Erotic desires and practices in cyberspace: "virtual reality" of the non-heterosexual middle class in Bangladesh
Publisher© 2014 Asian Institute of Technology
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CitationKarim, S. (2014). Erotic desires and practices in cyberspace: "virtual reality" of the non-heterosexual middle class in bangladesh. Gender, Technology and Development, 18(1), 53-76. doi:10.1177/0971852413515326
Sexually diverse and marginalized groups are constantly challenged to create spaces for realizing their sexual fantasies, desires and politics within the all-pervasiveness of heterosexual spaces. Technology has brought about the possibility of creating spaces that are simultaneously private and public. In the context of Bangladesh, technology, specifically in the form of computers, mobile phones, and the internet, is rapidly gaining accessibility and popularity, resulting in opportunities for many to link up with local, regional, and global communities. Cyberspace is being used both by individuals and groups to set up communities, and go beyond the realization of personal erotic desires, to take up sexual politics and activism. Taking sexuality, gender, class and space as its central concepts, this article looks into ways in which cyberspace and technology affect the cultural and political dimensions of sexualities, identities, and sexual rights activism in the contemporary urban Bangladesh. The study focuses on non-normative homosexual groups and individuals using the internet. Using qualitative research methods, it looks into non-normative sexualities as expressed, practiced and organized through two Bangladesh-based same-sex online networks and groups: one online gay group and one online lesbian group in the year 2009. Findings from this study show how within cyberspace, the public and private overlap, intertwine, and make erotic desires and identities deeply unstable, permeable, inexact, and ambiguous. The sexual spatiality of public spaces, especially the relatively new arena of the virtual world, shows the contradictions of conformity and resistance to heteronormativity present in contemporary lives. Gender, class, and age are significant factors in creating hierarchies, discriminations and exclusionary spaces that are new but influential, especially in sexual politics.