that their curiosity is out of control and they can’t look at their wife the same way.“
What we have here is a new incarnation of an age-old problem: marriage bed-death.
Desire is a risky business. And so is a medium that makes it easier to express what society would rather see repressed. It‘s fair to say, as Deb Levine does, that cybering can ”awaken and renew desires.“ But it’s also valid to note, as Watters does, that it can ”lead people to pursue all their sexual curiosities to the deficit of real relationships.“
Ambiguity is the hardest thing for Americans to tolerate. Ours is a culture that prefers to see complex issues in tones of black and white. Safety is another word for repression.
”Would you want to provide people with an outlet to express these degrading acts, or would you point them away?“ asks Mark Laaser of the Christian Alliance for Sexual Recovery, who testified before Congress last month, urging that libraries be forced to put filters on their computers. He‘d also like to see sex sites taxed, with the money used for ”education.“
Clearly the right has much to gain from this new addiction. But will the cybering legions stand up for their desires? Seems unlikely, given the secrecy and shame that surround this activity. There haven’t been any million porn-fan marches. It‘s the courts that have protected such liberties, and they -- as we know -- are subject to change. Watters is pessimistic about George W. Bush’s commitment to cleaning up the Internet. ”He‘s playing to Silicon Valley,“ this counselor quips. But Watters is still hopeful that Bush will appoint ”an activist attorney general, someone who will go off on his own.“
Until then, Watters is willing to settle for treating ”the demand side.“ He runs cybersex-addiction workshops for free. So does Laaser -- at $1,000 a shot.