Masthead CMC Magazine / March 1, 1996
 Gender Without Bodies, by Mindy McAdams

Maybe hiding my gender online would be a good idea.

Since my body does not tag along on my daily forays into cyberspace, it would be relatively easy to obscure my real-life gender in my online life. People who know me in real life would know my gender, of course, and might sometimes refer to me with the feminine pronoun, but I could have chosen to be M. J. McAdams online, and most people who see my Web pages or read my posts on listservs would be none the wiser.

Online, people assume various identities. Women pose as men, men pose as women. Children try on adulthood. Adults try on sexual personae they would never attempt with their bodies. The reality of these roles (as described by mocha jean herrup in her essay "Virtual Identity") may be temporary, confined to the nonspace of virtual space, and yet they are real -- there.

"No longer a matter of physical attributes, identity is made intelligible through the art of self-performance. And 'self' in this realm is anything but fixed; it is as multiple as the imagination, unstable and infinitely 'morphable,'" herrup says. "Identity, no matter how concrete the experience, is always constructed, never innate."

Gender online is --a matter of choice.


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