In recent years, technology has been at the forefronts of our minds and societies, becoming increasingly prominent and wide-spread. Advancements in the industry are consistently impressive and groundbreaking but often also met with backlash from critics and who fear too much technological dependence. Technology has become intertwined in nearly all aspects of our lives, and is most recently making its way into our bedrooms to impact our sex lives as well. As a result of this new intermingling of sex and technology, otherwise known as ‘sexnology’, sexual trends are being impacted in drastic ways, ranging from new sex toys to sexual abuse practices.
For some the most exciting and for others the most threatening, robotic sex toys are a recent development in the intertwining world of sexnology. Future of Sex, a podcast and company that reports on sexual behaviors, predicts big changes for sexnology in the coming years anticipating advancements such as virtual sex encounters, 3D-printed customizable vibrators and, most alarmingly, robotic sexual partners. Recently, a robot known as Kissenger was introduced as a means of transmitting kisses to loved ones long-distance. For some, this is seen as a harmless and fun way to be more intimate with a distant partner. But for others, major concerns are raised regarding safety and where to draw the line. Robotic sex toys are evidently a boundary pushing invention and as such are subject to raise a great deal of controversy.
2. Private Practice
A 2012 study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) observed participants with private and shared access to a computer to gain insight into how their tendencies varied. As you could expect, those with private access to a computer were more likely to engage in sexual activity on their computer, though those with shared access still participated but less frequently, proving that offline setting was influential to online engagement. Interestingly, the study concluded that not only were individuals using the Internet to watch pornography or engage in cyber sex, but many were also using it to become educated on sexual health issues and research precautionary measures. The Internet, therefore, can be seen as aiding in the continuity as well as safety of users’ sex lives.
3. The Future of Contraception
While there are many ways in which sex and technology interact to create content and mediums for sexual engagement, sexnology has health and contraceptive implications as well. Most notably, a company known as Microchips Biotech has put forth a proposal for a new form of contraceptive. Coined ‘the chip’ this invention would be implanted into an individual’s body and be controlled wirelessly, to be turned on and off as necessary. The chip would be similar to an arm implant that already exists as a form of birth control but would be unique in its potential for user control. According to NIH, 63% of females worldwide already use some sort of contraceptive, so this option would likely be intriguing to many users. Additionally, there is now talk of future endeavors into a version of the pill for men. If successfully tested and implemented, this would be the first form of contraception for men other than a condom.
4. Hidden Abuse
Unfortunately, not all of the new tendencies made possible through sexnology are new and exciting. All kinds of sexual assault, including domestic and child abuse, are evolving as a result of recent technological advancements. As technology is now an integral part of our everyday lives, it has become easier for sex offenders to use it as a means of conducting and concealing sexual abuse. For example, perpetrators can use technology to gain additional information about their victims, spread and share illegal photos, blackmail and threaten victims, and conduct sex trafficking, just to name a few. The implications of this situation are criminal and life-altering which begs the question, has technology gone too far?
Integrating technology into our lives has been controversial as it enters into each new realm, and its integration with sex is no different. Technology is both an exciting and innovative way to advance sex practices as well as a deceitful and criminal means to share and hide illegal sex practices. As with most technological advancements, it is a double edged sword. Nonetheless, it is one we should continue to be on the lookout for in the coming years as it may just have the potential to dramatically alter our lives.