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It's a Dog Eat Dog World: Navigating Stigma in a Zoophile Cyber-Community Open Access

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Sexual deviants often experience intense social isolation due to the stigmatization their behaviors elicit in the public sphere. Online environments may have a liberating effect on these historically marginalized sexual communities by allowing members to negotiate their deviant identities, validate their sexual practices, and manage issues of stigma. Using a sample of 1,381 posts collected from 32 discussion threads, preliminary findings suggest that members in a zoophile cyber-community confront multiple dimensions of stigma. Within the cyber-community, posters risk being shunned for violating communal rules and norms, not displaying sufficient respect for authority, and disregarding the ethical principles of zoophilia. In real world environments, members must also navigate the persistent risk of being exposed as a sexual deviant. We conclude by discussing how the ability to negotiate issues of stigma in supportive online settings provides zoosexuals with an important support structure mechanism to develop and manage their sex-based identities, confront and resolve ethical dilemmas, and reassert shared norms and values.

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