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Getting Off Online: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Cyberspace


Understanding the social construction of gender and gender performance within online communities is imperative for social science researchers as the coming decades become increasingly more technological and the cyber age more expansive. The aim of this study is to analyze how race/ethnicity influences gender performance among men who have sex with men (MSM) on and offline. One of the unique aspects of this study is the examination of race, gender, and sexuality online and how it affects the lives of gay men of color, a group studied comparatively less then gay white men. The data is based on content analysis on internet websites and 16 in-depth interviews with men who have sex with men representing various racial/ethnic groups (African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Mixed-race, and White-Americans). Results from the in-depth interviews revealed the prevalence of sexual racism online and the ways in which it affected how the participants identified online in terms of gender performance and racial and sexual stereotypes. Specifically, many of the participants found ways in which to navigate the sexual marketplace of desire online via the creation of their profiles and allowing the profiles to either play on sexual racialized performance pertinent to their race or manipulate their profiles so that they increased potential mates.


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Correspondence to Jesus Smith .

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© 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

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Smith, J. (2014). Getting Off Online: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Cyberspace. In: Farris, D., Davis, M., Compton, D. (eds) Illuminating How Identities, Stereotypes and Inequalities Matter through Gender Studies. Springer, Dordrecht.

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