For many, there is a general fear or mistrust of technology, especially new and upcoming technology. For others, technology is interesting and exciting. And, for some, technology is a little more than just exciting—in fact, it is sexually exciting. Technosexuality is a sexual orientation accepted by some individuals whose sexual desires are associated with technology. Some technosexuals prefer technology to human sexual relations.
To clarify, we are not discussing an individual who has a high level of interest in the newest tech. It’s not a matter of needing the latest iPhone. Technosexuality is associated with a paraphilia for technology. The individual is not only attached to technology, but they are sexually aroused by or expresses themselves sexually through their technology. Technosexuality is not a sexual orientation with a narrow focus. There is an assortment of ways in which technosexuals express themselves sexually.
The Range of Technosexual Expression
It’s not just technosexuals—for many people, be it online porn or sexting, their sexuality is already situated in what Garlick (2011) refers to as “a technologically mediated reorganization of the social relations of sexuality” (223). Waskul (2015) embeds his definition of technosexuality in this reorganization of social relations. Technosexuality, according to Waskul “simply refers to the increasingly ubiquitous use of technology to gather sexual information, express sexual desires, view or expose sexual bodies, experience sexual pleasure, and explore sexual fantasies” (94). In speaking with individuals identifying as technosexuals, I highlight the range of this technological sexual expression:
- Technosexuality can be found in individuals who are sexually turned on by social media interaction. For instance, receiving “likes” on Facebook or retweets of their Twitter postings can bring about a sexual jolt in reaction to an increase of dopamine associated with online attention.
- Some technosexuals are very attached to their sex toys. In fact, they are so connected to their sex toys that they are unable to have sexual relations with a partner unless their electric devices are part of the sexual encounter. They are not aroused by purely somatic sexual relations.
- Human interaction may be important for some technosexuals, but they require that the interaction be online rather than face-to-face for stimulation. They may be aroused by a cam girl, but would not be sexually excited if that person were actually in the room with them. This type of technosexual is aroused through sexting, online avatar interaction, or message board discussions.
- Avatars that are idealized or fantastical selves may be created to shed the human flesh of some technosexuals in order to have virtual sexual encounters with others living through avatars. Online sites, such as Second Life, allow individuals to design their avatars, including offering choices of genitals and breasts from online stores, and to interact with others in a variety of virtual worlds. Special packages even allow users to choose from different sexual positions to act out with their avatars. Relationships, both emotional and sexual, exist in these online worlds. I have interviewed users that are only interested in this type of emotional and sexual relationship. It is an example of social interaction and self-construction that Foucault, in 1980, could not have imagined when discussing his notion of the technology of the self, wherein there are techniques that “permit individuals to affect, by their own means, a certain number of operations on their own bodies, their own souls, their own thoughts, their own conduct, and this in a manner so as to transform themselves, modify themselves, and to attain a certain state of perfection, happiness, purity, supernatural power. Let us call those kinds of techniques technologies of the self” (Foucault, 1993:203).
- As AI technology advances, the idea of forgoing human interaction feeds into a growing number of technosexual appetites. As detailed in a recent This Sexual Self article “The Age of Sex Robots,” sex robots are here and will continue to become more technologically advanced. This allows technosexuals to have a fully sexual relationship with a humanoid robot, even permitting a deeper relationship for those who have the ability to hold an emotional connection for the robot. In a 2020 Yougov survey, 22 percent of respondents claimed they would consider sex with a robot.
- Apart from a sex robot, some technosexuals don’t require the humanoid form to find their desire sparked. Several studies find that there are people who have sexual fantasies about their voice-activated assistants, such as Siri and Alexa. A Mindshare survey found this to be the case in 26 percent of their respondents, with 37 percent claiming to be in love with their assistant so much that they wished they were real. This dynamic has found its way into media culture with the lead character of the film "Her" being so sexually and romantically connected with a computer voice that human sexual interaction was unnerving and unnecessary. An episode of the popular television show, "The Big Bang Theory," had the character of Raj creating a relationship and sexually fantasizing about Siri.
Technosexuality: A Sexual Orientation
As with pansexuality, sapiosexuality, demisexuality, or asexuality, how people choose to identify themselves sexually should be removed from shame, question, or stigmatization; the same holds true for technosexuality. Yes, technosexuality is a real sexual orientation and there are individuals who identify themselves as technosexuals. It’s not a new sexual label, but as we advance technologically, and gadgets are progressively more integrated into our lives, more and more people are understanding and adopting the identifier. It is a sexual preference that partially or fully eliminates the complicated dynamics of human sexual relationships. For some, this is the appeal, beyond the appreciation for the technology.
The only cause for concern would be if their sexuality produces negative consequences in their lives or toward their well-being. We are, after all, social beings. If one’s sexual choices negatively impact their other social avenues, then the individual may wish to seek help. If not, and this is the free expression of their sexuality, enjoy.
Foucault, Michel. 1993. “About the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the Self: Two Lectures at Dartmouth” in Political Theory 21(2): 198-227.
Garlick, Steve. 2011. “A New Sexual Revolution” in Canadian Review of Sociology 48(3): 221-239.
Waskul, Dennis D. 2015. “Techno-sexuality: The Sexual Pragmatists of the Technological Age.” Pp. 89-107 in Selves, Symbols, and Sexualities: An Interactionist Anthology, edited by Thomas S. Weinberg and Staci Newmahr. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.