Ashley TELLIS (Eastern Illinois University), Cyberpatriarchy: Chat Rooms and the Construction of ¡¥Man-to-Man' Relations in Urban India , English/14 Pages, January 2005.

Abstract

In this paper, I want to look at internet chat rooms in India with specific relation to same-sex spaces. Indiatimes.com is an Indian website which has a chat room for men who are looking for men (Man-to-Man) and women who are looking for women (Woman-to-Woman) which is an unusual space within the context of India where homosexuality is still illegal and spaces for same-sex desiring people to meet still minimal and marginal. I have been doing at least two and a half years of cyber ethnography on this site and have had interactions with many visitors (many of whom I have met) who have offered me a wealth of insights into same-sex identity-formation in India. I will offer some of these insights and analyse them both in relation to the more developed gay and lesbian movement in the West which also uses the net extensively and in relation to questions of identity politics and the construction of the self in India. I argue that Indian same-sex ¡¥subjects' are not subjects in the sense that we use the term: they do not identify as gay or lesbian, their politics is most often deeply problematic and it is imperative that we redefine notions of identity and identity politics when we encounter such ¡¥subjects'. My focus is on men (the woman-to-woman rooms are most often empty or peopled by frustrated men indicative of another silencing) and I want to show how these men may employ the languages and discourses of sex from the gay movement abroad (largely, however, through gay porn sites), but their understanding of themselves and the sexual activity of which they partake is peculiarly and particularly Indian. This Indianness merits analysis because of its dangerous repercussions in contexts such as HIV/AIDS as much as to break the masculinist hegemony in constructions of same-sex desire between men in India.